There are five fundamental aspects that allow SFP to be separate and apart from others who provide services and products that may appear to be similar on the surface. The combination of these five elements brings a uniqueness that can only be found in SFP.
Actual experience at all levels of public school finance in Texas:
The leaders of SFP has personally worked from the lowest to the highest level of the financial operations of traditional independent school districts, county school districts and charter schools in Texas. Firsthand knowledge is something that can only be experienced firsthand. The process of facing difficulties that come with the job of accounting and having to find solutions with limited resources has repeated itself over time as more and more control becomes shifted to outside of the business operations of the entity. By treating each event as a learning experience, SFP recognizes the value of searching for ways to be more efficient and effective in the way that accounting aspects were carried out in the financial operations of the organization. While it is a very simple concept, each accounting task must align to the point where information is received and then where information is given. Many times, this concept is missed just because the job “has to be done”. SFP uses this understanding throughout its operations because of the way it was experienced firsthand by its leader in the real world of real work.
Harnessing repeatable and accurate execution of tasks by technology:
In the early 1980’s, the accountant was blessed to have a 10-key adding machine, plenty of pencils, and special paper that allowed for columns and rows to be pre-organized.
As the leader of SFP, Paul King, completed his BBA in Accounting, Computer Science was emerging and the power of what a computer could do was mainly isolated to early programming languages on a mainframe computer. At his first school district job, this appetite fueled the desire to learn a method of query reporting from the data stored on the mainframe software of the school district. The result was a way to make appropriate changes in the actual accounting software and then rerun the entire budget by budget owner as well as appropriate summary of comparative actual and budget financial data for a report that was to a standard that was presentable to the board of trustees. From that first success in the mid 1980’s, Paul has steadily and continually searched for ways to improve upon this concept. Jumping forward about 20 years, a new situation faced him as a long time business department employee announced plans for retirement. This employee reconciled 3 zero balance bank accounts and 1 demand deposit bank account to roughly 30 different general ledger cash in bank accounts. By teaming up Mindsphere Technology Group, Inc., Paul assisted with quickly defining the needs and objectives desired for a computer program to do the reconciliation in an automated fashion, leaving only unreconciled items to research. The program would take bank data for the month, compare each transaction to the general ledger data, and make choices the same as a human would do to match transactions or show items as outstanding or unreconciled. The requirement was to have the computer to do this in less than 1 minute. 2 weeks later, the electronic bank reconciliation software was born and it processed the reconciliation in less than 45 seconds and was a repeatable process directly accessing general ledger data. Today this same product is in use in large school districts and charter schools and has the ability to even reconcile the bank statement on a daily basis if desired. This same practical application of technology solutions for accounting tasks guided the leader of School Finance Productivity to partner with the owner of Mindsphere Technology Group and produce even more powerful and sophisticated tools and services that allow humans to focus time on things computers cannot and should not do.
Creation of reports and output presentable to the highest levels in the organization:
Many times, when dealing with accounting matters, the volume of data pushes accountants to focus more on finding the answers rather than how the reporting appears at the end of the process of finding the answer. Communication tends also to be in a form that is familiar to the sender (an accountant) with the assumption that the hearer or reader has the same level of understanding on the topic as the sender. Primarily for this reason, accountants are rarely trained on how a report might best look in order to have the best chance of having the desired impact on the reader.
During the very early stages of his career, there was an underlying desire by the leader of School Finance Productivity to devote the appropriate amount of time to a task so that the finished product or report was not rushed but provided a very high level of readability to the next levels up within the organization where the information would flow next. In short, this approach allowed superiors to only need to make minor revisions (if at all) as they would move reports to higher levels in the organization. Building on the first two fundamental aspects of School Finance Productivity, the concept of doing ones work with the end not only in mind but with the attention to appropriate formatting of the details for the presentation to the appropriate audience now takes on a real world approach to where technology makes the reporting repeatable, at will, and the firsthand experience brings a level of critique to align most closely to the highest levels of excellence in work performed and what would naturally be expected in the public school finance community.
Acceptance of the concept that lifelong learning is more similar to a journey than an event:
As time has marched on, so too have the number of changes and complexity of accounting structures, moving in never ending processes that leads to a higher level of expectations by all stakeholder. In accounting terms, being able to successfully control all of the flows of information to be entered into the place where the ultimate authenticity of the data resided, tended to be more focused on the event of correctly posting one debit and one credit in double entry bookkeeping than anything else. By changing the perspective from an event to a journey that contains events, the focus shifts from the stress of cranking out the work to a state where the stress is still there and the work may still need to be done but an ideal state begins to form in the mind. This concept of lifelong learning being a journey is what was fully embraced by the leader of School Finance Productivity to create solutions that withstand the continual changes, and provides stability when all around may appear to be chaos and disorganization.
Being kind and ethical allows for wise individuals to reach their maximum potential:
The leader of School Finance Productivity, Paul King, discovered during his career that the most productivity and synergy that can be experienced within a business office team is when solid ethical values are embraced by each member and carried out in a kind and caring environment. To some in business, this may seem counterproductive because how can anyone actually embrace these concepts in the world we all live in today and still make any kind of respectable living? The secret is that as human beings, from the first few moments of life to the most important moments to be experienced, the healthy ethical boundaries surrounded within an environment of kindness and caring is essential to long term fulfillment and an ultimate viewpoint of success. Upon closer review, there needed to be someone behind the scenes that understood how important it was for every employee to receive their paycheck every time, on time. There needed to be someone who could read the technical accounting rules for how to match special grant funding with the spending and then do it. There needed to be someone who could gently guide an organization away from the notion of uncontrolled spending just because there was significant money in the bank to a wise and strategic use of limited resources for the benefit of those served. School Finance Productivity was created in March 2014 in an effort to combine the talents of school finance and technology to bring a wise and positive impact to every customer every time.
The combination of these 5 aspects brings a uniqueness that is not present anywhere else. SFP continues to experience success as the impact it brings positively affects real lives in real business offices in real schools. In most cases, this impact will not make headline news mainly due to the idea that private matters are to remain private. As the list of valued customers continue to grow, School Finance Productivity continues to explore additional avenues to positively impact even more potential customers in need of assistance. Lifelong learning, embraced from firsthand, real world experience, understanding the value of technology solutions to financial challenges, reported at a level of understandability and excellence, produced in an ethical and caring environment, allows School Finance Productivity to strategically empower each customer to leverage a variety of financial and technology solutions to respond to every changing requirements for credible and timely data and reporting. And the story continues…