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How Productive Accounting Departments Get That Way

By MarksNelson on January 4, 2018 in Articles, Entrepreneurial Services, Jennifer Katrulya
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If you’re still dealing with December 2017 invoices and bills now that it’s January 2018, maybe it’s time for another New Year’s resolution: improved productivity in your company’s accounting department.

You know that bookkeeping is a very time-sensitive discipline. But maybe you think that your people are working as fast as they can and that all businesses run a little late. They don’t, and you don’t have to either. Here are some practices that the most efficient accounting departments have adopted – and that you can, too.

They set firm deadlines. Even if you don’t officially close your books at the end of the month, you should establish fixed cutoff dates and times. For example, any invoices and bill payments not send by 3 p.m. go out the next day. Accounts get reconciled x days after statements arrive (or more frequently if you’re working online). Monthly reports are due by the “xth” day of the month.

They have two monitors on each desk. Flipping back and forth among open tabs wastes time and can contribute to errors. Your staff should be able to look at instructional emails or memos and spreadsheets or accounting software screens simultaneously.

They ask questions. Of you, and of others. There’s no guesswork in accounting, and there are no stupid questions.

They document procedures. This is so important, yet many accounting departments find themselves in a panic when someone is out sick or quits suddenly. If you’re using QuickBooks, make sure there’s a user guide available. But have each staff member create step-by-step instructions for each task they perform. Have both saved and paper copies of these, and ask employees to update them regularly.

They cross-train. The need for task documentation is not as great—though still necessary—if multiple employees are trained to do the same work. If you can possibly spare the time, sit in on at least some of these trainer-to-trainee sessions to spot-check your staff’s workflow and accuracy. Cross-training can also help you detect and possibly prevent any internal fraud that may be occurring.

They set agendas for meetings and adhere to them. Much of accounting work is solitary, but you probably have occasion to pull people away from their workday and have a department meeting. Send out an agenda ahead of time to maximize input and avoid time-wasting questions and comments. Start and end the meeting when you say you will and minimize extraneous issues, tabling them for another group meeting or a get-together with an individual.

They use automation as much as possible. The most productive accounting departments have one major trait in common: They automate. Not just by using Office applications, CRM solutions, etc., but by using financial applications like QuickBooks, Bill.com, Expensify, or a variety of other applications that automate one element of bookkeeping. Automation saves time and money, and reduces errors, by, for example:

  • Minimizing duplicate data entry.
  • Storing databases of customers and vendors, items and services that can be used in transactions.
  • Letting you email forms and accept payments online.
  • Supplying templates for reports.
  • Recognizing errors.

We can help your company’s accounting department become more productive in two of the areas covered here: training and automation. We’ve done so with countless other businesses, and would be happy to take on your challenges. Connect with us to find out how. Contact your MarksNelson professional at 816-743-7700.

Bio

Jennifer Katrulya

Practice Leader