Soon enough your department will be in the throes of another year-end close. But before the chaos commences, make sure you’ve done these four things.
It may just keep that chaos to a minimum.
A few steps taken now will limit the confusion and hopefully increase compliance with year-end procedures. The only catch? You need to do them well in advance of year-end.
Be sure your Finance staff gets these four bases covered in the next few weeks:
1: Nail down cut-offs for the year. This year New Year’s Eve is on a Friday – that’s the day off most companies will give. That makes Dec. 30th the last day of processing for the year at many companies. As Friday is a popular day for Finance functions, it may also impact when last paychecks of the year go out, last check runs of 2010 for vendors, etc.
2: Communicate those deadlines early and often. E-mail updates and posts on doors in Finance. Don’t give people the chance to use the excuse that they “didn’t know.” Think about going one step further: Specify times for deadlines, such as the final check requests must be to A/P by 2 p.m. on the 28th — makes them more memorable.
3: Break it down. Hopefully, you have a policy that spells out exactly what’s expected of every department when it comes to closing the year. But we’ve scoured many of these policies and found one commonality: They all apply to everyone. That means many non-financial employees are being overwhelmed with a lot of financial information — much of which doesn’t even apply to them! No need to reinvent the wheel. But consider highlighting the specific parts of year-end procedures that apply to each individual group. That way they can only focus on what you need them to do, which increases the odds they’ll actually do it!
4: ID a point person for all year-end questions. It’s a smart idea to appoint a “year-end czar” in Finance. It doesn’t have to be the CFO or even a finance department manager. You simply want someone who’s frequently available to answer questions, clarify policies, etc. Also couldn’t hurt to have each department ID a point person for close questions – one person who can look up a question, locate a file, etc. if Finance has questions.