By Jeremy Myers, CPA
Audit Senior at Atchley & Associates, LLP
Efficiency and time management are two buzz words that most professionals hear every day. How can we become more efficient or how can we manage our time better? After January, most of our clients here are happy to be done with year-end close and are starting on closing January’s activity. Which activity seems more time consuming, closing a month or closing the entire year? Honestly, they should be about the same. What is a year-end close, other than closing all the prior months’ activity out? By the time you make it to closing out the year, you should have already closed out 11 straight months of activity so that final month should not be any different.
Efficiencies are built by performing a task multiple times and increasing your performance by decreasing your mistakes. Once you know your month end close activities, make a list, step-by-step of the process. This part is critical to gaining efficiencies and increasing time management. Once you have made your step-by-step list to close a month, you can start working on automating each step or removing/combining steps as necessary. By performing the same process in the same order, you will gain familiarity with each step and recognize the proper order and details you will need to complete the month-end close. Seems simple, now how many people approach their month-end closing in such an organized style?
Practical Application; how will this really build efficiency and time management? Imagine you are in an office setting where everyone has written procedures for the normal routine task they perform each day. If someone is sick or on vacation, another employee in that department can pull up the procedure and quickly get the task completed. Also, when it comes time to training new staff or cross training existing staff, you already have solid groundwork set up and after a few walkthroughs of the process and an outline, the new staff person will shortly master the procedure and then start to find their own efficiencies. Time management comes after, with staff properly trained and cross trained, you will have more time to take that much needed vacation and not have to worry that you will be coming back to even more work than when you left.