5 steps to transform your financial close

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With the ever-persistent need to complete financial close and reporting cycles, it’s difficult to ensure your financial reporting is accurate and on time. It takes diligence and agility to ensure your organization isn’t susceptible to weaknesses in financial reporting – especially when you’re in a time crunch.

When you’re constantly checking and double-checking your work before certification, introducing process improvements becomes a “nice to have” rather than a necessity. There are many other reasons why departments can’t decisively address close process improvements – most likely, because they don’t know where to start.

So, here are five steps to help you begin improving your close processes:

1. Understand the process

There are many benefits that result from comprehending how your close process works while improving it:

  • More time for high-value activities
  • Increased teamwork and communication
  • Reduced turnover

The list goes on. A strong close process improvement leads the way to departmental transformation – from historical reporting to more value-added activities as well as net cost savings.

2. Learn about close process improvements

Few managers invest significant time researching potential resolutions to issues surrounding the close. That’s unfortunate.

Take the time to do the research. Discuss with your peers and corporate accountants how process improvements can improve the following aspects of your close:

  • Visibility
  • Manageability
  • Process accountability
  • Quality control timing
  • Communication interplay

3. Perform an assessment

Every organization is unique. As such, financial executives must perform an assessment of the more significant issues affecting their closes.

To get started, think about any process cracks between departments and tasks – often included on an Excel checklist – which, if omitted, would impact the quality or completeness of the close.

By doing so, you’ll develop an understanding of the multiple dimensions of your close processes, such as variability, documentation, redundancies and bottlenecks.

4. Make a plan

You’re more likely to make successful process improvements using a coordinated approach with a list of prioritized projects.

To ensure improvements are executed correctly, it’s essential to find a project owner for this initiative. Skilled leadership in change management with solid accounting skills are a must.

5. Take action and build momentum

Well-planned close process improvement projects can be a rewarding teambuilding experience, laying the groundwork for financial process excellence.

It’s important to begin with making quick wins. Not only will your processes improve, but you’ll build departmental momentum, increasing your chance for success as you continue to make improvements.

By beginning with a practical and methodical approach, you’ll be more likely to solve significant changes. So, how will you transform you financial close?

Katie Alberti

Katie Alberti is the product marketing specialist for integrations at Hyland, Creator of OnBase. She joined the company in 2012 as a content strategist and spent the last few years focusing on marketing OnBase for back office departments. Prior to joining Hyland, Katie was a writer and reporter for nearly 10 years, covering state and local news. She received her bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism from Kent State University as well as her master of arts in teaching, integrated language arts curriculum and instruction.

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