It’s five minutes before the monthly business review meeting. Your palms are sweaty, your breathing is shallow, and you’re bracing yourself for the blame you know is coming.
Your accounting team has spent days manually reconciling accounts, matching the usual high-volume of transactions, and making sense of multiple versions of rainbow spreadsheets and checklists galore. But as accountants strive to get to the finish line, working late nights and weekends, they often don’t have time to do the high-level gut check or thorough variance analysis, and they rush to put together the reporting package in time for that infamous meeting.
As a result, this meeting is known for surprises and questions. which creates tension within the team. As you walk into the monthly review, you’re hoping there are no blatant errors – but you can’t be sure the numbers are rock-solid either. And you know that if projections are off, accounting will take the blame.
The worst part is that every month, it’s like deja vu. You walk into the close meeting mentally prepared for the finger-pointing because that’s just the way it is.
Accountants strive to be respected as valued business partners who deliver dependable results. But because your organization relies on manual processes, this ideal seems like nothing more than a dream.
The constant fear that keeps you up at night
What keeps controllers up at night? It’s that, despite their best efforts, something was missed. There’s an unintentional error that doesn’t get caught, or worse, is caught by an auditor or third party.
With manual processes, you’re set up to fail. You can’t possibly catch everything, so you do your best, focusing on the highest-risk areas, and hope it’s enough.
The worst part is that you’re aware of the inherent risk, but you feel overwhelmed by the thought of redesigning the entire close process to address it.
Here’s the good news: There is a better way. And it doesn’t have to be an all-consuming effort.
A unified solution with immediate benefits
Process automation is designed to automate any manual, repeatable process. A cloud-based finance controls and automation platform adds efficiency and visibility to the entire financial close, acting as a centralized hub for general ledger data, sub-ledger data, and other relevant financial data from various sources and applications.
This solution connects the data and delivers timely, intelligent notifications of balance changes, laying the foundation for balance sheet integrity. Cloud-based software is typically easy to set up and offers a quick time-to-value.
Did you just breathe a sigh of relief? You’re not alone, and the best is yet to come. Leading organizations are experiencing these immediate benefits that increase over time as additional enhancements are realized.
Efficiency and automation
Business rules can be applied to data and transactions, allowing for system-certification of certain accounts when predetermined criteria are met. Reconciliation templates pre-populate key fields, roll forward relevant items, and even amortize prepaids automatically.
These solutions save considerable effort, reduce risk, and allow highly skilled accountants to focus on more judgmental or high-risk areas.
Control and compliance
Technology provides a reliable compliance framework for financial close activities, including journal entries, balance-sheet account reconciliations, variance analysis, and transaction-level reviews. These are designed around controls, which ensure that key processes are secure, standardized, repeatable, and wherever possible, automated.
A unified solution dramatically reduces the risk of misstatement and minimizes potential control failures. It also provides a clear audit trail and ensures that segregation of duties is maintained.
The most significant impact is combatting the rising cost of compliance, with savings at all levels of the process.
Visibility and transparency
When it comes to financial close processes, visibility is imperative. Paper, binders, storage rooms, shared drives, and spreadsheets strewn across many locations create confusion and lack transparency.
Process automation solutions transform the close into a transparent, manageable process. Information is quickly and easily disseminated through powerful dashboards and customizable reports.
These solutions are designed to track KPIs, document progress, and highlight risk, including those risks driven by required adjustments, delinquencies, and incomplete processes. Managers can quickly identify potential issues and address them before they affect the business. Best of all, controllers can finally sleep soundly through the night.
Read this brief to learn more about how you can end the finger-pointing and attend meetings with confidence.
This article originally appeared on BlackLine.com and is republished by permission.