October 22, 2012

Maintaining Financial Process Documentation

Maintaining Financial Process Documentation Image | BlackLine Magazine

In my experience, maintaining process documentation was usually given a lower priority and would fall by the wayside as higher priority activities were performed.  This had unfortunate consequences down the road because we would often end up scrambling to bring documentation up to date just prior to an audit or review--not a very effective or efficient way to get things done.

This deficiency could be attributed to a few different reasons, most notably, documentation wasn’t easily accessible.  Often times the documentation was stored in binders that were rarely dusted off or were tucked away in folders in the back of a filing cabinet.  If an individual was familiar with performing a process, they were not likely to spend valuable time trying to locate procedural documentation if they didn’t need to reference it.  As a result, as changes occurred, updates were not made consistently.

There was also a perception that the information wasn’t important because it wasn’t prioritized.  Everyone wants to feel their time is well spent so thinking about who could benefit from this information may change this perception.  Here are just a few examples of who will benefit and how it could add value to your organization:

Peer

  • Information Sharing
  • Best Practice Ideas

Supervisors and Managers

  • On-boarding new hires, cross-training other employees
  • Process transparency
  • Performance reviews
  • Change management

Auditors

  • External period-end audits (Annual Reports, 10K, 10Q, etc.)
  • Internal operational reviews
  • Compliance testing

An awareness of these residual benefits makes the exercise of maintaining documentation less tedious to complete.   In addition, documentation accessibility will make the process of ongoing maintenance less daunting.  As a result, visibility to current documentation will improve the quality of your organization’s financial processes.

Bob Davenport

Modern Accounting