Successful month-end financial closes should not be just a sigh of relief but a celebration that rewards the sharing of best practices.
Financial close systems, processes, people and their interconnectivity can be complex, but successful improvements to the process can be achieved by introducing some simple building blocks that are inexpensive to implement.
It is natural to assume that the intended audience of your financial close communication plan includes only the financial types: accountants, bookkeepers, treasurers, business unit heads, financial analysts, CFOs, controllers and others closely associated with the close process.
Include all participants in the month-end financial close process.
It should include a discussion that helps the organization learn from its financial close practices.
All communication, methods of delivery and feedback mechanisms may be in place but will be ineffective without the knowledge and experience of the workers executing the financial close. To overcome this limitation, successful organizations reap the knowledge of their investment in employees through various forms of documentation.
When practiced and integrated into the financial close processes, a strong internal control environment will improve month-end accuracy and remove barriers to timely completion.
Require each financial close participant to create and maintain SOPs.
Require each financial close area to create a business-continuity or disaster-contingency plan to address scenarios involving an involuntary "out of office" or "system unavailable" for an extended period of time overlapping a month-end close process.
Provide escalation procedures to all month-end financial close participants for help in troubleshooting and resolving financial-related issues.