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Seasonal Sales Spikes Don’t Have to Mean a Slower Close

With the flurry of sales on Thanksgiving weekend into the holiday period, accountants in the retail sector often feel the pressure. With a marked uptick in transactions as savvy shoppers look for the best deals, reconciliation can be a chore if you’re still using old and outdated processes.

While most businesses have moved on from the days of printing out accounts and matching transactions by hand with highlighters, too many are still using unwieldy and inaccurate spreadsheets, which are not only time-consuming but prone to errors and missing vital information. You wouldn’t be caught using a slide rule in 2020, and while it’s a perfectly serviceable technology, times have moved on and there are better ways of doing things today.

These antiquated accounting processes are problematic at any time of the year – working through hundreds of tasks on a checklist and coordinating these efforts across a team is an arduous task. It’s inefficient, takes far longer than it should, and is a frustrating experience for all involved.

When seasonal sales send orders from suppliers and transactions from customers through the roof, these outdated methods completely collapse. The sheer volume of tasks becomes unmanageable and where once it might have taken three or four days to close the books, it now runs to over a week or two, with overtime on top it all. Accounting teams experiencing this are not a pretty sight – with stressed staff up to their eyeballs in paperwork, frantically running around in an organized manner, and no clear communication between the team – it can get pretty ugly!

Moving away from manual approaches and towards automation will shave hours if not days off your close

A better way for the modern day

Frankly, there are better ways to do things. Whether you’re closing during a busy period or your slowest slump, the financial close doesn’t have to be burdensome.

Modern software dedicated to helping accounting teams manage the financial close process has revolutionized the way the office of finance operates. Rather than slogging away, hunched over desks late into the evening, accountants are leaving the office on time and in a much better mood than they were before.

Leveraging the power of this technology, accountants can let the software do the hard work, matching and reconciling millions of transactions automatically – leaving only a handful of exceptional cases for the team to manage. Not only that, but by bringing the process together in a single, digital workflow – rather than a myriad of disparate documents and binders – the team benefits from enhanced visibility over the whole process.

Where previously, colleagues may have had to exchange a series of emails or shout across the office to ascertain the state of close, now it’s simply a case of bringing the process up on the screen and having all the information you need at your fingertips.

These dedicated software suites act as a “single source of truth” for teams, fostering better communication and collaboration and streamlining a process that was otherwise causing undue stress within the finance team.

 

There’s madness with the manual

Two of the key problems with the old spreadsheet-based approach were that spreadsheets are inherently strewn with errors, and that there was no good way to attach supporting documentation needed for auditing and compliance. Both of these issues meant the close process took far longer than it should.

With spreadsheets often copied, cloned, or cobbled together from other versions, you can never really be sure how old some of the formulas and macros are, and if they still work as they should. For this reason alone, it’s time to move into the 21st century and use purpose-built solutions for financial close. Reports suggesting that CFOs lack trust in their reported numbers really come as no surprise if these processes as still being used.

On the second of these issues, compliance – much more needs to be done. With more and more regulatory scrutiny being applied to corporate reporting, chief accounting officers need to ensure that the financial close process is conducted not only quickly, but in line with the latest guidance.

 

Digitalization by default

Thankfully, when dedicated financial close software was designed, this fact was recognized and the systems were built so that the step-by-step nature of the interface automatically prompted accountants to upload the relevant supporting documentation, which is then stored against transaction records with details of who uploaded them, when, and what for. This is not only a far better way to ensure this step in the process is followed and not forgotten but also ensures the job of auditing accounts is a far simpler task.

Adra by Trintech brings many benefits to accounting teams, providing the simplicity and control the office of finance has been crying out for for many years. As accounting teams gain confidence within the software, it will soon become the default way to manage their financial close.

Moving away from manual approaches and towards automation will shave hours if not days off your close – for those in the retail business, this is especially welcoming news. It means that even in the busiest times of the year, be it Black Friday or holiday sales, become no more challenging than any other month’s close. Empowered by technology, accountants can get on with the job without the stresses and strains of spreadsheets, and leave the office on time to spend their evening with families and friends.