Closing the Books: Excel is for Numbers, Not People

When working in an accounting department Microsoft Excel becomes a way of life.  Excel offers an extremely powerful tool for departments to maintain workbooks related to closing the books.  Each month you rollforward your prior month’s work until you reach year end, where you are left with a detailed package ready for your auditors.  This system is great when it comes to financial numbers and calculations, but why are we still trying to use Excel to manage our people with the close checklist?

A typical close checklist:

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Why Excel doesn’t work for managing the close:

  • No transparency – The Controller manages the close checklist for the department. Controller, controlling… makes sense but the problem is there is no insight for the rest of the team.  The close process is a ‘domino effect’, things have to be done in a sequential order.  Many items in the close are dependent on other people and this leads to time wasted and status update meetings.
  • Constant status update meetings – This goes hand in hand with transparency, the more transparency your department has in the close process the less you have to meet.  Status update meetings take time, from organizing them to actually going to them.  You drop everything you are doing just to let people know where you stand in the process.  10 people x .5 hours = 5 hours of lost close time.
  • Completeness in question – How do you document your completeness?  Are initials and dates randomly in a spreadsheet as prepared and reviewed good audit evidence of your controls?  Did you get everything done? Let’s go line by line on your couple hundred row checklist and see sign off dates, then follow up with people on their status.  A lot effort is necessary for a little peace of mind.
  • Ineffective onboarding – Onboarding takes time, partly because the way procedures are documented.  Excel provides a list of tasks but nothing related to how actually perform the procedures.  The burden of onboarding is then put on other employees, taking away from their own work.  This leads to overtime whenever a new employee is brought in. This same pitfall occurs when changing jobs within the company or covering for someone when they are on leave or on vacation.

The simple cloud based solution:

As fellow accountants, we’ve been there and seen first hand the inefficiencies in using an Excel checklist to manage your people.  At FloQast we’ve made a simple cloud based software to manage your accounting department, solving all the problems listed above.

Your processes in FloQast:

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To learn more email mike@floqast.com or visit www.floqast.com.

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Journal Entries is a publication all about accounting by FloQast.  FloQast makes software to empower accounting departments to collaborate and manage the financial close process. 

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