Modernizing your month-end close will save your F&A team valuable time while reducing risk and improving the overall accuracy and confidence in your reporting. This blog series looks at “5 Best Practices” to help you get started on that journey. The first step we covered was the importance of establishing a stable foundation by aligning your people, processes, policy and technology. Then we discovered the importance of establishing a risk-based approach and standardizing your month-end close processes across all entities and geographies. Now we will dive into optimizing your month-end close with advanced automation.
With the accelerating shift to digitization, organizations are forced to re-evaluate their manual business processes to stay competitive. According to The Hackett Group, “Highly educated accountants and financial personnel spend 65%+ of their time on manual, low-value processes.” This manual work brings little value to the overall business, and yet our highly skilled teams are consistently burdened by this manual workload each month.
To optimize your month-end close with advanced automation, start by identifying those rule-based activities that involve system and non-system work, that are often mundane and tedious, and look to automate those sub processes. By adopting advanced automation, your team will achieve a consistent approach that can reduce manual controls minimizing the impact on your team, thus allowing them to refocus their time on strategic initiatives for your business. Let’s look at some examples of advanced automation:
- Risk-Intelligent Routing: Identifying the number of reconciling items and routing approval to additional reviewers or a higher authority.
- Remediation Automation: Ensuring that control test failures automatically trigger the control to go through remediation prior to being able to be tested again.
- Process Automation: After the standardization phase, automating rule-based activities to ensure speed and consistency across the process. The automation of processes also increases the automation of control.
- Artificial Intelligence: Exploring and embracing opportunities for deployment of AI to complement your existing control framework to identify transactional outliers that may be missed with normal detective processes.
- Data Integration: Seamlessly move data with extract, transform and load (ETL) capability to drive more automated reconciliations.
Advanced automation offers process improvements to optimize your finance operation and can be easily controlled to minimize risk. Below are just a few benefits that advanced automation provides:
With financial close automation, you can strengthen your internal controls by establishing structured processes to help you know what to expect from your close. By optimizing your processes with automation, you can create reliable financial statements in a timely manner that can be used to make critical business decisions. Without risk mitigation, uncertainty and doubt cloud the whole process.
Increased Visibility and Control
If there is the ability to see what is going on, then there is the opportunity to make positive changes. Financial close automation works to build compliant, up-to-date, and relevant reporting even when the business and its data keep growing and the goalposts keep moving. Complete visibility enables greater trust and confidence in the reported numbers throughout the month-end close process.
“Mistakes create rework not only for us but also our clients, so having a solution that gives us that visibility into the accuracy and quality of our people is critical.” – Auxis
Talent Attraction and Retention
With financial close automation, finance teams can dedicate their time to more strategic projects instead of worrying about deadlines on time-consuming manual activities. With the shift of mid-career talent moving around the workforce, financial close automation helps fill in the gaps by ensuring that the financial close can still be completed on time and without increased risk. Work can be transitioned smoothly and accurately across new hires or existing talent, thanks to standardized and documented processes put in place by automation.
“For the first time you can’t just hire more people to solve the problem. You have to figure out how to solve the problem differently. That is where technology is going to have to be the saving grace as we rethink our approach to solving the talent gap.” – Teresa Mackintosh, Trintech CEO
It’s time to optimize your processes with advanced automation
No matter how capable finance teams are, without integrated technology, it is difficult to close quickly, efficiently and without risk. Invest in a solution that can be utilized to automate activities and tasks throughout the entirety of the month-end close process. Not only will you modernize mundane tasks for your finance teams but also create increased confidence in the data and reporting.
After optimizing your month-end close processes with advanced automation, look ahead to best practice 5 and build a collaborative ecosystem.
To learn more about how you can optimize your month-end close, download the Best Practice eBook below.
Blog Series – 5 Best Practices to Modernizing Your Month-End Close
- Best Practice 1: Align Your People, Process, Policy and Technology
- Best Practice 2: Implement a Risk-Based Approach
- Best Practice 3: Driving Standardization to Reduce Risk and Gain Visibility across the Month-End Close
- Best Practice 5: Build a Collaborative Ecosystem
Written by: Lauren McCrohan