How Continuous Accounting Can Transform Your Business

Elizabeth Milne

Last month I wrote a blog post, “What Is Continuous Accounting?”, which shared information on a webinar on the topic (watch the replay). Today, I’d like to share a research paper about continuous accounting. We worked with Ventana Research to develop this fantastic five-page paper.

Here’s a snippet: “The continuous accounting approach integrates people, processes, information, and technology to achieve a transformation of the finance function and its corporate role. Continuous accounting is based on three principles:

  • Use technology to distribute departmental workloads continuously across account of periods.
  • Support continuous, end-to-end process management to enhance efficiency and increase data integrity.
  • Adopt a continuous improvement approach to overcome inertia and the ‘we’ve always done it this way’ mindset to which finance staffs are particularly prone.”

The paper examines each of these key principles in further detail.

Continuous accounting: transformative for finance

The concept and implementation of continuous accounting is transformational for accounting and the finance department. The ability to truly harness technology to enable an “always-on” approach will change the processes and traditional approaches. As you examine existing processes and evaluate how technology can improve them, you’ll understand how the traditional approaches we designed were based on the technologies that existed at the time.

Computers and accounting aren’t usually considered to be exciting, sexy, sizzling topics. But for me, the thought of what is possible is really exciting. Transformation of accounting processes and period-end closing and the production of financial reports is very refreshing. As a colleague once told me, accountants aren’t boring people; they just get excited about boring things.

Continuous accounting: critical for the business

The concept of continuous improvement is also intriguing. For accountants, doing the same thing period after period can be tedious, but transformation can be inspiring. Providing financial information is critical for any business, being able to access that information sooner allows organizations to make better decisions. A closer relationship between the accounting and operational departments fosters collaboration and the ability to provide the information that is most relevant.

Improving these processes also enables people to work smarter, not harder. This can help with work/life balance since it can reduce the number of hours worked at period end by distributing tasks throughout the period.

After all, the period-end close and reporting is required, speeding that close is desired, and continuous accounting is inspired and admired.

What do you think—would continuous accounting be transformative for your business? Connect with me here or on Twitter: @ElizabethEMilne.

Learn more

Read the free research paper here. And read more in our Continuous Accounting Series. 

This article originally appeared on the SAP BusinessObjects Analytics blog and has been republished with permission.

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Elizabeth Milne

About Elizabeth Milne

Elizabeth Milne has over 20 years of experience improving the software solutions for multi-national, multi-billion dollar organizations. Her finance career began working at Walt Disney, then Warner Bros. in the areas of financial consolidation, budgeting, and financial reporting. She subsequently moved to the software industry and has held positions including implementation consultant and manager, account executive, pre-sales consultant, solution management team at SAP, Business Objects and Cartesis. She graduated with an Executive MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. In 2014 she published her first book “Accelerated Financial Closing with SAP.” She currently manages the accounting and financial close portfolio for SAP Product Marketing. You can follow her on twitter @ElizabethEMilne