Three Elements of an Integrated Close Process
The results of innovation include a more effective, efficient process. Without innovation, many of the world’s processes would be ineffective and inept. Similarly, in the world of Finance & Accounting (F&A), innovation is needed to make process improvements and transition to a more efficient financial close.
The faster F&A teams finish their month-end close tasks, the sooner they can move on to strategic value-added initiatives, such as data analysis and strategic planning for new opportunities your business wants to pursue. The three key components you need to focus on in tandem to improve your overall close management include people, process, and technology.
There’s no doubt that automation has become the focal point in driving the Office of Finance’s innovations. After all, automation streamlines tasks that are often tedious, manual, and time-consuming — such as importing financial data, reconciliations, and multi-way transaction matching. Not only that but financial automation effectively reduces risk, errors, and time spent on the close by taking out the overreliance on human intervention to complete essential tasks.
This allows your F&A team to adequately leverage their skills and strategic capabilities to contribute to growing the business instead of spending significant time simply processing data.
While automation is a huge component of a streamlined and efficient close process, the people on your team must possess certain characteristics to adopt and maximize the benefits that financial automation technology can bring. Financial leaders should look for accounting and finance professionals who possess not only optimal skills for the job but also those that are willing to adapt to change as needed.
As your mid-market organization continues to grow and mature, your team’s processes and the tools utilized by them will change in tandem. Refining your talent is crucial for reaping the most benefits of financial automation. Finance professionals that can quickly learn and adapt to changes in their day-to-day work are a huge priority for the modern Office of Finance. Having an adaptable team ensures your organization is well equipped for any dynamic changes they may face.
Leveraging financial automation technology to enable a flawed and inefficient process is a common mistake that many organizations are still making. In an effort to keep up with technology, companies are desperately trying to deploy automation simply to expedite their current processes. However, without laying the proper foundation for financial automation with accurate, reliable, and standardized processes — you run the risk of simply making a bad process run faster, further exposing your organization to increased risk.
To combat accelerating a previously flawed process, you need to analyze and document your current financial close process to standardize across the organization. After that, you can confidently move forward with implementing automation technology and ensure that your Office of Finance is producing reliable financial statements and reporting needed to make essential business decisions.
While typically seen as only a back-office operation with little impact on the front-office operations, the modern Office of Finance has evolved to a strategic voice in the business. To provide that strategic voice, it is critical that the financial automation technology deployed allows the team to help drive the future direction of the organization.
The technology that has been historically used by the Office of Finance — commonly spreadsheets and other legacy tools — presents an increased level of risk for mid-market organizations due to the inherent lack of visibility, standardization, and control. By leveraging a simplified financial close automation solution that encompasses core close processes — from data import from the ERP system to reporting and analytics — you can effectively manage and view a single source of truth for your company’s financial performance.
A comprehensive and streamlined financial automation solution allows you to address all key areas, and completely move away from an ad hoc process to a first-class month-end close. With the right people, process, and technology in place, you can significantly improve your close management and begin to realize the first-class level of efficiency and effectiveness.
Written by: Alex Clem