By special guest Anne Bothwell, Principal, KPMG LLP
The financial close process can be difficult. But many companies endure far more pain than necessary. Smart companies have found inexpensive yet sustainable technology solutions. A relatively small investment in proven technology can, in fact, yield greater efficiencies in the close process, turning pain points into potential gains. In short, a little technology can go a long way.
Challenges like decentralization, a lack of real-time visibility into status and risk-related issues, and heavily manual and spreadsheet-intensive processes, are the heart of the problem that companies face. Organizations need cost-effective solutions to help address these issues with their finance functions.
In the financial close, issues often arise around visibility. Concerns about effective account reconciliation, for example, are at the top of the list. But with readily available marketplace tools, change is possible. The key is converting informal practices into more structured and consistent ones. But overall, a streamlined approach to automate the record-to-report process can improve performance by enhancing visibility, standardizing practices, and simplifying workflow.
Companies can move from old-school spreadsheets to more streamlined technology tools, which are customized for individual company needs. The informality of email gives way to more documented reviews and certifications of reconciliations. Rubber stamping – the bane of controllers – goes away. New efficiencies and cost optimization emerge from real-time tracking, trend analyses, and automated controls.
Automation allows for more insights into and controls over the close process and reconciliation. Variances can be flagged, new accounts without owners can trigger action, and exceptions can be noted in a more timely fashion. Organizations can self-assess strengths and weaknesses in the close process and course correct as they go. Dashboard functionality, allows the CFO and controller to monitor the process, start to finish, in real-time. In the end, technology can help reduce risk by better managing regulatory compliance.
There must be a downside, right? In reality, many organizations don’t take advantage of what the technology has to offer. As soon as the pain of the old processes begins to go away, the immediacy of the problem dissipates. It’s common for organizations to install a solution and then let its functionality whither. Without proper attention, the benefits diminish over time, and companies find themselves drifting away from the ROI. Companies must expend some effort to keep their tools optimized.
A sustainable solution is within the grasp of virtually any company willing to make a small investment in their close process. Because Finance is a back-office function, it often has difficulty securing funding for such endeavors – that is, unless there is immediate risk or potential ROI involved. This solution fits both bills.
Pain can be a great motivator. It’s nice to know that sometimes there are relatively simple and cost-effective ways to turn that pain into gain.
To learn more, join us at Trintech’s 2013 User Conference, #TrintechConf, May 19 – 22, where KPMG speaker sessions include Why Disclosure Management is a Hot Topic, The Successful Close, and Elements of an Effective Reconciliation. Or, contact Anne Bothwell, Principal, KPMG LLP, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About KPMG – KPMG LLP, the audit, tax and advisory firm (www.kpmg.com/us), is the U.S. member firm of KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”). KPMG International’s member firms have 152,000 professionals, including more than 8,600 partners, in 156 countries.