Transparency, Clear Communication, and Support: Optimizing the Financial Close for Maximum Efficiency
Mar 07, 2022 | By John Siegel
Despite two-year’s worth of practice at executing the monthly financial close process remotely, many teams still struggle with a wide variety of issues that come with such a highly-collaborative process.
On top of the sheer volume of work and the number of person-hours it takes to close the books — over a week for about half of companies, according to a study conducted by Ventana Research — there are added layers of stress and complexity for accounting leaders who need more visibility.
For Scott Quesnel, Senior VP of Finance and Corporate Controller, Wrench Group, a home maintenance and repair company providing HVAC, plumbing, water, and electrical services to over 700,000 customers, visibility was a significant concern during the monthly financial close process.
“I didn’t have visibility into anything,” said Quesnel. “When our private equity firm changed, we were going through working capital statements and settlement processes. If I wanted to know what was in prepaid, for example, I’d have to reach out to the local controllers or CFOs for that information. It was manual and consumed too much time.”
That’s precisely the problem with an old-school close approach; every piece of information is in the hands and under the purview of a different person. This can make the close take way longer than necessary and lead to obsessive levels of double-checking things already done.
After integrating FloQast with the company’s ERP, Sage Intacct, Scott found that FloQast Close offered the visibility he needed to both improve the monthly financial close process over time and deliver results to leadership faster than before.
“With FloQast’s central visibility, I’m able to self-serve. It’s been a huge labor-saving [tool], and the accuracy and timeliness are built-in. I can now view information across all of our portfolio companies in one location, not scattered across multiple local hard drives,” said Quesnel.
But, of course, a great close is about more than just organization and communication. Every company’s process is a little different, and controllers need insights into the process itself to optimize and improve month-over-month. Using FloQast Analyze controllers and CFOs can manage the close better by pinpointing gaps and bottlenecks that could slow down the process, functioning more as a strategist than a tactician. It also gives them a clear view of how the close is progressing and allows them to track improvements over time, from one close to the next.
“I travel quite a bit to our different locations — domestic and internationally — and being able to manage the team — especially if I have to travel during the month-end close process — was very intensely difficult,” said ProctorU CFO Jamie Illing. “As a CFO, I don’t see most of the work until the very end of the close, so having FloQast Analyze allows me to see where we’re at and how I can help.”
While today’s accounting and finance leaders are taking on bigger challenges than ever — often with limited resources, remotely — a better understanding of recurring processes like the monthly close is crucial to improve efficiency so they can focus on the big strategic picture. With a centralized close and more visibility along the way, the end of the month is looking brighter than ever.