Month-end: Signs you need a new solution to successfully adapt to remote working

Blog - 22 Jan 2020

It’s your first month-end working remotely. It’s likely your team has never encountered this type of challenge before. Due to Covid-19, many businesses are forced to take a hard look at their current processes and how they need to be adapted for remote working.

At the best of times, month-end is stressful, but here are five signs that your processes need repair and closing the books will be a difficult task during the pandemic and beyond. If you do identify with the following issues, don’t panic, there is another solution that we will evaluate.

Overtime and bigger budgets

Now, more than ever, employees’ health needs to be at the forefront of managements’ plans. It may come as a surprise but during the lockdown, employees are already working two to three hours overtime, according to NordVPN. If your team is bracing themselves for an extra-long week, it’s an indication you need a new solution.

Research from The Work Colleague of the Future indicates employees could be at serious risk by working longer hours. The study found staff who work 10 hours or more, increase their risk of a multitude of cardiovascular problems, such as heart attacks and angina, by a whopping 60%. Additionally, a FloQast study revealed that employees missed out on holidays, medical appointments, and important life events because of the month-end.

Month-End

Furthermore, if you were reliant on hiring temporary staff to help with workloads during month-end, this option may not be available to you anymore due to cost-cutting measures. This means your current team needs to pick up the extra work. It’s a clear sign that your processes aren’t going to adapt well to remote working and you need to look at a new solution.

Human Error

Manual processes are dependent on a human eye to ensure the accuracy of month-end’s close. It comes as no surprise that human error becomes a very real problem for accounting teams. In fact, an MHR Analytics Twitter poll revealed 73% of people relayed they weren’t confident about their Month-end data and numbers, as well as their audit submissions.

Moreover, if mistakes do occur, it’s your job to rectify it. In the office, this was already a time-consuming task, but it has been made even more complicated with everyone working from home. Paper invoices can often be misplaced and or go missing. Now you have to try and track them down, which becomes a monumental task given that everyone is spread out. This eats into a huge amount of time and resources that are so precious at month-end. If you are encountering these problems, heed the warning signs. We’ve written about more consequences of human error, read them here.

A Paper Problem

If the pile of paper has grown with every month-end, it’s a sign you will struggle to adapt to remote working. Not only are you trying to complete your tasks without office space or filing cabinets, the paper invoices that arrive during this period, won’t be able to be processed as offices have been ordered to close.  Furthermore, viruses can live up to five days on paper, according to Science Alert, so protecting your staff and yourself, needs to become a priority.

Additionally, a manual month-end process can be very wasteful. Many companies are looking at ways to go green and promote sustainability. To learn more about the environmental benefits of electronic invoicing, click here.

Less success, more stress

If your process was causing a lot of stress in the office during month-end, you could face increased stress whilst trying to close the books this month. Deadlines and turn around is so tight. In the office, your staff are busy trying to chase other departments, following up on queries and requesting information. Working from home adds to the complexity; if issues arise you can’t just pop down to the department.

Additionally, with Covid-19, most departments are flat out trying to assess priorities and how they will weather the storm until some normality returns. Your staff will have to jump through additional hoops leading to a lot more pressure and stress.

Month-End Stress

A recent study shows that stress is a common complaint when it comes to month-end close. 60% of employees reported increased stress levels during the period. This type of pressure is completely counterproductive, according to research conducted by INRS. Scientists concluded that the stress of meeting targets or deadlines harmed learning and memory. It’s a serious hint that your process is need of repair and a new solution should be implemented whilst you are working remotely.

Meager Morale

Keeping the previous point in mind, if your staff continues to do repetitive processes, under intense conditions and for longer hours, it’s naïve not to think that morale won’t be impacted. If you note morale is spiraling, you may want to take note. A FloQast study showed that one in four accounting and financial teams lost staff because of the pressure that comes with month-end close.

A Simple Solution for Month-end

Manual entry has been disappearing from every aspect of our lives. It’s no secret as to why the mundane tasks are being replaced by technology. It’s faster, more accurate, and frees up our time. The process for month-end close isn’t any different. Now, more than ever, companies are turning to technology to help them stay productive as they adapt to the new norm of remote working prompted by this current pandemic.

Using automation means that staff will be able to do their job where ever they are located. Automation can do repetitive jobs, freeing up employees to analyze the reports they have for month-end and identify where a query is and who is causing a bottleneck. Through their reporting, they can identify areas where savings can be made. This, in turn, boosts morale as they’re having a direct, positive impact on the company.

Additionally, automation keeps costs low as the need for temporary staff should be dramatically reduced, if not completely eliminated.  It also covers you when hire freezes are in place, and doesn’t put additional pressure onto your already strained resources within your team. Want to know more about how your team will become strategic planners using automation? Read this.

Month-End Benefits

Employees can grow confident that their month-end data and reporting are accurate through automation. Employees don’t have the extra stress of trying to chase departments during such a busy time, automation gives them the information on one platform. This leads to a less stressed out and worried atmosphere with manageable workloads. In an already challenging situation, you need to utilize tools that will make working from home a much easier transition.

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Posted by

Sorcha McManigan

Procure-to-Pay Insights