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Software used to accelerate the close process

Has anyone found a particular software, legacy modification or bolt on effective in accelerating the close process?

Thank you

Answers

Deanna Miller
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Professional Plumbing Group
(Chief Financial Officer, Professional Plumbing Group) |

I recommend looking at this in three steps. First, are the ERP system automation functions fully implemented - inventory movements, payables, invoicing, intercompany charges? Second, is the ERP system as seamlessly linked to a reporting and analysis tool (minimum time from the accountants saying "we're closed" to system generated reports)? Third, are all the functions involved - accounting, warehouse, purchasing, stores, etc. - disciplined in recording actions real time and following the closing calendar?

My most recent international business unit had the first item nailed and constantly enforced the third. Where we struggled was on the second item - getting reliable information in an automated report that could be used to communicate the results across the organization. As a result, even though accounting and all the support functions were done with entries by noon on work day 3 with any reconciliation clean up by 10 a.m. on work day 4, it would be several days to a week before we would have reports to the business and parent. Our new CFO has made closing the gap on the second item a priority.

FYI - We are implementing Business Objects on top of SAP ERP & BW.

Topic Expert
Linda Wright
Title: Consultant
Company: Wright Consulting
(Consultant, Wright Consulting) |

Thank you. In my last corporate role, we were using SAP too and also had issues with the timeliness and quality of reporting.

Topic Expert
Bob Stenz
Title: Controller
Company: Silicon Valley start-up
(Controller, Silicon Valley start-up) |

I saw a presentation on http://www.blackline.com/ (at a Proformative Seminar no less) from AAA (yes, the auto insurance folks) use of Blackline to accelerate their close (i.e. track reconciliations and processes). I have not used Blackline, however, it seemed to have some worthwhile benefits and is on my tools to watch list.

Patricia Montour
Title: CPA, CGMA
Company: Private Company
(CPA, CGMA, Private Company) |

The understanding of the entire group that "meeting the schedule" is critical has been the largest issue in recent experience. Once that is achieved the balance has the opportunity to fall into place.

Jeffrey Chalmers
Title: President, Financial Effectiveness Team ..
Company: Silicon Valley Accountants
(President, Financial Effectiveness Team Leader, Silicon Valley Accountants) |

I have accelerated the close process using a process optimization methodology which considers a variety of approaches, including re-engineering the close process, increased use of existing technology features and implementation of new technologies. For a continuously improving close process, we have had success using Hyland Software's AFRM solution.

Gerry Anderson
Title: President and Founder
Company: Logicon Solutions
LinkedIn Profile
(President and Founder, Logicon Solutions) |

Jeffrey and Deanna are correct in what they are saying. While the steps sound simple, it's not easy because you are dealing with systems and with people not under the direct control of finance. There are a few packages out there to help improve what is called the 'last mile of finance'. However, you also want to leverage some lean six sigma techniques to ensure the technology doesn't speed up a bad process. Email me and I can share with you the options and the costs on the technology as well as some techniques to help you reduce your close (some insurance companies completely close in one day. yes, by day two, their numbers are out and the variance analysis is published to the business units to ask for answers.)

Sean Finneran
Title: Financial Analyst
Company: Sea Island Co
(Financial Analyst, Sea Island Co) |

We found Host Analytics as a great, modern tool to help accelerate out close. Our legacy ERP made reporting, analyzing and just understanding how the chips fell during the process endless. We could not get eyes on issues quickly enough to identify them before we published. This would cause numerous corrections and versions. Embarrassing at least, but also a quick way to minimize credibility.

Host allowed us to literally dump all of the data during close, real time into a true analytical and reporting tool. This made spotting the issues, managing the allocations and generally getting a handle on pre-published performance days ahead of when we would have otherwise known. It actually completely masked the fact that we were running a legacy back office. Our reporting looked modern, our close was timely and our analysis was accurate.

A bonus was that Host is a great Budgeting and Forecasting tool. Our legacy system was no more than a repository of budget information. Now we had a true tool, that contained all of our scenarios. Don't get me wrong, the debits and credits are still in the back office but everything else, Host Analytics.

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