The accounting department can be one of the most baffling yet also essential areas of a business. Though no business can survive without it, the science of measuring, processing and analyzing a company’s finances can sometimes feel (somewhat ironically) expensive and time-consuming. So are you stuck with whatever system you have in place? Do you need to hire more people to make the department more efficient? Luckily you won’t have to. Thanks to these 5 tips, you should be able to see immediate results, whether you are an accounting expert or not.
1. Create strict cutoff policies
One of the biggest drains in terms of time and effort wasted for accountants is waiting for the right data to arrive. Unfortunately, you cannot always rely on the professionalism of clients, colleagues and employees. Accounting delays can have drastic negative consequences (as certain companies learned the hard way), and this means someone will have to be the bad guy here and decide exactly when it is too late to submit invoices and expense reports. Create a cutoff day (say, the end of the month) and stick to it! You can re-evaluate how effective your policy is every other month and adjust it accordingly. Just don’t forget to send those memos…
2. Organize a process walk through
Getting a fresh perspective on a system in place is never a bad idea. Whether you are in the accounting department or only have an outsider’s understanding of what they do, share the processes! Forbes recommends cross-department events as a great strategy to improve company-wide communication: running the department’s daily tasks by other members of the company will not only make them more understanding of the amount of work to process (which can help with tardy invoices), but may also potentially yield interesting insights into inefficient methods.
3. Automate as much as you can!
There is no doubt that accounting requires ingenuity and smart decisions. But it is equally true that some processes can be successfully performed by computers. If you are using an accounting software solution, try and push it to make it work for you as much as possible. Mundane but complex tasks such as routing or decision-based form control are now perfectly executed by the best software. The Journal of Accountancy goes as far as recommending automated audits too. We know the temptation to crunch numbers outside the system exists, so if you don’t completely trust your machine, take a day or two to perform tests until you are confident it can work for you (which is what they are here for, after all).
4. Connect Your Applications
Speaking of automation, one of the greatest weapon in the modern accountant’s arsenal is undeniably a good integration solution. And the word can sound scary, but it is now easier than ever to link your accounting and CRM software. At Workato we have seen incredible results with our integration platform. You can get a data sync going between your Salesforce and Quickbooks accounts in minutes! Not to mention, Workato has robust capabilities to handle complex data mapping and any Salesforce customizations.
Companies regularly tell us how integrations save their accounting departments hours of data entry, reduce error, and help them gain better insights into expenses and profits. And the good news is that integration doesn’t have to be expensive either! It is the gift that keeps on giving, not only for the accounting department, but for the company as a whole.
5. Insist on oversight and reviews
Finally, ensure that CFOs, treasurers or finance committees are all involved in the accounting process as regularly as possible. Catching errors early on is always better than late, and getting the right people involved should provide a safety net for the whole company. In fact, Mark Murphy at Forbes recommends employing a similar method during accounting meetings to ensure everyone is involved in the process. The good news is that if you follow the 4 previous points, reviews will be faster and easier to perform as the whole accounting process should become quicker, smoother, and more efficient. Automation and integration will also help reduce errors and keep processes streamlined.
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