Effective accounting workflows
The Future of Work

How to Create Effective Workflows In Your Accounting Department

Internal accountants are under a lot of pressure. Companies have high demands for your department, rely on you to handle all financial matters, and expect you to keep the business compliant.

A strong accounting team leads to business success.

Resilient accounting teams should rely on effective workflows that help them:

  • Complete tasks on time
  • Minimize the risk of errors
  • Stay compliant

Your team needs the right tools and processes in place to support them. Are you providing them? Are you focusing on workflows that allow for standardized steps and procedures to be followed?

If not, it’s time to focus heavily on your workflows and make them effective for your accounting team. 

Understanding the Need for Effective Workflows

Your team’s workflows are standard procedures and processes that you integrate into the company to complete tasks accurately and in a timely manner using step-by-step guides for:

  • Data collection
  • Data entry
  • Reconciliation
  • Reviews
  • Reporting
  • So much more

Challenges that accounting teams experience with workflows often fall into multiple categories:

Manual Processes

If you’re still using manual processes for operations that can be automated, you’re putting your team at a disadvantage. Manual processes are time-consuming, prone to errors and omissions, and can lead to inconsistencies. While it’s likely not possible to automate every process, identifying and automating those that can will help you overcome many of the drawbacks associated with manual methods

Bottlenecks

Certain tasks and processes slow down workflows – it’s inevitable. Lack of resources, standardized processes, and training may be to blame. Overcoming these bottlenecks may require an investment in people, processes, and technology, but it’s often worth the expense.

Lack of Standardization

If you don’t have standardized processes in place already, you’ll likely experience:

  • Inconsistencies in how the work is done
  • Difficulty training new team members

Workflow templates are incredibly powerful because they can aid you in creating standards for your team as a whole.

Given the challenges and the critical need for effective workflows, it’s important to answer: What exactly are the key components of effective workflows? By understanding these key components, you can begin to design and implement workflows that will significantly enhance your team’s performance.

What are the Key Components of Effective Workflows?

Teams that follow strict workflows are invaluable assets because they can complete tasks rapidly, error-free, and to the standard the business expects. When it comes to effective workflows, standardization is the first key component.

Even using a month-end close checklist as part of your workflow can help you create standards that your team can follow.

The second key component to effective workflows is automation. As discussed previously, manual tasks lead to an array of potential issues. McKinsey’s research estimates that approximately 50% of work can be automated, leading to:

  • Reduced errors
  • Increased efficiency
  • Enhanced compliance
  • More time for accountants to focus on other high-level tasks

Technology like FloQast can reduce the time to close by 30%, the reconciliation time by 38%, and the time for the audit to process by 23%. Integrating the right technologies into your team’s workflows will free up resources while providing more accurate data and reports.

Last, but certainly not least, the third key to effective workflows is collaboration. Effective workflows enable team members to collaborate with ease. Having standardized processes is important, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. You need insight into who is doing what and where they are in the process.

Ideally, all team members should be able to easily collaborate on tasks through one centralized application. 

Without collaborative features, you may have some team members tracking what they’re doing by pen and paper, other team members might track things on their phones, and others may use various task management applications. 

Now that you have a better understanding of why you need effective workflows and their key components, it’s time to start creating them.

4 Steps to Create Effective Workflows

An estimated 44.2% of accounting professionals are either still using spreadsheets or are in the process of transitioning to workflow software. 

Like many of these professionals in the transitioning stage, you may be wondering where to start.

Every accounting department is unique, but there are four important steps that every team can take to begin creating and implementing effective workflows.

  1. Assessment: The first step is to gauge where you’re at right now. Evaluate your current workflows and start identifying your pain points. For each pain point, consider the best way to solve the problem. Is it merely a change in how the process is done, or can you leverage technology to make things easier?
  2. Design: Once you’ve assessed the situation and understand your pain points, you can create a workflow map to address these issues.
  3. Implementation: Armed with your workflow map, you can begin rolling out your new workflows. This process should be accompanied by appropriate support and training to ensure it’s a success.
  4. Monitoring and Optimization: Once implemented, continually monitoring and adjusting is crucial. Monitoring can take the form of manual check-ins with your team or even technology. For example, Floqast offers reporting dashboards that you can use to help gauge the impact of your workflows.

Following these four steps will help you implement effective workflows that save your team time and help them work more efficiently. From here, you’ll need to ensure that you’re properly maintaining your new workflows.

How to Maintain Your New Workflows

Implementing effective workflows isn’t a set-and-forget-it process. It’s important to regularly review and update them to ensure they’re relevant and still meeting your needs.

How can you gauge whether your workflows are still relevant? 

Gather feedback from your team. Encourage a culture of continuous improvement, and use their feedback to make incremental changes. 

If you continue to review, tweak, and improve your workflows over time, you can ensure that they’re continuing to serve your department and the business’s needs. 

Final Thoughts

Effective workflows can help your team work more efficiently, ensure deadlines are met, and reduce the risk of errors while remaining compliant. The first step is to analyze your current workflow and identify what’s not working for you. 

From here, you can begin developing a new workflow map that addresses these issues and eliminates bottlenecks. Once everything is in place, review your workflows regularly and make adjustments to keep your team on the right track.