The Blueprint for Continuous Accounting


Part 10 of the Continuous Accounting blog series. You can access the full series here.

In today’s highly complex global business environment, companies are constantly expected to do more with less. There is an increasingly greater need for real-time financial intelligence and transparency, and an expectation for analytics to create competitive advantage.

Senior finance executives are dealing with a compounding amount of financial data they must deliver accurately to provide the big picture of their organization. Unfortunately, making sense of so much unstructured data is a huge challenge.

Seeing through the fog is almost impossible amid disparate systems, databases, and spreadsheets, and it’s no surprise that more than half of Finance executives report being frustrated by spending too much time on non-strategic work.

They are awash in transactional activity and two-thirds say they don’t have time for process improvement.[1]

While this is clearly a common problem, it’s a significant one. The business world runs on facts and figures, and the fastest growing companies have measurement and improvement processes in place.

As we shift into the second half of our Continuous Accounting series, we’re going to explore how to build a blueprint that will implement these processes and propel your organization forward through continuous improvement.

Aligning with an Always-On Economy

Continuous Accounting is an automation story, but the most integral piece of this concept is timing.

As more and more organizations go global, business has truly become always-on. When accountants in North America are wrapping up their day, Asia Pacific is coming online. When they close their day out, Europe is just starting theirs.

This means that transactions are always flowing in, and by the time the next day begins in North America, a new stack of work is already waiting. This also means that there is never a convenient time to stop and close the books.

The concept of Continuous Accounting incorporates some fairly well-understood principles for how to organize processes and approach the financial close differently so that it’s shorter, it’s accurate, and its tasks are evenly distributed throughout the month.

This aligns the rigid accounting calendar with the broader business and shifts your focus to be forward-looking — instead of spending your time looking backward because you’re constantly catching up.

Building Your Blueprint

The Continuous Accounting approach requires a mindset shift that may seem a little counter-intuitive at first. Instead of scheduling a close task when it’s most efficient, it’s scheduled as close to the inception of the transaction as possible.

That process is then automated with the right technology. Process automation provides the real-time intelligence the business needs for more effective decision-making, and also gives you the time you need to report on those metrics.

Continuous Accounting is a journey that begins with defining the end-goal, so you and your teams are clear on what you are striving to achieve. There are common milestones on this journey, but the blueprint you design should be as unique as the organization itself.

Read the Blueprint for Continuous Accounting ebook to learn more about how to build the blueprint for your organization.

[1] FSN – The Future of the Finance Function – 2016 Survey