In the accounting world, a month-end closing procedure is more than merely checking off tasks. It is vital to saving you the headache and stress that always accompanies the closing of an entity’s book.
Therefore, if you want to create a precise streamlined process that leaves no accounting stone unturned, I highly suggest your team or controller perfect your closing checklist, so you never miss another deadline.
Organization is key. It is a good idea to group your checklist by one form or another, such as balance sheet accounts, which consists of cash, accounts receivable, prepaid assets, and fixed assets.
The categories you choose to create the layout will be helpful if it is meaningful to you and your team. It is also important to create consistency by assigning each of your team members a set task from the checklist before the final review to ensure there is accountability for each category that needs to be completed and to determine which area of the financials it impacts..
When having team members assigned to the specified tasks, it is easy for time to slip away. It is highly suggested to having a target date no later than the 10th of the following month to have the previous months end close complete and financials ready
With this said, roles and responsibilities will evolve; therefore, it is crucial to frequently review responsibility and time management. Reviewing responsibilities will prevent a rushed assessment at the end of the project that makes you more prone to errors when the deadline is fast approaching.
Additionally, you want to ensure that you do not add too much onto your checklist. You want to make sure that there is thorough information that allows you to perform your tasks with adequate guidance but not so much that the checklist will become tedious and burdensome.
Lastly, you want to leverage technology as best as you can. Adding your checklist to a cloud-based system that your team can easily access, can save time, and create efficiency amongst your team and controller. A checklist is a useful tool that can help you build an organized system that outlines essential deadlines. Mastering a checklist will create efficiency in your company that will save you money and time on general month-end closing, preparing financial statements, and preparing for your next audit or Tax year.
-Keith Argueta, CPA