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.

Stay
tuned for Part 2 of this blog series. We’ll reveal best practices to expedite
your close while promoting accurate financial statements.

In the meantime, read this white paper to discover seven powerful ways to evolve your accounting processes.


The post How to Achieve a Faster, More Accurate Financial Close appeared first on BlackLine Magazine.