Finance Resolution #5: Achieve a Faster Period Close
By Clinton Jones on January 9, 2017
If you were given the choice of a faster or slower financial period close, it’s very unlikely you would choose a slower one. The reasons for closing faster are endless, but the most common reason is that it allows finance teams to return to normal operations sooner rather than later.
In this final post in our New Year’s resolutions for finance teams, I will talk about how Winshuttle can be used to accelerate the close and help finance teams return to a normal cadence of work effort, and most importantly, develop a better work-life balance by being able to leave the office on time.
In a TechTarget article entitled “five steps to close the books faster,” DataHive consulting principal Hyoun Park talks about how five simple aspects to the close process can either be implemented or improved to accelerate the close. Chris Wilds writes on Opsdog that best-in-class Fortune 500 performers typically close in about five and a half days. Mid-level performers – the average shops – close the books in thirteen days. Set your target goals to five days if you want to be among industry leaders!
While Park is an advocate for a global financial management system, at Winshuttle, we would argue that SAP Financials should be that system. In the end, if you have invested in SAP to run your financials, doesn’t it make sense to use it more effectively and efficiently? Thousands of SAP customers process millions of transactions annually against their SAP systems from templates and personal integrations for SAP using Winshuttle to make SAP the focus of their financial management and reporting. Data related to exchange rate conversions, accruals, and intercompany transactions from feeder systems can be processed on a more regular basis. This means that data entries in SAP are a constant stream of work rather than “big event” closing activities for month, quarter or year end.
Shorten your month-end close cycles and leave the office on time!
By using departmental, divisional and even regional specific integration templates with Winshuttle, finance operations can easily localize and segregate data processing activities at the local GL level without having to do precarious roll-ups and summary postings. When you consider the data processing function like this, company-wide activities and adjustments can be made at the source rather than relying on a collation and aggregation activity all happening at the month end. And you can rely on SAP to do the consolidation.
Like all data processing activities, master data and master records can make or break the transaction entry process. Mistakes made early on in data processing become incrementally more complex to fix and more expensive to remediate. This means that having a sound and consistent approach to finance master records and master data management is key. If you try to improve this process and make it more consistent, you’ll likely reduce the amount of rework for the finance team. Winshuttle can be used not only for transaction processing like manual journal entries but also for master data governance processes, and every step can be managed with a workflow object if required.
To close the books quickly, companies need to get the best data from data contributors. After the data is received and reviewed, the finance team needs to be able to update the financial management system efficiently and effectively in order to progress to the reporting stage. The only way to effectively minimize manual efforts and monotonous copy and pasting is with tight integration between the data sources. Winshuttle can be used to help improve this by creating transaction recordings and binding them to Excel templates. It can also leverage these same transaction recordings and turn them into easily consumable web-services.
With as many as ten or more additional systems of record in the mix, companies can run SAP to invest in the heavy-duty integration with these additional systems, or use lightweight integration by solutions like Winshuttle in order to accelerate the close. Get a head start in 2017 by sticking with one (or all!) of these resolutions for the year ahead.
Don’t miss the previous blog posts in this series:
About the author
Clinton Jones is a Director for Finance Solutions Management at Winshuttle where he has worked since 2009. He is internationally experienced having worked on finance technologies and business process with a particular focus on integrated business solutions in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and North America. Clinton serves as a technical consultant on technology and quality management as it relates to data and process management and governance for finance organizations globally. Prior to Winshuttle he served as a Technical Quality Manager at SAP and with Microsoft in their Global Foundation Services group.
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