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Leveraging Technology In The Financial Close

Businesses can leverage technology to help them during the final close.

As the speed of business has increased over the years, accountants often feel greater pressure when it comes time to close the books. Speed is now a universal expectation, and as accountants work to analyze their company's data, there are a bounty of new tools available to them.

As the speed of business has increased over the years, accountants often feel greater pressure when it comes time to close the books. Speed is now a universal expectation, and as accountants work to analyze their company's data, there are a bounty of new tools available to them. Technology provides a variety of options to assist with the disclose process and to create more accurate, more informative financial reports.

Performance at the close
Firms that are efficient and use the best tools available during the close process are generally able to complete their disclosures within two or three days, while those who don't utilize best practices can take up to 12 days. Technology is the driving factor behind this difference in performance. This provides companies with a competitive advantage of several days, which they can use to focus their energy on moving business forward, rather than completing their disclosure.

Best and worst practices
Firms that haven't leveraged technology to help with their disclosure reports expend nearly half their time collecting data. This leaves little time for adequate analysis and reporting, and ties up time that could be spent on other projects. Classic spreadsheets are not sufficient for the close process, and these companies need to take advantage of other technology. Firms that perform well during closing are often able to spend just half a day collecting, organizing and adjusting data, which leaves a lot of time for analyzing data, comparative benchmarking and process efficiencies, which provide better direction for the company.

Tools for efficiency
There are several steps that companies can take to move from low to high performance at the close. Organizations should start by creating a book of records to track their financial results, which provides a unified format for both internal and external reporting. Next, establishing a chain of ownership sets up a system of accountability for the data and reporting process. Automating the process is helpful for managing this system of accountability as well as the entire reporting process. Businesses should use a unified set of rules and apply them repeatedly and consistently over the different aspects of the reporting process. Throughout each step of the close process, workers should be able to verify the information they receive, and automating this validation process can save time by providing a tool to quickly check data.

Access Financial Close Benchmarking Data