As inevitable as leaves amassing on your front lawn and Black Friday mob scenes, the holiday season brings with it a unique brand of trepidation for organizations preparing to close the books on yet another fiscal year. Financial teams get a bit grayer, managers more frazzled as the annual manic rush to get everything done makes Todd from accounting want to hide in the parking structure and wait for Spring to arrive.
Alas, our beleaguered friends, Embark empathizes with your predicament and has a few morsels of advice to offer you. Believe it or not, end of the year financial reporting doesn’t have to feel like a herd of raging bison stampeding through your office. In fact, by recognizing the most common pain points in the process -- along with a few best practices along the way -- Embark hopes your EOY reporting is smooth as silk and a sound footing for hope and an even better coming fiscal year.
Data issues come attached to a variety of foreboding adjectives -- inaccurate, incomplete, insufficient, poor, downright bad. No matter your preferred descriptive device, data woes are a perennial killer of even the best EOY reporting efforts. Sound, reliable, and timely data is the foundation of accurate financial reports. Like a high-rise built on an unstable foundation, however, it’s just a matter of time until underlying data issues make financial reports teeter and sway in the breeze.
To prevent such calamities, many organizations are making a renewed and concerted effort to establish and maintain data integrity, transforming their financial data into an absolute strength rather than an ongoing hindrance. To follow suit, analyze your data throughput and look for bottlenecks, information and communication gaps, or any other possible source of inadequacy. Rather than using segmented systems and locations, centralize your financial data into a single place to provide convenience and efficiency to your reporting procedures, ensuring the data is simple and straightforward to use within your reports.
Remember Todd from accounting? He wouldn’t feel the need to hide in the parking structure if the accounting team was fully staffed and sufficiently prepared to tackle the EOY financial reports. Furthermore, if the company had filled the perpetually vacant Director of Financial Reporting role well in advance of the EOY reporting, the accounting team might not display such a furrowed brow throughout the year-end.
Suffice it to say, understaffed or underqualified financial departments play a significant role in creating struggles and challenges for EOY reporting. Make sure your team has enough hands on deck to do the job correctly and on time. Remember, a wide range of stakeholders depend on your EOY reports, so cutting labor cost corners could very well cause unnecessary damage to everyone involved.
Organizations in the modern marketplace can have footprints that extend over multiple cities, states, and even continents. Naturally, vast distances between individuals and departments that depend on one another for consistent and accurate data don’t exactly lend themselves to impeccable communication and stellar EOY financial reports.
However, as alluded to while discussing data issues, technology can be an extremely beneficial tool in mitigating the adverse effect of distance on reporting. A single source of data can spread across the entire globe with cloud-computing solutions, providing everyone involved convenient and constant access to data integral to the reporting process. Once again, look at your current systems to see if they are doing more harm than good. If so, researching and implementing new systems that better accommodate your specific needs would be an investment into sound financial reporting for years to come.
Excel is a blessing and a curse when it comes to EOY financial reporting. Its ubiquity and convenience make it a valuable component to every accounting department but, when it’s time to roll forward schedules in Excel, the process is rife with inefficiencies that tap already limited time and resources while also exposing susceptibilities to human error. Make certain you have the proper systems in place to infuse as much efficiency as possible into your EOY reporting. Of course, Excel has its time and place but, particularly in light of the many effective financial technology platforms on the market, do your reporting a favor and find out if better solutions are available.
At the risk of sounding repetitive, EOY financial reporting depends on sound data and effective controls for accuracy and thoroughness. When controls break and that delicate internal system of checks and balances fails, the results can wreak havoc on your EOY reports and the many stakeholders that depend on them.
We don’t mean to pick on poor Todd again, but he obviously has a lot on his plate. Otherwise, you wouldn’t find him intermittently hiding in that parking structure at the first mention of EOY reports. Given his track record, though, is it really a good idea to take his work on the reports at face value? Probably not. However, when controls break and remain unrepaired, that’s essentially what you’re doing. Continually check on the health of your internal controls to ensure the work and data that flows into your reporting is reliable.
Embark Can Help
Aside from each being detrimental to EOY financial reporting, did you recognize the common thread between each of the struggles and challenges discussed? That’s right, Embark can help with all of them.
Whether it’s finance transformation solutions to streamline and automate key processes and data throughput, assessing your control environment, or even providing critical continuity for gaps in financial leadership, Embark is your best friend when you have the EOY reporting blues. So on that note, take a deep dive into your enterprise, identify what needs to improve to bring Todd out of hiding, and don’t hesitate to contact Embark whenever needed. Your stakeholders will thank you.