BING The Eternal Journals Juggler | BlackLine Magazine

The Eternal Journals Juggler

How do you squeeze more out of an already overstretched accountant?

The more pressure you feel to get something done absolutely right, the more likely you are to make a mistake. Funny, isn’t it?

For so many accounting professionals, the month-end close is a time-pressured week of hard-to-meet deadlines and answers that need to be absolutely right.

Already behind on routine work that gets put on hold during the close, teams become buried by manually booking journal entries, hunting for supporting documents, and pulling and copying backup for audit purposes―adding to a bank of work that never diminishes.

The baseline work always gets done, but there is never time for anything else.

The goal of most accounting organizations is for their accountants to focus on high-value, analytical work.

When you realize the nature of the work won’t change and people can’t be squeezed for any more activity, it’s time to look at how they work.

A Day in the Life of a Journals Juggler

Typically, journal entry management is an online/offline process that goes something like this: armed with information, the accountant logs into the general ledger system, keys in the lines of the journal, and then posts it.

Or, if they have a workflow, the accountant prints it and places it (with backup) at the bottom of the pile of the approvers’ journals in waiting. Once the approver completes the review, they may post it or sign off on it and give it to someone else to post.

Journals are printed and backups are attached by hand and filed in the accountant’s file cabinet, or sometimes a central file cabinet until they are sent offsite to record retention.

Here they sit, often undisturbed―not because no one ever needs them, but because paper journals are not easy to find―until they’re destroyed. Sometimes journals are sent to SharePoint, but without a procedure, they too are not easily retrieved.

This can be a huge drain on resources, especially since it’s become so easy to implement client-defined, automated workflows that separate these duties.

With an automated journals process, data is validated before it’s entered into the general ledger, with backups already attached and all the documentation stored electronically―available for as long as the user needs it.

For many organizations, finance automation has freed up 40% of this time-consuming activity.

Black Marks & Blotted Copybooks

Not long ago, I ran into an old colleague who was on a mid-audit search for journals, going back five years. She told me the files had been sent to record retention and couldn’t be found.

When I asked what she was going to do, she looked glum and said, “We have to find more journals to audit.”

On another occasion, I watched from my office as building facilities emptied the file cabinets of a very high-level accounting manager who had left the company. This employee made multi-million dollar journal entries every month, and the unmarked files were just tossed into a trolley and sent offsite.

The search for documentation that hasn’t been tagged, stored, or processed correctly is time-consuming and stressful. If you can’t address the auditor’s queries or substantiate your journals, you will pay in both time and penalties.

Hey, You, Get Off That Wheel

Most of the time, accountants are running a hamster wheel just trying to get through the day. They don’t have the chance to extract quality from the data they produce.

As I previously mentioned, accounting and finance departments have the potential of a 40% uplift in freed resources from journal entry drudge. This pales in comparison with the possible 90% that is achievable using bulk journal entry to automate high-volume journal entries.

BlackLine customers will tell you that their accountants are no longer viewed as number-crunchers, but as value-adding insight-providers who are uncovering opportunities and removing waste.

They still have the same number of accountants, but they’re doing so much more with their time.

Read this white paper to learn how your organization can modernize its journal entry processes, and get up to 40% of your team’s time back to dedicate to value-adding activities. 

Written by

Gary Carpenter has over 20 years of Accounting and Process Transformation experience and is a Solutions Consultant Manager at BlackLine.

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