Groundhog day: Is it time to put an end to your month-end practices?
For finance teams, month-end seems to roll around in a flash. By the time you’ve collated and triple-checked your accounts, it’s suddenly back again. The process, which can take on average eight days per month to complete, is known for being a manually intensive, spreadsheet-driven task that many finance professionals typically dread.
But in this challenging climate where finance teams are attempting to steady a shaking ship, time is precious. For finance professionals, having the availability to dedicate those hours to other demanding tasks is imperative.
It’s never ideal when a core and essential responsibility in a company becomes a chore. For some time now, automated systems have made the process simpler, though many finance teams are still enduring the struggle by choosing to rely on manual methods and even physical paper ledgers to close the books. Finance teams have been reluctant and, at times, slow to adopt the latest digital advancements, and many of the hurdles they face come down to the lack of efficient systems in place.
With the current pandemic still very much at the forefront of our minds, and the majority of employees scattered across the country working remotely, having access to the latest cloud-based systems has become even more important.
Ordinarily, finance teams are expected to coordinate across multiple departments in order to close the books, identify missed payments, and track down missing receipts and other necessary documents that haven’t been correctly filed. Monitoring from home - using only manual-based systems and an unreliable VPN to access spreadsheets and other documents - will almost certainly leave finance teams at a disadvantage, wasting both valuable time and ultimately taking them away from jobs that require closer attention.
In today’s climate, the process of completing month-end is a major step towards business recovery, as it allows key figureheads at the firm the opportunity to understand the company’s true financial position. If collated inaccurately, or rushed by time-poor finance teams, the projection could lead to ill-informed decisions about the businesses’ future - from investment plans and onboarding, to unwanted overspending.
With the state of the global economy ever-changing, the decision-makers within businesses cannot risk relying on imprecise information. Without the most up-to-date figures and latest software at your disposal, the likelihood of costly decisions being made that do not advance the business objectives and, crucially, its recovery, is high.
A strong financial management system (FMS) however, will allow you and your team to monitor transactions closely and accurately project forecasting, without having to trawl through countless documents, identify irregular payments or nudge colleagues for late postings.
Particularly now, it is vital that leaders have access to real-time data and fast software, so they can re-focus their efforts and resources where necessary. Creating reports manually from scratch for example, including accruals, pre-payment and management reporting packs can sometimes take days to produce.
With a single automated dashboard, your finance teams will have a complete, 360-degree viewpoint of all the required reports, at any time and place – from a breakdown in employee expenses, to overheads based on office location and even communication costs. With modern reporting facilities, you can easily develop reports that will refresh data quickly in much less than a day, so there’s no need to feel like you’re on the back foot no matter the size of the company.
With an automated system at your team’s disposal, the month-end process should start to work like a well-oiled machine rather than a monthly chore to tick off your list. No longer will anomalies or missing receipts slow you down, instead you will spot trends and variances quicker, ultimately helping to put the business on the right track for the future. Not only this, by investing in the latest financial management system, your teams may just return to the office feeling re-energised and motivated to go again next month.
To find out more, download our free guide, Building Momentum: How to help fuel business recovery.