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4 Smart Ways To Speed Up Your Month-End Close

October 19, 2022 Olivia MacDonald  
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Facilitating a smoother and more efficient month-end close is a top priority for financial planning and analysis (FP&A) teams. 

During the month-end close, your FP&A team collects, collates and evaluates data to produce operational reports. But a faster, high-quality decision-making process can make your company more competitive in this information economy. 

Closing the books faster helps management make decisions faster. So how do you speed up the month-end close? Through a combination of innovation and automation, let’s explore four smart ways to get you started.

💡Key Takeaways:

  • Increasing your month-end close process provides tangible benefits to the company, such as more efficient decision-making and financial analysis. This also reduces the employee hours spent on wasteful processes.
  • To speed up your month-end close, consider graduating from desktop spreadsheets, transferring data currently housed in multiple systems to cloud-based technology and automating any processes where possible. 
  • Businesses seeking to speed up their month-end close face typical challenges, including disconnected data systems, unnecessarily manual processes and adjustment to remote work.

Challenges for Financial Teams

Speeding up your month-end close may seem challenging. The following roadblocks often prevent FP&A teams from making changes.

By implementing innovative technology and automating processes where possible, you can overcome difficulties associated with:

  • Disconnected Systems: Whether you work in a company of dozens or hundreds, data is likely stored across numerous systems, including enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, specialized billing or customer service platforms, multiple Excel sheets and others. This makes it difficult to compile information into one place.
  • Manual Processes: Collecting information from various data stores into one report—your month-end close logs—is tedious. Employees must gather all relevant documents and manually re-enter the data into the new Excel sheet. This is wasteful of employee capabilities and introduces the potential for error.
  • Remote Work: After the COVID-19 pandemic, companies worldwide shifted to what many believed to be a temporary remote work environment. Now years later, it’s clear that telework is here to stay. Although remote work may inhibit collaboration or cross-departmental communications to some degree, new technologies have better connected the home to the office.

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How To Speed Up Month-End Close

Speeding up the month-end close makes your business more competitive in the information economy. A better closing process makes the business more agile and adaptable to financial changes.

To speed up your month-end close, consider the following strategies:

1. Migrate to the Cloud

Finance departments often depend on Excel—and for good reason. The application enables the tracking, analysis and estimation of large quantities of data. 

Relying on a bare-bones version of Excel alone, however, is more useful when a business is small or working with little data. Tracking multiple spreadsheets becomes unwieldy once the business grows.

For example, the requirement of manual data input makes room for human error. Similarly, sharing multiple spreadsheets via email can cause issues with version control. This back-and-forth can contribute to multiple extra days added to your month-end close. 

Instead, consider shifting to a cloud-based solution. This technology automatically takes data from multiple business systems and uploads it into a single data store. The cloud reduces reporting time.

2. Consolidate Disparate Data

Just as businesses have multiple data stores and enterprise programs, many businesses also lack a single source of truth that would collect and house that data.

For example, financial data necessary for the closing process may spread across multiple enterprise resource planning systems within several business units. When it comes to the month-end close, the FP&A team must navigate multiple platforms.

Like using numerous disconnected spreadsheets, this process is tedious and time consuming. It also prevents financial team members from access to quality data until the end of the month.

A more efficient process would entail using an FP&A platform that combines numerous ERP systems. That platform can then retrieve data as needed continually. This software then serves as a single source containing all updated information.

3. Automate Where Possible

Consolidating data frequently occurs through manual processes also used for making reports and reconciling errors. Any meaningful improvements in this process likely require some degree of automation.

To automate effectively, first look at the extended month-end close process.

This may include the subledger close, account reconciliation and submission of regulatory filings. With a picture of the entire close process, your financial team can identify areas for improvement via standardization, simplification and connectivity.

 

Then, implement a detailed close schedule shared among the FP&A team. This can go hand-in-hand with a cloud solution, which may also provide a visible dashboard. These technologies can improve collaboration and predictability.

With a mix of intelligent process automation and machine learning, you can reduce month-end close operations from a few weeks to a few days.

4. Place Financial Technology With the FP&A Team

Implementing a new technological and automation strategy is less effective if it’s inaccessible to your FP&A team. 

A finance department dependent on the information technology (IT) staff is less self-sufficient. This scenario would see FP&A staff calling IT for everything, including:

  • Technological errors
  • Administrative or operational changes
  • System updates or upgrades
  • Bugs or viruses

There would be significant delays if this were to happen during the month-end close process. 

A better strategy includes introducing easy, intuitive and straightforward solutions so your finance team can self-serve. This makes the FP&A team better equipped, faster and self-reliant while alleviating some of the burdens on the IT department.

Speed Up Your Month-End Close With Vena

Technology is a must-have when it comes to speeding up your month-end close. However, that doesn’t mean that you need an entirely new suite of performance programs.

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Faster Month-End Close
With Vena, the only native Excel FP&A software, you get a built-in program that enhances what you already use. Vena provides a range of solutions for FP&A teams, like yours, to enhance the month-end close.
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