Part 7 of the Continuous Accounting blog series. You can access the full series here.
Accounting and finance professionals have the ability to drive their organization to the next level. They are wired to find solutions to complex problems, proactively identify errors, and fix them before they become an issue.
But if teams don’t have the resources required to focus on these value-adding activities, the business will pass them by—instead of inviting them to have an active role in the most critical discussions.
“If accounting can’t free up time to participate in day-to-day business activities, the business will continue to operate without accounting. When accounting doesn’t have a seat at the table, mistakes are more likely to happen, and the business will continue to run into surprises,” says Molly Boyle, former Senior Manager of Corporate Accounting at Under Armour and now Senior Manager of Solutions Marketing at BlackLine.
Become A Strategic Partner to the Business
The solution is to begin moving toward a Continuous Accounting approach.
Continuous Accounting embeds automation, control, and period-end tasks within day-to-day activities, smoothing out the end of period spikes. This frees your highly skilled accountants to focus on reviewing exceptions and meeting the expectation to provide accurate, real-time financial data at any time during the month.
The goal of Continuous Accounting is to create a more synergistic organization where the value of accounting and finance teams is evident, as they inform effective decision-making with the real-time reporting data that tells the full story.
Begin with Empowering Your Teams
Successfully implementing Continuous Accounting requires a top-down approach. It’s essential to begin shifting your mindset and effectively empowering your teams — because empowering people gives them a sense of ownership.
Molly used to tell her teams, “I want you to own this. Go talk to the business and be an owner.”
She also trained them to have a solution-oriented approach. Instead of coming to her to vent and complain, they learned to figure out a potential solution first, which forced them to think critically about the issue and fully understand it.
This encourages each individual team member to develop a mindset of continuous improvement and assessment. It helps them break free from the pattern of providing advice and transition to thinking about how a process can be done differently and more efficiently.
Molly says, “When you give someone a voice, chances are they will be a lot more invested in that process. And if you empower someone to find a better way, than that person will also benefit tremendously.”
Continue with Process Improvement
Process improvement is one of the first steps of Continuous Accounting — before you even talk about technology. Accountants are the best resource for identifying the most painful, inefficient, and risky accounting processes.
“No one’s going to know or understand a process better than the person who’s closest to it. That person will have a unique perspective, and if you’re hiring smart, talented people, they’re probably going to be able to see a better way,” Molly says.
Empowering your teams to own the improvement in this area will generate a very different result than simply telling them what the output should be.
Earn Your Seat at the Table
People are at the heart of innovation at every company, and there is undeniable value in developing exceptional accountants. When you allow your people to drive change, they deliver things that scale in a very exciting way.
Fundamentally, Continuous Accounting is a story about unleashing the accounting and finance professionals who have the unparalleled vision to experiment, push the limits, try, and fail. It’s about empowering your people to make decisions, own process improvement, and earn their seat at the table.
Read Part 8 to learn how to empower your organization with real-time intelligence.