3 Challenges You Never Expected to Face as an Accountant

Only six weeks ago, many F&A organizations were in the midst of a digital transformation, or preparing for a finance transformation in the short term, while gearing up for the quarter-end close.

Now the future is uncertain, and work has become a little more complicated for everyone.

Even in the short time that we’ve been working in a distributed fashion, circumstances are changing rapidly and we’re all trying to find a new “normal”.

This leads us to think about what types of unforeseen challenges our readers are experiencing right now, and how we can help you navigate them.

In this blog, we’ll discuss three short-term challenges facing Accountants in this uncertain business environment, and the steps you can take to overcome them.

Resource Constraints

Before the pandemic, many F&A organizations were already operating with lean teams and resource constraints. Now, challenges are being augmented even more and must be addressed in a timely manner—without the luxury of dedicated resources.

Setting up an entirely distributed accounting organization in a matter of days is no small feat. Many offices shut down very quickly in response to the spread of COVID-19, and teams only had a day to grab everything they needed.

Even if you already have all your documentation in a central repository and visibility into your close processes, what used to be repeatable and predictable—in terms of how long things took and where the data was coming from—is now a whole new ballgame.

The Solution

BlackLine Product Director Thyra Williams suggests, “Get laser-focused on what’s really important right now, so that when we’re all able to return to our offices, we can start being strategic about how to digitize.

“You’re going to have to triage. What is important? What are you missing? What do you need right now?”

Try not to focus on the little stuff and instead, focus your efforts on things that are truly a value add. In the short term, this means making sure you close on time.

We recommend getting all of your close processes documented and activities assigned in an organized way that enables visibility across your finance organization. Cloud-based solutions like BlackLine Task Management can give you and your teams greater efficiency and control by providing a centralized platform for managing your month-end close checklist.

Task Management is currently being offered as a complementary add-on for all BlackLine customers, and makes it easy for teams to turn tasks on and off and update or add new tasks to reflect changes to your processes.

IT Overload

IT organizations across the globe are under tremendous pressure to help employees get access to the same systems and tools they had in the office. The burden is now on IT to help accountants figure out how to access the payroll system, the ERP, or other critical systems.

The residual effect is that IT is completely bogged down with just trying to keep people working, so they can’t focus on anything strategic or help out A&F in any other way.

The Solution

As members of finance and accounting teams, and your organizations as a whole, it’s important to document the pathways into your critical systems to ensure at least a small measure of team-wide readiness for any future access needs.

And, go easy on IT. They’re keeping our businesses running.

Balancing Family & Work

This one’s a bit obvious, but our families and communities are experiencing an entirely new way of life—one that involves either complete solitude or being indefinitely quarantined with your entire household, each person with their own unique routines and responsibilities. 

Shout out to all the parents out there!

Many of you are balancing kids learning from home or requiring supervision during the day with trying to do your regular job, also from home where you’re out of your routine, and that is not easy.

Even if you’re not a parent, this extreme change has had drastic effects.

The Solution

The urge to be “on” all the time while feeling disconnected from our work teams and communities is prevalent, and we want to remind you that it’s okay to take some time for you.

We’re all in new and unchartered territory, doing the best we can—and that is more than enough. Giving yourself grace and self-compassion can help you better manage all of the added stimuli and responsibilities that come with being an accountant during this particular time in history.

Read this blog next for a conversation with finance transformation expert Aimee Leishure, who talks about how A&F organizations can navigate this time of tremendous change.