A recent webinar entitled “A Leap Forward for Finance Leaders: How to Shorten Your Company’s Financial Close and Reporting in 2016,” provides excellent tips to organizations looking to streamline their closing and reporting process.
In the webinar, a poll was conducted in which attendees were asked whether they closed their books in a timely manner. About 28.5 percent of respondents claimed they didn’t close their books efficiently. This is an alarming number, but fortunately, there are easy ways to improve the speed and accuracy of the closing process.
Top Priorities Prior to Closing
Streamline your procedure, so your team can close the books quickly.
You need to have a list of priorities in place prior to closing, so you can approach the process as strategically as possible. According to Warren May, Comptroller at the International Association of Firefighters, his organization is more focused on the budget than actual reporting. As a nonprofit, virtually all of their money that comes in as revenue is later used on expenses. He cites the need for punctual recording of all transactions, so the financial analysis at the end of each month is more accurate, and they can easily alter their budgeting approach if needed.
Improving the Efficiency of the Closing Process
To speed up the closing process, it helps to identify the areas that are most problematic to your approach. Gary Wong, the Corporate Controller for Host Analytics, says his aim has always been to close the books within a 5-day timeframe, which is an achievable goal provided you’re approaching the closing process methodically.
Wong says, however, that the speed of closing largely depends on the type of business and their processes. Companies providing services will likely take longer to close, as will companies utilizing labor-intensive closing strategies. With cloud-based enterprise performance management (EPM) software, tracking company expenses is more efficient and accurate, which can drastically decrease the timeline of the closing process.
What Should Multinational Businesses Consider During the Reporting Process?
Brad Tingey, the Corporate Controller of Golden State Foods, says that considerations will vary among different organizations. For multinational businesses, they need to manage both the local and global reporting and closing procedures. With large businesses, it’s essential to gain a single source of truth, so remaining consistent across all branches and departments is imperative. With a cloud-based EPM solution, large enterprises can easily share data in the cloud, allowing all departments within an organization to follow the same procedures.
Streamlining the Financial Close for Nonprofit Organizations
Reduce paperwork and improve organization with cloud-based reporting.
By streamlining the closing process, nonprofit organizations can improve efficiency, while maintaining accuracy. May says that his team relies on automating certain closing tasks to streamline their procedure. Automating voucher approval, expense reporting, and other routine tasks has allowed his team to expedite their closing process, while reducing manual errors.
Eliminating data silos has also been critical. With cloud-based closing and reporting software, businesses can consolidate data from across departments to eliminate data silos, providing them with a more accurate view of company finances.
Financial reporting processes can always be improved upon. Tingey says that it’s imperative to have a strategic process in place, which is the most critical lesson he learned from his 2015 reporting. In 2016, his team intends to acquire new talent and continue to improve their process, while strengthening the key roles of team members. The best way to expedite reporting and closing is by eliminating inefficient tactics like Excel, relying on tasks automation when possible, and utilizing cloud-based software that promotes data consolidation and data sharing.
Watch the webinar, A Leap Forward for Finance Leaders: How to Shorten Your Company’s Financial Close and Reporting in 2016, to learn more. Then take the time to view a demo to experience the Host Analytics EPM solution.