6 Steps to Streamline Month-End and find the “Holy Grail”

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Streamlining month-end is the Holy Grail!” I heard a management accountant, let's call her Emma, say at a networking lunch I attended as part of the CPA Newcastle Convention. Emma works for a $100M+ company and month-end currently takes 5 days and is really tough. Month-end has to be completed in that time so she can send the results to HQ.

5 days seems reasonable but Emma's problems are:

  1. 3 people work 12 hour days to meet the deadline. That's a total of more than 60 hours overtime.
  2. There is intensive manual work in Excel, copy paste, manual formula etc.
  3. There is no commentary.
  4. The results are not analyzed.
  5. The numbers are often wrong!

Interestingly, Bailey”, who worked for a $500M company, could close month-end in 1 day with no overtime. That left 4 days to analyze - wow! How does he do it?

Streamline in 6 Steps!

  1. A flash report is run before the end of the month.
  2. Automated reporting with Excel - no copy and paste but retaining Excel's flexibility.
  3. Not laser guided, don't wait for invoices or purchase orders – don't sweat the small (immaterial) stuff and fix it next month.
  4. All executives are aligned with the process - they know and understand their responsibilities.
  5. Monthly rolling forecasts are in place.
  6. Accountability is with managers, not finance.

This wasn't easy to achieve. It took time but the results are excellent. Apparently, it was a management accountant who had the idea and suggested it (think Dale Carnegie). I think she's CFO at another company now.

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