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How to Excite An Accountant During Close

Close Task Management - (Series 6 of 7)

Does This Sound Like Your Close?

Are you still sitting in a meeting room with your regional controllers managing your financial close via signatures on a printed Excel checklist? Are you struggling to identify your bottlenecks and shorten your financial close? Do you work nights and weekends during your financial close just to catch up?  Do you struggle to provide your auditors with the required documents to support the work performed by your team? You are not alone, however there is a solution. Through an established System of Controls with a Record to Report Automation Framework, you can achieve a more accurate, faster, and cheaper month end close.

I remember my days in a corporate accounting department when there was a large degree of differentiation in closing activities depending on the region and vast uncertainty of statuses during the early days of the month end close. Sure, there were deadlines and an expected timeline of the close, but when someone didn’t meet a deadline, what could you do other than tell them to do better next time? We were under constant pressure from management to shorter our close cycle, causing friction amongst the teams. Cadency Close allows companies to implement proper financial close management, reduce the time to close, provide greater transparency, enforce standardization and optimize scheduling of closing activities.

Many organizations struggle with the ineffectiveness of their close. They do not have a standard set of close tasks which each organization is required to do. Thus, they continually ask the same questions close after close. They continue to fall behind, requiring long nights and weekend work. With Cadency by Trintech, you can ensure a standard set of tasks are copied effectively from entity to entity within your organization. Mandated process workflow dates and times allow tasks to be completed in a timely manner, holding your staff accountable to deadlines.

Other organizations may have a standard set of tasks but are unable to determine which are dependent on other activities in the close. Cadency allows dependencies to be scheduled, ensuring the final step in the workflow is completed appropriately and with all information or documentation required. This will help in building a more efficient monthly close.

It’s no secret, a lengthy close costs money. Whether or not standardizing your System of Controls around the close process will reduce headcount (though our studies show it will reduce headcount by 20%-50% based on customer interviews), it will ensure your workforce can transition out of the close process and into other, more qualitative activities. Automating lower judgement and more repetitive tasks will allow you to pull the headcount out of the weeds during the close and focus them on more subjective efforts. Trust me, your staff would be less stressed during the close if they no longer had to perform rote tasks and could focus their time and energy on more strategic initiatives.

Activities performed during month end are inherently risky, so you don’t need to add any additional risk by having a lack of transparency or not knowing what tasks are critical at different stages of the close process. The end goal for every organization is the production of reliable financial statements, so you must ensure you have the process and technology in place to get it right. Cadency allows controllers to identify certain tasks as riskier than others, raising the criticality and awareness of the task’s completion in a timely manner. Retrospectively, controllers will want to look back on previous month end closes to identify any bottlenecks. You cannot reduce the time to close without finding and fixing those activities which took extended time. Front loading critical tasks will allow you to shorten the close and reduce the time from close to disclose.

What Can Cadency’s Close Process Do to Make the Lives of Your Accountants Easier?

We’ve talked about it before, but one of the key differentiators of Cadency Close is the ability to take a review of the work performed, identify, and shatter bottlenecks in your month end close. Through the use of processes like close issue management, your performers can identify issues in real time and produce a resolution plan to unblock them. Are you missing a key piece of documentation? Create an issue and assign it to the employee who normally receives that artifact. If this continues month over month, consider rescheduling the close task to a more suitable date or work with your vendor to provide the documentation more judiciously.

Everyone knows that the alignment of people, process, and technology is the key to achieving that end goal of product reliable financial statements. But, let us focus on the technology piece for a moment. If your current process does not provide you with real-time dashboards which allow you to monitor, measure, and manage the entire close process with appropriate drill down into pre-package templates, you are not taking full advantage of today’s Financial Close software. Provide your controllers, and ultimately your CFO, with full transparency into the process with easy to comprehend and easy to use reporting. An organization is no more than three clicks away from your information at any time inside Cadency Close.

Make audit’s a breeze, or at least as painless as you can, through the use of Cadency Close’s electronic binders. These allow you to provide your auditors with an electronic system of record of all activities and documents that are necessary to reconstruct a period for auditability. You don’t even need to provide your auditors a license into Cadency Close. The electronic binder is yours to take out of the system and provide to the appropriate internal and external auditors.

How Can You Get Your Accountants Excited During the Close?

Implementing automation into the close process can provide up to a 30% reduction in time to complete and monitor close tasks. Things like integration with third-party financial software is critical to streamlining activities. Through the utilization of the bi-directional Close APR, companies are able to enable robotics and automation, while reducing manual steps. Those controllers over activities such as corporate tax, treasury, accounts receivable, and accounts payable can evidence the work performed in their independent systems through the global System of Controls in Cadency Close. Other activities reliant on that completion can be automatically scheduled and performed based on this information.

For those organizations who are taking full advantage of Cadency’s various processes, such as Certification and Journal Entry, those same accounts who are completing account reconciliations, identifying reconciling items, posting recurring journal entries, or performing detective intercompany controls can have their closing activities automatically completed when they complete work elsewhere in Cadency. This reduction of duplicative work will surely excite your staff.

Can You Control Your Excitement?

Not only will your accountants be happier, but your organization will greatly benefit from implementing Cadency. Cadency Close provides users a method to provide greater transparency into the financial close process, while integrating with third-party systems, such as Treasury Management Systems, with the end goal of ensuring greater efficiency and effectiveness to the process while driving out risk and cost.

Explore the Full 7-Part Series on Trintech’s System of Controls:
Part 1: Don’t Drown in Transaction Data When Closing – Light a Match and See Clearly
Part 2: Reconciliations: Part of a Global System of Controls to Ensure the Integrity of Your Financial Close
Part 3: Eliminate 95% of Manual Journal Entries and Reduce Risk at the Same Time – Mission Possible 
Part 4: (Intercompany) Prevention Is the Best Medicine
Part 5: How to Reduce Risk and Ensure Control Over Your Intercompany Transactions with Cadency’s Detective Controls
Part 7: How to Measure the Impact of Your Control Environment Using a Framework for Compliance

Written by: Jon Sykora