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Whether you’re working in an SME or a Multinational Conglomerate Corporation under Matrix structure; it is inevitable that you will undertake month-end tasks. Finance Teams dedicate a considerable amount of time in ensuring that month end tasks are performed in an efficient manner. Finance Managers setup one-to-one meetings with their direct-reports to ensure remedial measures to avoid potential road-blocks & bottlenecks are discussed beforehand.

Given that the World is now a Global Village, whereby a Multinational with Head-Office in UK may have a R&D Office in China. Therefore, adding more challenges, when it comes to communication protocols with counterparts; particularly where some may be based off-site (China).  The use of technology has circumvented the challenges of International Communication (Microsoft Teams, Skype Office Communicator).

In order to manage the expectations of multiple stakeholder groups, Companies are inclined to shift towards Fast-Close routines. Under such reporting routine, the underlying month-end tasks are completed within 2 – 4 days. Accounts are then finalised & relevant management reporting dashboards are distributed to related business Stakeholders (Head Office, Shareholders, Board of directors). Finance professionals working under such reporting regimes may find themselves under immense pressure. Considerably, when there is a new Acquisition or Merger, this is likely to lead to more ambiguity & complexity.

In addition, the implementation of advanced ERP Systems & BI – Business Intelligence Programs is putting more pressure on the part of finance professionals. Not only they need to be more agile in accepting this shift but they also need to learn & perform simultaneously at an unprecedented pace. This demands more agility & resilience on the part of finance professionals, especially when ERP Systems may not work due to down time.

The ongoing global implementation & harmonisation of IFRS process is another area where finance professionals are always having to be agile & adaptable. Management can reduce staff burnout during these transitional periods (Merger, Acquisition & New ERP System) by incorporating CPD -continuous professional development mechanism in place. The training & development of staff should not be undermined, in particular, during these change initiatives.

Finance Directors are often emphasising the importance of ‘Continuous Process Improvements’ to eliminate inefficiencies in the underlying accounting & finance processes.

Currently, many companies are investing in AI (RPA) & automation initiatives to reap its full potential benefits. Whether that be the use of ‘Cloud’ based Accounting Software’s such as Xero or Oracle-Cloud.

The standardisation & automation of repetitive accounting tasks & processes is one way to avoid potential road-blocks during month-end. To counter this situation, finance managers should create month-end checklists for individual team members. They should hold one-to-one meetings with direct-reports to ensure there are aligned to achieve team goals & objectives.

‘Continous process improvement’

In summary, to enable dynamic business decision making of a Fortune-500 or a FTSE 100 Businesses; Companies are shifting towards fast-close ecosystem & the underlying timeframe to complete key month-end deliverables is being shortened. In return, Finance Professionals are having to adapt these new ways-of-working with ‘agility & resilience’.