How to drive a frictionless financial close

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Financial close periods can be stressful but they don’t have to be. Implementing a frictionless approach to your close process can lead to a 40–50% reduction in cycle times and enhanced, insights-driven decision-making.

There are increased expectations from CFO’s for faster financial and management report delivery – not only to meet regulatory requirements which are becoming more stringent but also to enable quicker responses to business needs.

The goal of the one-day financial close or continuous close is no longer limited to a few organizations – it is increasingly becoming a CFO objective across all industries. This puts greater responsibility on the record-to-analyze (R2A) team to reduce financial close cycle times in addition to enhancing the accuracy of reported figures.

The close process is challenging as stakeholder inputs are required across a variety of departments based on data housed in different systems. Activities also need to be completed within the close period, which requires a great deal of follow up emails and team coordination – often in a highly stressful environment.

Proven ways to improve your close process

With this in mind, how can you ensure that your financial close process is frictionless? These five key points can help you reduce the cycle time of period-end activities, and help you transition to – what we call – the Frictionless Enterprise:

  • A solid close calendar – agree, sign-off on, and strictly follow an entity-level close calendar at the beginning of the year, with only minimum exceptions by stakeholders
  • Enhanced workflow, tracking, and scheduling – track all close tasks with a defined responsibility matrix through leveraging BlackLine or Trintech Cadency technology instead of Excel spreadsheets. These tools can also be used to trigger actions, automate follow up, and provide status updates without having to use email. Building the dependencies between the tasks and allowing automated task cheduling is a great way to speed up the close and free up resources for more analytical activities
  • Rationalize close tasks – move all non-close-based tasks outside the month-end close period as much as possible; process journals before the month-end close period, and complete reconciliations in continuous manner rather than during the close or post the close. Move away from once a month mindset towards continuous accounting activities
  • Leverage automation – move towards touchless journals with workflow driven approvals, leveraging robotic process automation (RPA) and/or BlackLine or Cadency technology to automate close activites such as accurals, reversals, allocations and depreciation runs.
  • Enhanced reporting – standardize and automate financial and management reporting by leveraging tools such as Power BI and Tableau along with natural language generation (NLG) technology.

In addition to this end-to-end transformation that integrates your systems across the organization, a single ERP platform supported by multiple BlackLine or Cadency modules – and a rationalized chart of accounts and entity structure – can help you streamline your end-to-end R2A processes, leading to a truly frictionless financial close.

What frictionless finance can really offer

Implementing a frictionless approach to your close process can reduce your cycle time by 40–50% and lead to improved statement accuracy. This, in turn, can free up your finance teams to concentrate more on business-critical tasks and enable your CFO to focus more on the strategic priorities that really matter to them.

On top of this, removing the friction from your R2A process can help you implement continuous analysis and finance intelligence to enable informed business decision-making. This can lead to a confident, imperceptible period-end close with greater regulatory compliance, improved investor confidence, and enhanced market response.

What’s not to love about frictionless?

To learn how Capgemini’s Frictionless Finance leverages it’s partner technology ecosystem to drive the digital transformation of your finance function and deliver a frictionless close, contact: arush.kumar@capgemini.com

Arush Kumar is responsible for driving digital transformation of finance processes leveraging Capgemini’s Finance Powered by Intelligent Automation offer, which adds value to our clients’ business operations by implementing best-in-class processes and driving financial savings.

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