Despite the digital age we all live in, it is not uncommon for even enterprise-class organizations to rely on spreadsheets, emails and phone calls to manually manage tasks critical to the Close. Still, we all know that this approach is not a strategic, beneficial, growth-oriented, or long-term solution. Do you want your highly skilled people managing menial, manual activities or do you need them focused on delivering valuable insights to your business so it will grow and adapt as your industry changes? I think we all know the right answer to this question…
As we’ve seen time and time again through our work with industry-leading companies around the world, by moving from a mostly manual process to advanced automation, Finance and Accounting (F&A) professionals are able to shift their focus to strategic, value-adding initiatives, allocating time to evaluating new opportunities and genuinely impacting their organization.
4 Steps You Must Take to Reach a World-class Financial Close
- Standardize Practices:
- Use standard reconciliation templates configured for accounts, based on the type of account
- Determine allowable dollar or percentage variance, and automate those that don’t necessitate intervention by a team member
- Establish a process for the documentation of SOX key and non-key controls, along with testing and remediation of failures
- Implement Process Optimization:
- Combine your quantitative financial close tasks to allow a single, consistent review of aggregated data
- Consolidate your 3rd party systems
- Create a chart of all your tasks for the period, and use it to track the progress of the financial close (i.e. identify close days with unusually high activity of late tasks)
- Leverage Automation:
- Integrate into existing ERPs to reduce the cost, time, effort and risk of data integration and review
- Refine the routing of tasks to appropriate individuals, including use of groups and queues
- Ensure that control test failures automatically trigger the control to go through remediation prior to being able to be tested again
- Leverage the capabilities of dynamic account maintenance for jobs, which can change assignment, input metadata, and/or complete account reconciliations, and identify a schedule for their completion based on frequency or activity
- Employ Risk Intelligent Robotic Process Automation™ (RI RPA):
- Identify amount and/or number of reconciling items and route approval to additional reviewers or a higher authority
- Employ machine learning of the work performed by users so the system can learn the standard workflow a user takes to reduce time moving between processes
- Link processes to automatically create a journal entry based on reconciling items and/or complete financial close tasks based on performance of a journal entry.
World-class companies are now realizing that Trintech’s RI RPA can be utilized to not only lower costs and reduce errors, but also improve compliance by inspecting, automating and triggering remediation. RI RPA looks to optimize the process, so that users can go beyond balancing the workload and eliminating manual work, to analyzing the data and applying creative intelligence to tasks such as problem solving and evolving the business. This not only delivers improved value to the business, but is also the type of high value work most likely to attract and retain high-quality people.
Whether you have automated none, some or all of your processes, our recommendation for you is to be proactive. Invest in a financial automation solution that is not only going to improve aspects of what you have today, but will also provide your organization with a platform that can support end-to-end process excellence in the future.
For more information on this topic, view our webinar recording, “How to Transform Your Office of Finance in 4 Steps.”
Written by: Kelli Shoevlin