We know month end is always just around the corner, we even count down to it one workday at a time. However, it is never fun for any finance team. The late nights, the balances that seem to defy logic and just not reconcile no matter what you do...
To help get you through, or just kill some time, here are 10 top tips for surviving month-end close.
1. Learn from last month:
After month end, we just want to purge it from our minds and move on. However, we must unfortunately revisit it and especially re-assess any issues that arose to ensure that they do not occur again and that each month-end close is better than the last.
2. Plan ahead:
Don't wait until the last minute to do the essential planning items like rolling forward your checklist and allocating the work across the team. Try to factor in any known or potential spanners and timeline changes.
3. Communicate with your team:
Plan for month end with the whole team. Everyone has a role to play so everyone should have a voice throughout the planning and execution of month end. Ambiguity is the killer of any team process, if your team is not 100% sure what they are doing and when it is due, it will all fall apart. This will reduce any surprises and the ensuing overtime they cause.
4. Use technology to your advantage:
Accounting is a specialty of its own and requires the correct tools to be done correctly. Make sure you have the right tools and software to correctly streamline the month-end close process. Don't be afraid to use them to your advantage.
5. Keep an eye on deadlines:
It's important to stay on top of deadlines and the team’s progress towards those deadlines during the month-end close process. Make sure you know not only when items are due, but also whether they are currently on track to be completed, and reallocate tasks where needed.
6. Prioritize your tasks:
Not all tasks are created equal, always factor in time sensitivity and materiality. Unfortunately, some items may have to be only ‘materially correct’ to ensure that everything gets done.
7. Double-check everything:
Always give work the final once over. It is always faster and less embarrassing to fix an Excel formula error earlier in the process and not after the ledger is closed and you are playing the ‘how material is this’ game.
8. Be proactive:
Try to identify any potential issues before they arise. This can be thinking about downstream consequences or anything you could do at the beginning of a process to help others out. Remember that month-end close is a team activity so always check in on the team and their workload.
9. Keep your cool:
It’s already a stressful time, panicking will not help you hit those tight deadlines. Throughout the whole process just remember to take a deep breath, have another coffee, and channel your inner zen.
10. Celebrate when it's over:
Ensure you always celebrate success. Once it is all over, take a moment to celebrate…. And then see step one for next month.
If you dread month end or want to know more about the specialised tools that are available to help the team get through month end close, then we at Easy Month End
would love to hear from you.
We aim to make your next month end the easiest yet!