It’s a simple fact that historically, the Office of Finance has been seen as being responsible for the month end close process above any other function. However, that perception has been changing in recent years: according to Gartner’s 2021 CFO Perspective, CFOs are shifting priorities from functions focused on value protection—such as balancing the books—to value creation, like predictive modeling.
Accurate numbers will always be the cornerstone of the Office of Finance. Governance and compliance have traditionally been critical to business and will continue to be. But forward-thinking CFOs need to embrace creativity and possess the ability to respond to the uncertainties that are becoming increasingly common in today’s world. If accounting teams want to become future-focused and prove to be natural value drivers, then it’s essential to achieve a month end close process that is fast, accurate, and efficient. This is only possible by investing in people, process, and technology.
Common Challenges During the Month End Close Process
#1: People Aren’t Reaching Their Potential Due To Repetitive Tasks
When accounting teams aren’t approaching the month end close process proactively, people don’t have the opportunity to thrive. Heavily manual processes that rely on tools like spreadsheets can lead to human error, and problems can only be solved reactively after they’ve already occurred.
When accountants spend so much of their time and efforts retrieving and organizing data to get it into spreadsheets, they have very little time to be able to do the analytical work. However, by investing in standardizing processes and providing the right technology tools, this balance can be inverted, and employees will rise to the occasion.
By leveraging automation tools like Adra by Trintech, a lot of that data extraction or formatting is done automatically with the application. Adra Balancer can automatically reconcile items on the balance sheet according to specific rules like identifying zero balances, and accountants have to investigate only the exceptions. High-volume transaction matching and multi-way matching can be done by Adra Matcher, cutting down on the hours spent parsing data that typically matches already.
This frees up more time for analysis and the creative work that led employees to pursue college, CPA certification, etc. Beyond that, it provides opportunities for career development and building new skills through upgrading the finance team to learn and understand the new digital tools that they’re using. In this way, accountants can add value not just to the Office of Finance but also to the organization as a whole.
#2: Processes Aren’t Standardized Across Regions or Teams
Before any new technology can be applied to Office of Finance functions, the month end close process itself needs to be clearly standardized. If each team, region, or function handles the process differently, then applying the same standard throughout just isn’t possible.
Additionally, the process needs to be optimized. If automation is applied to a flawed process then the tool in place will make the same mistakes as accountants, only faster.
Training for different users and audiences across different departments is essential for improving processes and keeping them consistent. When onboarding a new employee, organizations need to ensure that they’re completing their work correctly, from the first time on. Offering refresher courses and clearly communicating any process changes is also essential.
Once a standardized process is in place, tools like Adra Task Manager can document those workflows and provide visibility into who is assigned what tasks. Real-time dashboards offer a single source of truth for management to gain much-needed oversight, while team members can complete their tasks and move forward without worrying about unreliable lines of communication like spreadsheets or shouting across cubicles.
#3: Technology Isn’t Being Leveraged to Maximize the Month End Close Process
An Office of Finance that invests in its people and processes will still have trouble reaching its vision of the future if its existing technology is outdated. As mentioned in that same Gartner survey, CFOs’ goals include digitalizing the finance function. Forward-thinking CFOs will know that they’re not just solving for the now and need a scalable solution.
A shift toward automation and optimization is meant to help accountants, not replace them. Utilizing tools to automate the administrative work allows teams to spend more time doing the creative work that they love and are wired for.
By investing in the right technology, improving their processes, and fostering talent, the Office of Finance can modernize for growth and add value to the overall business. To find out more about how Trintech can empower your teams, contact us today to schedule a demo.
Written by: Nathan Stabenfeldt