For many Americans, Sunday afternoons are spent watching football. But behind the tough tackles, spectacular catches and gridiron glory are a group of people and businesses working to keep stadium seats filled and teams profitable.
The Kansas City Chiefs are one of several football clubs BKD assists with various accounting and advisory issues, and Chiefs Controller Brian Dunn says BKD shares their winning attitude and focus on excellence.
The Business of Football
Brian is a graduate of the University of Kansas, where he received his master’s degree in accounting and information systems before going to work for KPMG for nine years.
“I worked on the Chiefs audit when I was at KPMG,” Brian explains. “I had the Chiefs, the Royals and what was then the Kansas City Wizards as clients. I had the Kansas City sports market covered.”
Brian and CFO Dan Crumb oversee the finance, accounting and payroll functions for the Chiefs. That includes budgeting, cash forecasting, monthly reporting, external audit and league reporting. Work doesn’t stop when the regular season ends, either. There’s the NFL Combine, NFL Draft, off-season training activities, minicamp, training camp and free agency period.
“There’s quite a bit of work that goes on during the off-season from an audit perspective, as we’re simultaneously trying to prep for the next season,” says Brian.
Many of the necessary financial statement audits are standard, but the NFL requires several unique audits that aren’t comparable to other organizations. These variables create a distinct audit workload for Brian and his team.
How We Help
Christina Phillips, a consultant with BKD Technologies who specializes in Microsoft Dynamics GP software, has worked with the Chiefs since they connected with BKD five years ago.
“We support their enterprise resource planning, budgeting and reporting solutions,” she says. “We also provide guidance on improving their existing processes by using add-on products or expanding the use of their current systems.”
Because of the unusual requirements for an NFL football club, the Chiefs are constantly looking for ways to be more efficient and effective with the technology they have.
“BKD is critical to helping us improve on what we do every day,” Brian says. “We initially reached out to BKD after we migrated our accounting software to Microsoft Dynamics Great Plains. Christina is an important and valuable resource for us as a finance team.”
BKD helps facilitate the various IT needs for the Microsoft Dynamics platform.
“We really lean on Christina and her team to supplement the work our IT staff performs. That could include upgrades, training over new features, troubleshooting problems,” Brian adds.
BKD also helps the Chiefs plan for the future. As technology continues to change the way the world does business, the Chiefs and BKD are always looking for ways to improve processes.
“We worked with BKD when we were trying to evaluate some of the different software solutions out there, and they showed us the options,” Brian says. “They didn’t say, ‘You have to do this,’ but instead, ‘Here’s what’s out there.’”
BKD recently helped the Chiefs update reporting tools that allow for near real-time reviews of budgets and upgrade to software that allows the Chiefs’ accounting department to scan in or receive invoices and electronically route them for coding and approval.
More Than a Game
Football is deeply ingrained in communities across the U.S., and Kansas City is no different. Arrowhead Stadium—where the Chiefs play—is notoriously noisy, filled with 70,000-plus die-hard fans on game days. The Chiefs recognize that support and do everything they can to give back.
“We have an entire department that’s dedicated to community outreach,” Brian says. “We also make a number of financial donations through the Hunt Family Foundation. That’s a separate entity, but it’s a large way the organization gives back to the community.”
The Chiefs regularly volunteer with the Red Coaters—a community service organization affiliate with the team—Harvesters Community Food Network and Ronald McDonald House. The Chiefs also get thousands of requests each year for donated autographed footballs, helmets and jerseys. Those items are used in raffles and auctions to raise money for charities.
Brian and his team are personally responsible for the Hunt Family Foundation’s 50/50 Raffle at each Chiefs home game. Workers sell raffle tickets in the parking lot and stadium during the game and draw a winner during the fourth quarter. Fifty percent of the net proceeds go to a local charity and 50 percent go to the winner.
“The fans have really embraced it,” Brian says. “It’s become part of the game day experience. Through four seasons, we’ve given just over $1 million to local charities as a result of the raffle. The 2016 season was by far the most successful one we’ve had yet and had some of the largest raffle pots ever. It’s a nice way for a variety of charities to receive funds and recognition.”
A Valuable Part of the Team
BKD greatly enjoys working with the Chiefs and their finance team—and seeing the club thrive on the field and behind the scenes. As innovative software continually rolls out, the firm looks forward to assisting the football club with its ever-evolving technology needs.
“They are a fun, knowledgeable and highly committed group, which makes our work with them enjoyable and professionally rewarding,” Christina says. “Their leadership is forward-thinking and engaging.”
Brian agrees: “There are many opportunities for BKD to take a real hands-on approach. If we were to have a crisis, BKD would be the first people we would call. They’re that valuable to us and what we need to accomplish.”