Month End Close Checklist your CFO will Love
They say love is pain. Your first heartbreak, the one that got away and of course, the month-end close.
Here at Skystem we love our close, but when careless mistakes and inefficiencies turn into overtime and late nights, things can get painful fast. We want your close to go as smoothly as possible, so we’re sharing our favorite month-end close best practices your CFO will love.
Table of Contents
Keep track of your notes
Sticky notes: great for a quick reminder, not so great for important info. Writing notes on paper or even in an Excel spreadsheet can easily get lost in the shuffle. If possible, try to keep everything in a central repository. Make sure to stay organized and you’ll thank yourself later.
Eliminate status-update meetings
We’ve all found ourselves in a meeting that could have been an email. It’s a tale as old as time, and one that wastes energy and interrupts workflow. Often when we reach the month-end close, there are tight deadlines to be met, and even an extra hour can detract from precious reconciliation time. There are better ways to maintain transparency, like the use of task trackers where everyone on the team can see the real-time status of reconciliations.
Cut corners the right way
Making work easier is all about finding shortcuts that yield results without sacrificing quality.
Think long and hard about your monthly closing process. Is there a way to reconcile your accounts faster? A solution to cut down on bureaucracy? Try timekeeping during your next close. A quick analysis can reveal which activities are consuming the most time and potentially prone to inefficiencies. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your solutions and remember—there are an endless supply of tools out there!
Standardize to maintain consistency
Close your eyes and try to picture everything on your month-end close checklist. Did you miss a few things? With complicated processes it’s always best to go in with a plan.
One of the best ways to cut down on errors in the month-end close is to introduce standardization. Everyone has their own unique way of doing things, which is why humankind is continually able to reach new heights of innovation. Unfortunately, with a process that demands uniformity like the month-end close, this strength becomes a hindrance.
Here are some closing elements your department should consider standardizing:
- Journal entries
- Cover sheets
Implementing a standard doesn’t mean there will never be room for change. We recommend reviewing your process every once in a while to ensure it’s still meeting your company’s needs.
Clean while you cook
There’s nothing better than a home-cooked meal until you see the stack of dirty dishes, spills on the counter and ingredients strewn left and right. If only you had attended to the mess while it happened instead of waiting until the end! Accounting is the same way.
Tackle issues as they arise rather than waiting until month-end. Keep on top of inconsistencies. When you know from day zero about any variances and write offs, you’ll be more prepared by the time the deadline arrives. Not only will this keep you more organized, it will also relieve the psychological burden of stress and burnout.
Automate your month-end close
The thought of introducing automation into a workplace can feel a little unsettling at first. After all, now that we have self-driving cars, it’s not long until the robots take our jobs, right?! Not to worry—while month-end automation software can replace many of the more monotonous and repetitive tasks, it will never be able to replace a real, live human. Automating tedious manual close activities will free up time for you to focus on more high value work, like flux analysis.
Following these month-end close best practices will streamline your close and give you and your team greater peace of mind. Take your close to the next level with SkyStem’s ART, a software that provides a solution for all these month-end close best practices. ART keeps the whole department’s documentation in one place, enables standardization and can even system reconcile your accounts! If you’re ready to try automating your month-end close and eliminate up to 90% of manual activities, schedule a demo to see ART in action. Your CFO will thank you.