Streamlining your month-end close process can be invaluable for any firm trying to cut back on the amount of time, energy, and money it’s wasting, but most CPAs today have little idea how to better optimize their existing processes. Fortunately for accountants everywhere, a series of handy tips exist to help show you how you can master the month-end close process, and by following them you’ll soon be the star of your office.
Modern accounting systems may be vastly better than what accountants once had to rely on, but you can’t rely on digitization alone; follow these tips, and remember to loop in all your human employees to whatever changes you’re making, and you’ll have a vastly improved month-end close process in no time.
It’s all about establishing standards
If your company hasn’t already established strict, clear standards about how it goes about its month-end close process, you’re already getting started on the wrong foot. It’s absolutely crucial that your business has a tried-and-tested process that’s standardized across time, so that when your existing employees retire or move on to different opportunities, newcomers won’t have to redesign a system from scratch. Nonetheless, designing a good, standardized process for mastering your month-end close isn’t easy, so where should accountants begin?
The first thing you should do is assemble a team; this is often a process far too big for one person alone, and as you’ll soon learn, assembling a squad of savvy professionals is a sure-fire way to guarantee you don’t make any simple mistakes that end up costing you time, money, and effort down the line. These teams, working in tandem with the latest tech, can put together a masterful, cooperative operation that gets you to close books faster than you ever imagined possible, which means more time for your accountants to review them for errors or inefficiencies.
Virtually all ledgers that modern accountants rely on can be digitized, meaning you should make digital versions of the ledgers you’ll be working with available to all team members, who can work in-tandem with one another, particularly when exploiting software programs that let them do more work in less time. At the end of the day, the primary purpose of streamlining your month-end close process is likely to free up your accountants to do more important things elsewhere, like organize quick online loans, meaning its crucial you structure your team in such a way that it’s maximizing each member’s potential. Don’t be afraid to get HR involved, as they’ll prove invaluable at helping disparate workers cooperate and will help identify the best people for the job.
Assembling a team like this will also help you avoid common mistakes, like overworking your accountants, thus causing them to produce shoddy work that doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. A recent survey, for instance, found that a vast majority of all employees involved in the month-end close process believed their involvement negatively impacted them on a personal level, largely thanks to the massive demands placed on them and the subsequent stress those demands generated. Don’t let your workers down; a team and a well-organized work schedule can go incredibly far to prevent fatigue and frustration.
You can’t rely on accountants alone
It may seem puzzling, but it’s a fundamental truth of the month-end close process that you can’t rely on your accountants alone. To put it simply, most of the CPAs wrangled into this process are often on incredibly tight deadlines, and as stated above are facing tremendous levels of stress. That’s why it’s all the more vital that you recruit members from across your organization to work in tandem to reduce the workload, and involve HR to such a degree that workers feel as if they’re being protected by the company instead of pushed to their utter limits by it.
Don’t be afraid to work with your business partners, too; if changing the way you receive a certain invoice could help you get your hands on the data you’ll need at the end of the month, for instance, don’t be afraid to approach your clients or partners about making that change. The small innovations, built up over time, will end up saving you the most in the end.
IT automation could be another key to saving your company money while optimizing its month-end close operations; financial closing is very easily automated, and your company should consider investing in software that will expedite the process as much as possible. You shouldn’t abandon your human employees entirely, however; they’ll have vital institutional knowledge, and can do certain task that machines just aren’t that good at yet, like making important decisions that could impact your company’s finances.
The month-end close process is never fun, and understandable puts great stress on accountants; mitigate that stress with effective teambuilding, and hasten your process with automation, and you’ll be on your way towards mastering the month-end close in no time.