The review process in an accounting department falls largely on one person. Key individuals are required to manage the entire close process of the organisation. In a timely manner they must report financial results to the CFO, all while reviewing the Staff/Senior Accountant’s work for accuracy and completeness. Here are a few things to focus on that will help streamline the monthly review and close process:
Accountants understand, from their audit days, the concept of risk-based auditing. A similar strategy can be applied to the review process during the close. Accounts related to revenue or liabilities are extremely important to get correct as these areas are perceived as high risk from an audit standpoint and should be reviewed thoroughly during each close period. Your most senior finance person is likely reporting to the management of the company, receiving accurate financial data and has a direct effect on business decisions. For those lower risk accounts, consider doing a soft close on a monthly basis and a hard close quarterly. This will save you time in the short term, while still giving you peace of mind regarding the accuracy of your financial statements for quarterly or annual reporting.
As NetSuite is a cloud based, real time data management set, the information is readily at hand to manage, information being in one place, and readily available in real-time.
This gives you the information and data at hand you need to be able to close with confidence, the key period end data that will help support your business and essentially its overall health and growth.
Start with Accuracy
When reviewing work, I always start at the end and work backwards. The tie-out from any work to a trial balance is usually the end point for your employee's work, however this end point will be the starting point for you. Before you look at the detail, make sure what you are reviewing is accurate and up to date. A complete end to end business solution based on centralisation of data, single input, and managed workflows give's you visibility into the accuracy of your business information and logic. This in turn enable's you to immediately compare previous months, ongoing work, notice of accuracy and the GL, which in turn will reduce manual interaction and further speed up your review time, allowing you to close quickly. This gives improved management of information and allows you to have evidenced based information and data at hand. Not only will this data be accurate, but it will be complete, giving you the confidence you need.
It is well-known that spreadsheets can be the source of many un-audited changes and in themselves can cause a risk to the management and accuracy of data coming through your business. Let us eliminate the data risk of having information managed in spreadsheets, or outside of a managed and controlled environment, and consolidate the information that reviews and manages your business end to end.
The review process traditionally contains a lot of back and forth; each round of communication can take time as email is often the primary medium of communication in organisations. When reviewing information, often times you will leave review notes for people when questions arise or items need to be updated. It may seem as if fixing incomplete data yourself would be the fastest route to completing the work, but by leaving review notes you can create a teaching opportunity that will improve the quality of the work you receive going forward. If your process for managing information accuracy is correct, documented, and embedded in a single environment, then the information management joins your business, improving practice across the organization. In order to streamline processes, NetSuite has created a number of functions including built in workflows, notes functions, task management, and document libraries, these allow you to track your activities, tasks, documents, workflows, escalations, notes and alert your team in real time of any changes they need to make. The NetSuite solution means this data and information flow also remain within the application going forward and are easily accessible for audit purposes, continual improvement, and learning. By facilitating and tracking your communication, NetSuite can help cut time in the review process, eliminate repetitive mistakes, and provide continual improvement.
The small changes you make during your review can go a long way in reducing time spent during financial close. Keep your focus on the high-risk accounting areas and make sure you’re always reviewing data and information that is available to you on a daily basis as and when it happens, and ensure that they tie to the GL. Adopting the NetSuite solution will reduce time spent on reviewing the reconciliations for quantitative accuracy, allowing key staff to focus on a more qualitative review of the numbers. Effective communication is key in any department, especially with the back and forth related to correction. Keep these things in mind during your next close and think of the benefits you would have if you were to use a single solution, with a good process management discipline, and the opportunity to directly manage live data and embed continuous improvement within your organisation, you could watch your efficiency improve. Every adjustment you make will amount to time savings and an opportunity to perfect a review process that occurs on a continuous basis.