Teaming software structures allow multiple users to collaborate on the same task or reconciliation, which is especially helpful for the current environment. In the right solution, users can also attach documentation and access what was done in prior periods so that a new person or even a temporary worker has the information accessible and consolidated in one place for continuity, even if a key person is not able to work.
Communications can take place within teaming software solutions so one source of the truth is more easily preserved. A solution should allow files to be transferred securely, employees don’t need to go to multiple places to get data. With key elements and KPIs defined and measured, you have a way to determine whether you are on-track or off-track.
With more clarity into how you can team under the circumstances, you need a critical path focused on addressing your most high-risk items, since you are confronting strained resources and potential technology challenges. Understand your risks and prioritize them accordingly so the team’s focus does not become frayed or focused on low-impact concerns.
- Scrutinizing how the team’s overall activities relate to broader milestones in the close. Those activities can center on closing subledgers and the general ledger, for example. Consider all the dependencies like entity-level processes that are dependent on local steps.
- Assessing the risks associated with close activities like reconciliations, journal entries and other tasks like controls. Learn what you can from internal and external auditors and how your controls are structured to identify high-risk items as priorities.
- Evaluating and enforcing materiality thresholds to reduce activities.
- Appointing someone to monitor the close checklist as a secondary control to make sure steps are not missed.
- Reviewing the virtual close plan with auditors to solicit input and suggestions. Determine whether anything extra can be done to support the audit process.
Efficiency in remote teaming
You should choose a solution that allows you to create business rules to drive efficiency, and it can help you operationalize your high-risk priority accounts with due dates and frequency information.
For example, a functionality that should be a priority would allow you to set review frequencies and levels based on business-defined criteria. Maybe some of your accounts have less volatility than others and do not need to be reviewed every month, or maybe you have zero-balance accounts that can be auto-certified.
A task management solution can be used to document, support and sign off on any task or activity. For example, many companies manage processes and procedures in Word documents and use spreadsheets and binders to sign off on individual tasks.
The best task management software can easily set up ad hoc or recurring tasks for tracking and certification. Users can typically stand up the module in hours or days.
Enduring — and thriving
Understandably, your goal is to close the books, and long-term considerations will be on the horizon. But some of these efforts will show you a way forward into becoming a more optimized function so that when COVID-19 becomes a bad memory, you are working better than ever, under better circumstances.