Accounting

How to Make Year-End Close a Breeze

The end of the year is fast approaching. This means spending time with family and friends, eating delicious food, and maybe even taking some time off of work. It also means the time to close out the books on 2019 is rapidly approaching.

Year-end reconciliation is work-intensive on its own, but it’s not the only large project coming up. Audit season and tax season come right on the heels of year-end close, not to mention the day-to-day tasks that finance teams are responsible for all year round.

It can be frustrating for finance teams working hard on year-end close to have to spend hours, if not days, on manual data entry. Even more frustrating: when they need to step away from this large endeavor to explain to employees yet again the process for making business purchases or admonish someone who spent company money outside of policy.

Many finance teams have attempted to develop ways to ease the burden during busy season. Some companies, for example, require employees to submit expense reports no later than mid-December to allow finance teams time to close the books.

Strategies like that, however, slow companies down and hinder growth. Business doesn’t stop during year-end close. Purchases still need to be made, invoices need to be paid, and subscriptions need to be renewed, or operations will grind to a halt. 

The analyses conducted by finance teams at the end of the year are crucial in planning for the future and making smart, informed decisions for the company. When they spend too much time on disconnected manual tasks or get caught in the weeds of spend workflows, they can’t dedicate time to strategic initiatives and their organizations suffer.

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Be proactive

So, what can finance do to ease the burden of year-end close? The answer: put systems in place before busy season that allow the company to function smoothly during busy season.

Embed controls that govern spending into employees’ existing workflows. This guarantees compliance and allows finance to focus on strategic planning, feeling confident that employee spending won’t spiral out of control when they take their eyes off of it.

Automating the entire workflow makes for a seamless transfer of data and eliminates unnecessary manual work at each junction. Similarly, automated reconciliation syncs data in real time, allowing for complete visibility into company spending and accuracy of information

Finance professionals’ ultimate responsibility is to enable agility and fuel company growth. Although day-to-day tasks may overshadow this, finance teams need to remain true to their purpose and be strategic partners in their organization, especially at the start of the new year.

For too long, busy season has been synonymous with stress and anxiety, late nights and long weeks. By thinking strategically and leveraging technology intelligently in the right areas, finance teams can set themselves up for a successful—and less stressful—start to the year.