Recently, Adra by Trintech hosted a joint webinar with Citrin Cooperman, an accounting firm that specializes in tax, audit and consulting services in the United States.
Carlos Catalan, Director of Consulting for Citrin Cooperman, discussed the importance of financial process improvement for offices of finance and the key factors that require evaluation.
Efficiency and Quality: Two Focus Areas for Financial Process Improvement
“[Citrin Cooperman has] been focusing for the past year working on middle-market companies to simplify our services. Basically, these are some of the things that we really believe in. One of them is efficiency, [or more specifically] how we value efficiency and simplicity. We’re always asking ourselves how we can simplify the process, standardize it, and make it easier for everyone to understand it. I think that’s one of the things that we really think about as we approach every situation and challenge when working with middle-market companies.
The second piece is a focus on quality. How do we obtain the data that will represent the true picture of the company, and what are the actions that we take to preserve any manual changes to that data?”
Driving Efficiency: Close Checklist
Efficiency is a crucial part of an organization’s financial close process. One of the ways to facilitate efficiency, as Carlos Catalan says, is through a close checklist.
“I think one of the first things that has become instrumental for middle-market companies to close their books is a good detailed, global month-end checklist. Typically, what we see in a spectrum of companies is either not having a checklist or a company that has maybe ten or fifteen activities where the controller is in a specific location he feels comfortable with.
Then we see other leading companies with 200 activities and taking the month-end close checklists as a catalyst for process improvement and accelerating the close process. They really leverage the close checklists to be able to level with their team in terms of what needs to happen, how they’re going to do it, and are able to schedule meetings before the close.
Once the close is done, they then schedule meetings afterward and re-evaluate to see how things went and learn from certain areas to accelerate those.”
Improving Quality: Analytics and Policies
Focusing on quality is the next area Catalan says companies should prioritize.
“In some of our discussions with Controllers, we typically hear, ‘You know what, I closed on my business day eight, for example, and my General Ledger (GL) is closed.’ Then we respond, ‘Okay, that’s great. Let’s look at your journal entry activity data dump,’ and we start to perform quick analytics around this. Then we start to see that there’s a lot of journal entries being posted on the GL after the fact. This type of analytics and data has become super beneficial for Controllers to manage and maintain who is really hitting the GL.
The other piece of [evaluating quality] is with finance and accounting policies and procedures. It’s critical to be able to communicate and train resources across the company. More often than not, we see accounting teams very, very busy on the operational side, and they just don’t have enough time to be able to put together policies that are tailored to their environment. Those are some of the things that [Citrin Cooperman] helps with.”
Achieving Process Improvement Through Automation
Though quality and efficiency are important factors of every organization’s financial processes and controls, technology enables their existence. The most common financial tool used by middle-market companies, spreadsheets, are not equipped to service the complexities of an organization’s financials, especially as finance and accounting teams work remotely. Additionally, spreadsheets promote bottlenecks, time-consuming manual processes and lack visibility or insights. Growing your organization requires an automated solution and process rather than a heavily manual tool.
The Adra Suite can streamline your month-end close while improving quality and accuracy and providing analytics to pinpoint specific opportunities and challenges within your processes. Automating certain manual tasks, such as transaction-matching or bank reconciliations, allows your team to focus on exceptions and more value-adding activities.
Learn more about driving process efficiency and quality within your financial process with the on-demand webinar with Citrin Cooperman.
Carlos Catalan is the Director of Consulting for Citrin Cooperman with an MBA from Cornell University. Before Citrin Cooperman, Catalan worked six years at Deloitte and previously worked at KPMG. Now, he works closely with CFOs, Controllers and business owners to improve their finance and accounting operations.
Written by: Ashton Mathai