The modern business environment is ever-changing and companies must be agile and flexible to thrive. When it comes to finances, this often amounts to an ongoing need to rethink, re-forecast, analyse and act when new data emerges – all on top of the traditional, often stress-inducing, task of closing the books.
As such, there is an ever-present need for finance professionals to find ways to close the books faster. Doing so frees up time to give the business the agility it needs to respond to changing needs. Finance professionals everywhere feel the pressure to close the books faster, and there are cloud solutions like NetSuite and Sage 200 that offer data collecting, automation and reporting tools that make this possible.
Here are some tips for closing your books faster.
1. Integrate Accounting Systems Throughout the Company
In years gone by, the best tool businesses had for making financial reports was spreadsheet software. This can still be useful today, but it has some substantial limitations. For example, it doesn’t detect data input errors, which could delay the process of closing the books when an error is discovered further down the line.
ERP software can eliminate issues like these, automatically collecting and consolidating data from everywhere in the organisation so that everything feeds into a single, centralised platform. This way, you ensure accuracy and complete traceability, and everything happens much quicker than it would if data entry and transfers were done manually.
2. Enable Company-wide Collaboration
To close the books quickly, there must be collaboration between members of the organisation. This way, accounting data can be double-checked to ensure a smooth and accurate flow. Collaboration can also help with ensuring complete compliance with accounting regulations. Software like ERP makes collaboration far easier, with features to allow employees to submit output for checking and approval. This also provides the opportunity for the approver to make comments and edits, which are automatically highlighted by the software so that the employee can easily find where to focus their efforts.
3. Facilitate Smart Workflows
Delays to the deliverables of finance officers is a common hindrance to closing the books quickly. ERP systems provide predefined and custom workflows to help overcome this obstacle. These systems combine automation and step-by-step processes to enable organisations to have greater transparency around bottlenecks in the accounting process. Furthermore, everyone will have visibility on pending tasks and who is responsible for them, as well as task status and any available comments and remarks.
4. Optimise for Compliance
When companies have multiple accounting systems, particularly where there are numerous territories involved, compliance with finance and accounting regulations can be challenging. There must still be a standardised set of data across the organisation, but there may also need to be certain provisions made to address the needs of different locations. ERP systems like NetSuite OneWorld have built-in tools for this – creating a standardised set of financial data for the central organisation, whilst modifying the relevant data for compliance in different geographical locations. This can save vast amounts of time when closing the books.
5. Use Automation Where Possible
If you are able to implement robust automation via your enterprise systems, the data and the work can be done regularly instead of accumulating it all for a big job at the end of the month, quarter or year. The financial tools in your ERP provide automation that adds and submits data in real-time, making it far easier for finance professionals to determine the accounts payable and receivable for the organisation. The software also makes things like currency conversions and ageing calculations much easier – these are all things that can take time if someone has to do them manually.
6. Maintain Data Integrity
Corrupted, altered or deleted data can be a huge problem for a company. It can be a very costly concern for organisations because that data is what they use to make decisions. The processes required to amend poorly managed data can be very time-consuming and hamper the closing of your books, so it pays to implement processes to maintain data integrity. ERP systems have built-in tools to do this by implementing data classification so you can feel confident about the financial data your company accumulates.
7. Assign Roles Efficiently
When auditing financial data, the roles and duties of the individuals involved must be clearly defined. NetSuite can help with this in several ways, such as generating role-based reports or carrying out searches to locate the users that have administrative or ‘special user’ roles. Having the tools to do this can help with optimising workflows and ensuring data consistency so that the processes required to close the books happen smoothly.
8. Streamline Approvals
Journal entries can only be closed with internal approval, and this can end up taking many hours if you don’t have efficient software like a good ERP. For example, NetSuite has a ‘saved searches’ feature that can streamline approvals by sending out an automatic alert to the relevant party whenever approval is needed. This can greatly reduce the time needed to close the books. Sicon WAP for Sage 200 also streamlines approvals by automatically sending approval requests to the appropriate people.
9. Generate High-quality Financial Statements
The finance and accounting tools in ERP systems can draw from all the necessary data to build robust financial reports. The data classification helps generate accurate reports from the consolidated data, and these can be customised with additional fields and other things you might need. ERP systems automate the creation of reports, statements and dashboards using real-time data, with features available for localised tax calculations and other bespoke requirements. All reports will contain accurate, up-to-date data for you to work with, so you can move forward with closing the books with confidence.
It is extremely important to adopt the right software to meet the ever-changing demands of the market. Being slow to close the books will hamper your business progression and make you feel like you are always playing catch-up with the evolving markets and business climate.
The tips in this article are just some of the many things you can do, but ERP software like NetSuite and Sage 200 offer a vast array of tools and features to achieve them.
Why choose Eventura as your ERP implementation partner?
Eventura has been providing robust business solutions to countless organizations for over two decades. We are ERP experts and can identify all of your business needs, and deliver a comprehensive ERP solution that works for you.
As Sage 200 Partners and NetSuite Solution Providers, we can help you identify which solution will fit your business needs the best. Our expert team of business analysts, developers, consultants, technicians and support staff can guide you through your entire project, from initial scoping through to implementation and on-going support.
We’re also managed IT service providers meaning we can help you identify your entire IT infrastructure requirements from day one. If you would like to speak to one of our ERP experts, you can request a free call back here.