In our previous post, Solutions to Periodic Reconciliations, Part 1, we identified some solutions to help streamline the reconciliations process to better equip your accounting team. In this post, we will explore some of the new tools that can be a time saver when reconciliation has the same reconciliation components period over period.
Reconciliations can leverage standardized or customizable formats for matching the type of reconciliation that you are trying to perform. These formats can facilitate the reconciliation process by eliminating additional detail that is not needed. Also, you have the option of leveraging Excel-type functionality within the tool to perform roll-forward or amortization schedules in the native tool. If your reconciliation support requires a detailed spreadsheet, then you have the option of uploading a supporting schedule to the reconciliation.
Many of these tools also allow adjustments generated from the reconciliation process to be compiled into an adjustment file that can then be loaded to the source system(s), thus enabling an accurate and timely adjustment file to the source system(s).
Notification and Workflow
Due to period-close schedule changes or the fact that reconciliations do not always hold top priority, reconciliations are not always completed timely and in some cases, not at all. The systems available today provide tools to ensure availability, status, and next steps are identified and communicated to all participants. You can also integrate with your company’s email to notify users when reconciliations are available for processing or further review is an option. The notification can be done for individual reconciliations, or via a daily email notifying users of all their tasks and status. Alternatively, users have the option of logging into the reconciliation system to see their desktop or task list. The desktop displays tasks, task status, and timelines for completion of the user tasks. Users can see items that are behind schedule showing when their tasks are due. All of these enable the user to know the respective deadlines for their tasks.
Workflow within these tools moves reconciliations, auto-reconciled or manually reconciled, to the next step in the process. Many companies require their reconciliations to be approved by one or multiple managers. Workflow will move a completed reconciliation to the queue of the appropriate reviewer(s). These movements also have the possibility of being captured and communicated via email either as one-off emails or as a daily email listing all reconciliations ready for review. A reviewer can have the option of approving or rejecting and, if rejecting, ask for additional information or give additional direction.
These rejected reconciliations are then routed back to the approver’s queue for completion via workflow. The notification and workflow prove to be considerable time savers, especially in instances where the preparer and approver are in different offices.
Process Management and Real-Time Reporting Tools
Reconciliations are not always at the top of the finance office agenda, and as a result, are not always actively managed. Even for those who do try to maintain insight into the reconciliations status, it is often done via a spreadsheet on the controller’s computer or through shared documents with manual check-in/check out/ completed boxes to be filled in by the reconcilers.
Reconciliation status and prioritization tools are readily available via dashboards and reports in the available applications. Reports are useful for having a permanent record for audit purposes, but dashboards are often preferred and many have drill-down capabilities. Want to know how many reconciliations are past their deadline? Click and you can drill down. Want to know which employee is the bottleneck? Click and you can drill down. The available dashboards and reporting tools make managing reconciliations much easier.
To learn more on how to overcome financial close challenges, you can download our entire guide here or below. Otherwise, stay tuned for blog #8 in the coming week!