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    How to Choose the Best Production Accounting Software

    Tech innovations are rapidly changing the entertainment industry. Streaming services are dominating content generation and people are filming features on their iPhones. So why are production finance teams still running around trying to get ink signatures on pieces of paper and spending days on end keying and rekeying data? It’s time for entertainment accounting software to catch up — and fortunately companies are finally offering innovative options for production accountants ready to step up their game. 

    The best entertainment payroll and accounting software today looks nothing like the old way of doing business. And that’s the point. If you’re searching for a new solution, put these four major benefits at the top of your priority list.


    Time saving

    Ask a roomful of production accountants what they want from their production accounting software and you’re likely to hear the same thing repeated again and again: “Save me time.” In a recent survey, time saving was the number one thing accountants needed their software to deliver, yet only half of them were actually getting it. 

    When comparing software options, think about which interfaces feel the most intuitive — those are going to be the easiest and quickest to use. Request a demo or sandbox to give it a test drive. Note how fast the pages load and how easy it is to find what you’re looking for. Ask about how data can be shared across departments and projects, and whether you can access and filter Chart of Accounts and General Ledger information without having to run lengthy reports. Look for ways the platform can make your job easier and less prone to errors by automating workflows. For instance, GreenSlate’s all-in-one app auto populates available account codes (searchable by code number or name) so you never fat-finger the wrong code again. 

    If you get out of breath just thinking about all the running around it takes to get signatures on POs, petty cash requests, check requests and payroll documents, then look for an accounting software that gives you the power to customize approval flows. GreenSlate’s technical onboarding team will set up custom approval flows, allowing you to designate anyone with a particular role as an authorized approver, and sends in-app and email notifications when an approval is needed. From there, it just takes a click to add your digital signature (which is stored in the system).


    Everything in one place

    Having everything you need to manage onboarding, timecards, payroll, POs, check requests, incentives and post accounting in one place will save you a lot of time (see above) and a lot of headaches. Every payroll company has some combination of solutions that enable you to send and save documents, sign checks, distribute required employee trainings, etc. But many — especially the older, larger companies that have been slow to digitize — accomplish this with a set of separate platforms that don’t work together seamlessly. GreenSlate’s game-changing all-in-one web solution puts everything you need in the same app (on desktop or mobile) — one login, one password, no hassle. 

    New, all-in-one accounting software isn’t just for production accountants. It’s also for all crew members to do their own digital start work and timecards, review paystubs and access tax forms. And it’s for department heads to submit POs for approval and save receipts. Not all software solutions are set up to allow access across your whole crew — but they should be. To get everyone on board (literally and figuratively), you want an app that’s user friendly, available on mobile (both iOS and Android) and is easy to learn. Ask about online trainings, phone and web chat customer service availability and whether app support is available for everyone on the crew.


    Less data entry, fewer mistakes

    Another benefit of an all-in-one app? Less data entry. For example, when everything is handled on the same platform, you don’t have to input timecard hours, then export them to your Hours to Gross (HTG) system, then export them again to your payroll provider. A single database for all your info also means stored data can be carried over to future projects, so you never have to enter the same data twice. 

    GreenSlate takes even more off the accountants’ hands by putting more control into the hands of the crew. Not only can employees input their own personal info and hours (more on that in a minute), but crew members can also submit purchase orders, check requests, petty cash advance requests, petty cash envelope submittals and more from their own devices. All the accountant has to do is approve and add it to the cost report, saving loads of time and preventing errors. 

    And since you don’t do your job in a technological silo, you want a production accounting software that plays nice with the other platforms you rely on to get your work done. An app that integrates with what you are already using, whether it’s NetSuite, SAP, or other corporate accounting system, will significantly cut down the time spent exporting and importing data and will prevent input errors. GreenSlate takes integration a step further with its unique Chart of Accounts Mapper, which automatically maps your production’s Chart of Accounts onto the studio or network’s Chart of Accounts.


    Paperless productions

    The 20th century called - it wants its paper timecards back. When compared to paper timecards, digital timecards offer far greater security and better accuracy. The best platforms combine timecards with a robust gross engine to auto calc hours according to union contracts. Always check to see if your provider has hours to gross and the contracts your production needs.  At this point, production accounting software that doesn’t have the full package should be a nonstarter. In the past, some crew members might have bristled at submitting their hours digitally, but especially in a remote work, COVID-19 era, touchless timecards are the way to go — and the way the business is going.

    There are many other ways to reduce the amount of paper you need, which will save time and money (think of the cost of printing, filing, and storing all. those. records.), reduce your environmental footprint, allow remote collaboration and make your crew feel safer, to boot. Consider the paper trail of a PO, which needs to be filled out by the department head, delivered to the accountant for approval and returned, and is then followed by an invoice from the vendor, and finally is paid with a check. With GreenSlate’s all-in-one app, the PO can be submitted and approved in the system without a single piece of paper (or having to hunt down a signature). From there, you can generate the payments with ​​ACH, CASHétPay or digitally signed accounts payable checks. The files are all linked together in the system, accessible to everyone who needs to view them, no bankers boxes required. All-digital solutions make going paper-free possible and painless.

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