A progressive shift is taking place within organizations. As finance automation tools increase efficiencies, improve accuracy, and decrease risk, accountants are unleashed to focus on bigger picture tasks that drive strategic opportunities.
This is what the future of accounting looks like: time-consuming manual processes are automated, data is connected, and the role of the modern accountant augmented. This frees accountants to only focus on the exceptions, and it is the key to elevating the role of finance to establish confidence in your accounting processes and data across the organization.
By employing Continuous Accounting practices, everyday accountants can become Exceptional Accountants, providing high-value services in areas like forecasting, fraud detection, compliance, data analytics, technology strategy, and business advice.
Building a Foundational Framework
At InTheBlack in Los Angeles, a panel from Johnson Controls discussed the habits that can help you achieve exceptional accountant status while building a foundational framework for your accounting and finance teams.
The Johnson Controls panel is highly qualified to be speaking about this subject. Through hard work and the right technology, they have developed a high-performing accounting organization that is not just embracing change but driving it. Process automation has enabled them to break down business-driven silos, earn that win-win with auditors, and work smarter, faster, and better.
Here are the first three habits to put into practice.
Habit 1: Get Organized
How often do you begin your workday knowing exactly what needs to get done, when, and by whom? Developing detailed schedules adds discipline and structure to your financial systems and ensures your accounting stays on track.
But when you have tens of thousands of accounts to reconcile, multiple checklists and calendars, and no idea what your coworkers have completed – especially during the close – this is easier said than done.
Automating the account reconciliation process improves organization through easy access to data and workflow benefits. Implementing a task management tool provides visibility into what your team has on their plate, replaces the inefficient spreadsheets approval process, and manages the entire financial close with checklists, real-time dashboards, and structure to ensure compliance.
Habit 2: Take Control
To become exceptional, accountants must have controlled, well thought out processes. And to ensure they’re done properly and accurately, controls need to be in place for change management and to maintain integrity.
A solid foundation with strong controls and processes allows for endless growth and expansion opportunities. But it isn’t possible to achieve this with manual processes that limit the enforcement of controls and leave compliance gaps.
Accounting process automation enhances internal controls while enforcing standardization to improve the quality and accuracy of the financial data. No longer weighed down by the most time-consuming manual work, you are finally free to use your knowledge and expertise to instinctively discern mistakes and compliance issues, and detect the first indications of fraud.
Habit 3: Document
Documentation is vital to accounting processes. Reconciliations, journal entries, and many other financial close tasks must be documented in such a way that a user can not only follow the logic, but also reach succinct conclusions.
The individuals preparing and reviewing the task should have a basic understanding of the task purpose and methodologies. It’s also incredibly important to provide guidelines, an implementation plan, and training so that everyone is aligned with policies and processes.
Become an Exceptional Accountant
Download the 7 Habits of Highly Exceptional Accountants ebook to learn about the final four habits, and discover how all seven work in unison to serve as building blocks to Exceptional Accountant status.