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The Ultimate Month-End Close Checklist

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Month-end close is an important financial function for any organization. Finalizing records and reports at the end of each month is essential to ensure the accuracy of financial information and provide timely insights into the financial health of the business. It helps your company make informed decisions, comply with regulatory requirements, and maintain transparency and accountability in financial reporting. 

During month-end close finance teams delve deeply into reconciliations, balance sheets, and other financial statements; often under strict deadlines. But reconciling financial data from various sources, such as bank statements, accounts receivable, and accounts payable, can be time-consuming and complex. And for companies with a high volume of transactions, the strain on resources and systems can be intense. What’s more, for many, reliance on manual data entry and spreadsheets increases the likelihood of errors and inconsistency. 
What can you do to help your finance teams achieve faster close times and make the process easier? This blog provides a detailed month-end close checklist designed to accelerate month-end processes, reduce errors, and improve overall efficiency. It will also explain the role that document management plays in saving time and giving you a fuller picture of your company’s financial status. 

Table of Contents

Comprehensive month-end close checklist

Illustration represents accounting functions including computer, calculator and two balance sheets

Today, companies are working hard to gain a competitive edge in the marketplace. They aim to respond more quickly to market changes, capitalize on opportunities, and outperform competitors. Simplifying month-end close contributes to meeting these goals. 
Take a closer look at the way your company handles this process. Then use this checklist as a basis for refocusing your efforts. 

Prepare for the closing process 

Review the previous month's performance: Analyze profit and loss statements, cash flow      statements and balance sheet accounts from the previous month. 
Update general ledger: Ensure accurate and up-to-date journal entries reflecting the latest financial transactions. 
Verify petty cash transactions: Reconcile petty cash accounts and maintain proper documentation for expenses. 

Record sales and income 

Review accounts receivable: Confirm outstanding invoices and follow up on overdue payments.       
Record sales and revenue: Input sales data and revenue recognition entries accurately into the         accounting system. 
Verify accruals and deferrals: Adjust accruals and deferrals for accurate revenue recognition. 

Reconcile expenses and review accounts payable 

Verify accounts payable: Confirm vendor invoices, reconcile statements and process payments promptly. 
Review expense reports: Ensure proper documentation and reimbursement of employee       expenses. 
Evaluate accruals and prepaid expenses: Adjust accruals and prepaid expenses as per actual             expenditures. 
1 The word Go! with a clock set at nine on a blue background. It symbolizes that its time to start work.

Review assets, liabilities, and inventory 

Verify asset accounts: Reconcile fixed assets, depreciation schedules and intangible assets. 
Assess liabilities: Review loans, leases, and other liabilities for accuracy and completeness. 
Manage inventory: Conduct physical inventory counts and reconcile with inventory records. 

Prepare financial statements 

Generate financial reports: Prepare balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements     accurately. 
Review financial ratios: Analyze financial ratios to assess liquidity, solvency, and profitability. 
Validate financial data: Ensure consistency and accuracy of financial data across reports. 

Ensure accuracy and compliance 

Perform account reconciliations: Reconcile bank accounts, credit card statements, and other         accounts regularly. 
Conduct internal audits: Review internal controls, processes, and procedures for compliance. 
Document compliance requirements: Maintain documentation for regulatory compliance and        external audits. 

Implement standardized processes 

Develop standard operating procedures (SOPs): Document month-end close processes, roles, and   responsibilities to ensure clarity. 
Provide training: Train accounting teams on SOPs, software and best practices for efficient closing. 
Establish deadlines: Set clear deadlines for each step of the closing process to foster accountability and timeliness. 

Common mistakes and how to avoid themClamped green paper clips with multi-colored paper clips forming an arrow

Identify and address these gaps to catch errors before they happen:

Lack of automation 

Invest in automation tools: Identify areas that will benefit most from automation, such as data entry,   reconciliation, and reporting, to enhance efficiency. 
Leverage low-code and prebuilt solutions: Evaluate the low-code and prebuilt solutions that are       available and determine how you apply them to the month-end process. This type of software usually  requires minimal technical support. 
Implement a document management system (DMS): Augment the capabilities of your accounting   software or ERP with a DMS. The solution organizes, securely stores, classifies, and enables quick retrieval of financial documents. 

Delayed access to financial information 

Set clear deadlines: Establish firm deadlines for data submission, review and approval to avoid delays. 
Digitize approval workflows: Implement automated approval workflows to expedite the review         process and improve efficiency.
Improve resource allocation: Evaluate workload and allocate resources effectively during peak           periods to prevent burnout and human error. 
Cross-train team members: Cross-train team members to handle multiple responsibilities and           mitigate the impact of increased workloads and employee absences. 

Duplicate data entry 

Use integrated systems that share data: Integrate systems to share data, minimize manual data entry and reduce the risk of duplication of effort. 
Implement data validation checks: Set up validation rules to flag duplicate entries and ensure data  accuracy. 
Develop standardized procedures: Standardize processes for data entry, reconciliation and reporting to promote consistency. 
Provide training: Educate team members on standardized procedures and best practices to avoid    confusion and errors. 

Best practices for a smoother month-end close A gold dollar symbol is circled by an arrow on a blue background that illustrates cash flow 

By standardizing procedures, eliminating unnecessary steps, automating repetitive tasks, and leveraging technology, your company can accelerate cycle times and reduce the overall duration of the effort. Consider these additional best practices. 

Encourage continuous improvement  

Continue to refine your processes to establish innovation as standard practice. By soliciting feedback, analyzing performance metrics, and benchmarking against industry standards, companies can identify opportunities for improvements over time. By fostering a culture of continuous improvement, your company can drive sustainable business success. 

Develop a detailed month-end close schedule 

Be detailed in your planning with milestones, responsibilities, and deadlines. Ensure adequate resources, including staffing, software tools, and support, are all allocated appropriately. Regularly review past month-end close processes and analyze previous months to identify areas for improvement and lessons learned. Consider factors such as timeline adherence, accuracy of financial reporting, and efficiency of workflows. 

Foster a company-wide culture of accountability 

Let stakeholders across the company know that their cooperation is a significant contribution to an important financial process. This sense of ownership should motivate them to complete their associated tasks more quickly. It’s also helpful to make a conscious effort to develop strong relationships outside of the accounting department. 

How does document management complete the picture? Young business man sitting at a computer looks pleased to have completed a job successfully

Finance departments are responsible for providing crucial financial metrics that demonstrate a company's market standing, profitability, and liquidity. To achieve this, the department must ensure that accounts payable and accounts receivable processes are carried out securely and without errors. 
Often, outdated paper and manual operations mean costs are recorded too late, approvals take too long, information must be pieced together from disconnected sources, and bookings can’t be completed on time.  
DocuWare document management and workflow automation software helps your company eliminate these obstacles by going paperless, centralizing documents and data into one system, and seamlessly integrating directly with your ERP or accounting system for a truly complete overview.  
The solution supports automated workflows for accounting processes, including invoicing, expense management and financial reporting. Supporting documents are easily accessible and linked to corresponding transactions. Robust security measures, such as access controls, encryption and regular security audits, protect sensitive financial data. DocuWare will help optimize your company’s financial operations and achieve better outcomes in the month-end close process 

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