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How to Modernize Your Journal Entry Process

A manual approach to journal entries is messy. Workflow bottlenecks are created with rushed approvals because managers have no time for review, and sign-offs often take place after journal entries are posted. And how many immaterial entries are held up because they need someone, anyone, to look at them prior to posting?

Everyone makes mistakes, so when accountants are manually entering the data there are inevitable input mistakes and incorrectly booked entries. A lack of validation rules can lead to missed errors and even entries lost in processing.

Stephanie Onze-Serrato, Senior Financial Accountant at Orgill, is all too familiar with these process pains. Before implementing finance automation, her team spent hours manually typing entries into Excel and then hand keying and posting them. The entry was printed and stored for seven years, making tracking down entries and supporting documentation an especially challenging part of every audit review.

The Finance Automation Advantage

All of this changed when Orgill began examining their workflow and decided to automate their journals process. Standardized templates and pre-posting validation eliminate the possibility of keying errors, and the approval process is more timely and flexible.

The digital workspace allows reviewers and approvers the flexibility of logging in anytime, and all supporting documentation is digitally stored for easy access. This also significantly decreases the need for printing and paper storage–just one of the ways automation reduces cost in the long term.

Another key benefit is the efficiency that automation creates, right from the very beginning. The same journals that you’re entering every single month can be automated, saving you a significant amount of time each month, quarter, and year. Moreover, approval and review can be automated based on company-defined materiality thresholds.

Journals can be automatically created, validated, and posted from multiple sources, and with all of your financial systems and ERPs connected, timing and reconciling differences are finally eliminated. Email notifications are sent to the next person in the approval and review process, so there is no waiting.

By centralizing journals management in the cloud, you and your team have visibility into the entire process. This not only accelerates the financial close, but saves time on the backend too, with read-only auditor access (i.e. no more tracking down 7-year-old binders).

Free to be Exceptional

Technology like BlackLine Journal Entry is revolutionizing the entire journal entry process, and paving the way for highly skilled accountants to fully utilize their strengths and invaluable skill set.

An integrated, centralized, and controlled system enables accountants to shift their time and focus from manually preparing and managing the process to other value-added activities. These can including anything from finding and making required adjustments to conducting analysis review of materiality thresholds to streamlining processes or mitigating risk.

The newfound confidence in the numbers is mentally freeing for you and your teams and can mark the beginning of delivering true value to the broader business. This, in turn, can have a ripple effect on the entire organization, creating competitive advantages.

Wondering Where to Begin?

As with any process improvement, it’s important to take a step-wise approach to automating journals. Begin by understanding your process and where it makes the most sense to improve.

Here’s a list of questions to get you started:

  • What is your current level of automation?
  • How do remote (field level) journal entries get into the ERP/GL system?
  • Where are the bottlenecks in your journal entry process?
  • How are recurring journals handled and tracked?
  • How much are you spending for record retention?
  • How is support retained for audit?

Lastly, if you are still unsure of where to start, ask your most recently hired staff accountants and give them the freedom to speak openly. Find out the hardest part of the journal entry process for them. Often, it is those who are executing the most manual, tedious tasks that reveal the real pains in internal process.

Read this white paper to dive deeper into how your organization can modernize its journal entry processes.