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With month-end quickly approaching and so many accounting teams suddenly adapting to working remotely, you might be worried about pulling off an efficient and successful month-end close. With the right preparation, your month-end close can go as smoothly as it would with all employees in the office. I’m sharing five important month-end processes and how they might be different remotely, as well as what you and your company can start doing right now to make sure that you are ready when it’s “Go Time”.
When working remotely, it’s even more important to track where the team is with month-end responsibilities. Having a shared month-end checklist will help the entire department be on the same page and know what still needs to be done to finish up the closing process.
We use SharePoint to store our month-end checklist so that real-time updates can be tracked. You can also use Microsoft Teams, O365 Online, or even just a shared file folder on the server.
Communication is key, and here is a friendly reminder to Controllers to reach out to your team once in a while and make sure that everyone has the support they need. We’re all in this together!
Timely deposits are especially important at month-end. One of the easiest ways to deal with receiving payments from customers remotely is to set up the ability to accept electronic payments with your bank. This will limit the number of checks being sent and help avoid any delay of cash getting into your bank account.
If customers insist on sending physical checks, consider using a lockbox. A lockbox is a bank-operated mailing address to which a company directs its customers to send their payments. The bank opens the incoming mail, deposits all received funds in the company's bank account, and scans the payments and any remittance information. If this is not possible, make sure you have a plan in place to collect the checks from the office as well as deposit them.
On the other side of the spectrum from cash deposits, your vendors will be especially interested in receiving timely payments right now. When I set up new vendors for our company, I always ask if electronic payment is an option. We set up most vendors with ACH or wire transfers, which makes the remote payment process a little easier. See the New View Strategies blog post here for more information on getting electronic funds transfer set up in Business Central.
Take this time to contact vendors and inquire about electronic payment options. If vendors require a physical check, make sure to think through the process of how to print checks from home. You will need a printer, the check stock (in a secure location if it is pre-printed), and the correct authorization.
To easily get your payment run approved, I recommend running the Vendor Pre-Payment Journal from the Payment Journal screen (see screenshots below) to send for authorization. This report gives a breakdown of what’s being paid to each vendor and is easily sent to the CFO/CEO for review and approval.
One of the biggest things I’ve learned while working remotely is that it is crucial to get the team to go paperless. Instead of printing out invoices, getting a physical signature, and storing all that paperwork in a filing cabinet, make the transition over to a paperless. This won’t happen overnight, but now is a good time to start to see how this can benefit your team. Take advantage of a situation that may force a reluctant team into paperless. The minimums to accomplish this already exist in NAV/BC, so there is no need for expensive add-ons!
It’s no secret by now that all of us at New View Strategies encourage using Account Schedules to their full functionality.
When it comes to a remote month-end, having your company’s Account Schedules written will allow you and your team to independently pull consistent and accurate information for month-end reporting. The ability to export account schedules to Excel allows you to build a month-end reporting package and send this out to anyone in the company.
To learn more about building custom account schedules, check out Kerry Rosvold Peters’ blog series here.
I hope this post has made you confident that while life may be chaotic right now, you can still have a routine, successful month-end close. Should you need help with any of these setups or transitioning your processes to paperless, please let us know. Here is to wishing everyone health, peace, and plenty of toilet paper!