Finance News & Insights

The 5 biggest mistakes made in Accounting and Finance today

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You can’t blame these on the computer! The mistakes on this list are strictly human error. 

And if any of those humans are on your Finance team, you could end up with anything from a headache to a penalty from IRS.

The folks at Bloomberg BNA recently compiled the most common errors plaguing finance and accounting teams of all sizes today.

Of course mistakes will happen, and nobody’s perfect. But by knowing where they’re most likely to occur, you can minimize the chance you’ll fall victim to them.

Take a look at where things are going wrong for your peers now.

Error 5: Working on a nonsecure public Wi-Fi network

So a staffer cracks opens a laptop in Starbucks or in an airport on the way to a professional conference. If he or she accesses sensitive company information on a public network, your company is exposed.

There are a few ways to minimize this risk:

Make it a company-wide policy that employees cannot connect over public Wi-Fi on company business.

Allow employees access to a virtual private network (VPN) for safer working.

Error 4: Overriding data in an enterprise system with figures calculated outside the program

There’s a reason programs make it a challenge to override – because doing so opens the doors to a whole host of possible mistakes. Whether the data was calculated incorrectly or miskeyed on the override, your staffers could accidentally put inaccurate info into a system used by many departments. And that can wreak widespread havoc.

An override should be a very rare exception and not the rule. If you’re particularly concerned about these types of errors, you might even require a manager’s approval before an override can be done.

Error 3: Accidentally deleting a custom Excel formula used to calculate corporate tax data

With the amount of time your finance team spends in Excel, it’s no wonder errors here made the list. When you lose a formula, all your data can be thrown off. And if it’s tax data, your company is at risk for everything from an audit to penalties.

To keep your formulas on target, get help straight from the horse’s mouth. Microsoft has a list of 15 best practices to prevent formula problems. You can find it here:

Error 2: Saving a file with financial or tax data to a personal device

Yes, this can happen for nefarious reasons, like when a disgruntled employee is planning to make an untimely exit.

But there are plenty of more innocent instances that still do damage. You want to make it clear that saving company data to a personal device is definitely out-of-bounds.

But be thorough: Many staffers may only think this applies to things like USBs. Be sure you specify it includes saving info to the cloud and even connecting via an unsecured network (see Error 5).

Error 1: Manually inputting incorrect data into an enterprise system

You probably aren’t too surprised by the No. 1 entry on the list. With the amount of data entry done in any given day in Finance, a slip of the keyboard is bound to take place.

Staffers might hit the wrong key or transpose a number. And when they do, your data’s no longer reliable.

Your best bet is to create a quiet and distraction-free zone when staffers are inputting data. You might also discourage them from multi-tasking, considering recent studies which shows it undermines productivity and accuracy.

And when it really counts – whether it’s month-end or W-2 time – have staffers cross-check each other’s work so miskeys never make it outside Finance’s four walls.

Info: For an infographic outlining the top 5 errors, click



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