It may feel like a stretch, but 2020 has presented finance and accounting teams with a few hiccups. Jokes aside, there’s a good chance that no one was really prepared for work-from-home orders now bordering on half a year. It’s understandable. Even if your team is diligent and had only spent a couple minutes each day at the water cooler, it’s likely that up until April, your team was seated just far enough apart to be considered socially distanced.
From a Few Feet Away to a Few Dozen Miles
This meant a few things. If two people needed to collaborate on something, they could walk over to someone’s desk, discuss the issue, and work it out within a couple minutes. “Hey, could you send me that report” was enough to get the report in hand. Now, it’s Zoom Calls and Slack boards—things more commonly associated with your sales and marketing team than your accounting staff.
Though this was likely a significant change early on, your team likely adapted to most processes. However, one area that still feels like a challenge is that of the monthly close. It may have gotten better, but connecting all of the moving parts across the organization is still a bit jagged—an email here, a notification there, it’s quite often a bit less fluid than you’d hope.
However, the work from home orders were only one more nudge to something many companies have been focused on for a while—outdated monthly close processes are not viable.
The Need for Connected Close
The business world has continued to push organizations to move faster. This has been a trend over the past decade, but it probably took a few staff cuts to show you that elbow grease isn’t enough to handle the increasing amount of data in a reasonable time.
That said, some companies were ready and able to make the shift. In fact, a recent article in Accounting Today explored how those who leveraged financial close technology were able to pivot without problems. In fact, AT author Brad Coleman went so far to say that financial close software is now a must-have, noting the following reasons:
Seamless Collaboration to Reduce Tribalism
When workstations are next to each other, information doesn’t need to pass through an email server. Enter financial close software. Designed to help bridge the gaps, Coleman found that they’ve become more efficient working form home.
“Since all necessary data is updated and viewable in real-time, it’s easy to see who is responsible for which individual tasks, as well as how far along they are with that task. If you need to ask a question about a specific aspect of the monthly close, you can save time by seeing who the exact person is who will know the answer or piece of data you need, assign a note and avoid wasting the team’s time with mass emails or Slack messages.”
This comes with good reason. According to FloQast, close management software helps to identify and eliminate bottlenecks while still holding people accountable. No more micromanagement, no more status updates.
Transparency and Real Time Information
When teams are distributed, it can be hard to know who is working on a specific task at any given point in time. SaaS-based accounting software addresses this issue by continually updating statuses in real-time, so team members know where they are throughout the close.
Time sensitive tasks are completed in a timely manner, and users can see where we are throughout the close process, able to focus internal communication on these more important and pressing issues.
Today’s companies can’t miss any kind of opportunity to improve—and close management makes this possible. Each month should get easier and better—not slower, more email-reliant, and clunkier.
Improving the monthly close process in terms of both time-to-close and the quality of close is a continuous process of learning. By connecting automation, data, and intelligence, companies can use information to make the process more efficient and smarter.
Connect Your Close
As a controller, you need to focus on speed, efficiency, and constant improvement—especially if you’ve needed to make a cut or two. We’re thankful for our sponsor FloQast, who helps to keep businesses of all sizes ready to close. Get to know more about them and download The Definitive Guide To the Month-End Close for more information.
Additional Month-End Close Resources
Five Challenges Standing between You and Month-End Close Peace
Demystifying the Month-End Close: What Is Close Management Software and Why Do I Need It?