The global pandemic crisis was, in effect, an unrehearsed stress test measuring the resiliency of the department. The crisis highlighted the importance of sustaining confidence in the accuracy and control of accounting processes, not just efficiency. Virtualizing the close means using technology to substantially reduce the amount of manual processing and paper involved needed to complete the accounting close. Finance and accounting organizations that can operate in a virtual mode are better able to adapt to circumstances and overcome obstacles. Having systems that can be readily accessed remotely and having the ability to collaborate and execute processes virtually makes it easier for departments to meet their commitments with confidence.
As the third calendar quarter draws to an end, most companies will be preparing their financial close, which is part of the ongoing accounting cycle. Periodic closing is a core finance function. Since companies found they could substantially shorten their closing intervals with computer-based accounting systems in the 1990s, there has be an ongoing focus to keep shortening the time it takes to close, and for good reason. For companies that must file financial statements with investors, closing the books sooner provides more time to devote to preparing and organizing the statements. And as regulations shorten deadlines for these filings, it puts pressure on the accounting department to finish this phase sooner. In our last benchmark research, a majority of companies wanted to accelerate their close, especially if it takes more than five business days, and nearly one-third (31%) of companies wanted to shorten their close to have more time for analysis and auditing before publishing their financial statements. Since this data is usually the most important component of a periodic review, a faster close lets assessments take place sooner and therefore become more actionable. Indeed, more than half (58%) of participants in our research said the major benefit of accelerating the close is getting financial or management information out sooner.