The month-end close is an integral part of reporting timely and accurate financial statements. It enables executive teams to report accurate numbers and make strategic business decisions for organizational growth. These outcomes then trickle down to accountants, who are compiling and processing all the month-end data.
The amount of time needed to close each month largely depends on your organization’s systems and the quality of the procedures followed during the close. When accountants use phrases like “I can’t help you with that now” or “I’m too busy with the close,” it’s time to ask yourself: how can we improve the financial close process and free up essential resources?
Today, we frequently hear about how accountants’ roles and responsibilities are shifting to be more focused on strategy and business partnering.
However, it’s still common for accounting teams to be bogged down by system issues, manual spreadsheets, and labor-intensive tasks in overwhelming volumes. It’s no surprise that overtime and stress are key tenets of the accounting profession.
The Impact of Manual Close Processes
Consider your accounting team’s workload today, even with minimal automation. The current close continues to include very labor-intensive tasks that still rely on contrasting checklists, decentralized departments, lengthy emails, never-ending status meetings, journals, account reconciliations, closing tasks, and more.
Now, consider the hours spent on these activities, and how these could be better allocated to more value-added activities within your finance and accounting functions.
Equally important are bottlenecks in the process, such as:
- Delays in obtaining critical information from other departments in the business
- Multiple ERP systems and ERPs going down at inopportune times
- No visibility into the accounting close calendar and status
- Being understaffed
- Silos created throughout your finance and accounting teams
So where do we start? How can we promote a faster, more accurate close in our accounting function?
The Continuous Accounting Journey
Consider Accounting’s primary goal: to deliver an accurate, real-time analysis of the organization’s overall financial performance. Yet many teams still struggle with decades-old processes and time-consuming manual tasks.
Continuous Accounting delivers a quicker, more efficient and unified close process. This modern approach embeds automation, controls, and period-end tasks within day-to-day activities, allowing the rigid accounting calendar to more closely mirror the broader business. It transforms the way business processes work by emphasizing real-time processing and deep analysis.
The result is a more efficient close, more accurate financials, and a more effective organization. Plus, your accountants will finally have the time to respond to departmental requests, while dedicating more of a strategic focus on the organization’s business decisions.
Many accounting and finance teams who have started on a Continuous Accounting journey continue to capture, validate, and analyze their financial data in a more timely and efficient manner. As a result, they are recognizing a smoother, faster close with real-time visibility into the status of tasks and the overall financial landscape.
Spreading month-end closing tasks throughout the period leads to a more balanced workload for your team, improving accuracy and leaving more time for review. Your employees will experience less burnout and have more time to focus on what matters most, both professionally and personally.
Begin Building Your Foundation
If you’re not quite ready to launch a digital finance transformation at your organization, you can begin building a foundation. Focus on your accountants and their month-end tasks, and ask yourself: which tasks are ready for automation? Which tasks can be performed earlier in the month?
Take a few tasks weekly, meet with your teams, involve them in the process, and offer opportunities to re-balance. When you are ready for full automation, you’ll already have a firm foundation in place.
Read Part 2 of this blog series to learn best practices to expedite your close while promoting accurate financial statements.