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Automated Monthly Closing for the SMB

The goal of the CFIT SMB Committee is to introduce FEI members to solution partners who are appropriate for companies in SMB category. On October 9th, Ms. Nancy Wu of SkyStem presented its automated month-end close solution, ART, for small and medium-sized accounting departments.

I invited Nancy to present this solution at CFIT as I am a customer of SkyStem. My team and auditors really like this solution and it seems perfect to share with FEI members. I met Nancy at the Connect CFO Conference a few years back. At the time, month-end close software was not on my radar as I had put together a home-grown solution using Adobe and box.com. I essentially recreated a digital version of the “auditor box” with digital files instead of paper account recs, Adobe signatures instead of using a pen, and organized them in online folders for our auditors instead of a physical box. The phrase “you don’t know what you don’t know” certainly applied in my case. I was amazed at how much better this solution was and I was excited to show my team.

I viewed a demo of ART like the one Nancy gave for other CFIT SMB Committee members. It is cloud-based and is backed by best-in-class data security practices. The real-time dashboards show the status of each account reconciliation and close activity which helps us manage and identity tasks that should be done each month.  My team likes the workflows to stay informed on what needs to be done. Here is a sample dashboard screen for each person in your accounting team:

As an approver, I can double-click a wedge in the pie chart, which brings up a list of accounts to quickly approve (or reject) the respective account reconciliations. If I need more information, I can send a note back to the preparer of the reconciliation requesting what I need to approve the work.

Certain accounts can be automatically reconciled each month. For example, if the GL balance does not change, the support carries forward to the next period and is auto reconciled. You can also schedule certain accounts to be reconciled quarterly or annually.

ART works as our database for all account reconciliations. We can upload all the support for each account and click to open the files online. We export the monthly trial balance from our Visibility ERP system and upload it into ART to populate the balances. An automated feed option is also available, but my team does not require it.

We save a lot time during close and audit. We now close much faster than with our old method. We have half year reviews by our audit firm and the accessibility by accounting period and audit trail have made the audits so much smoother.

Here is two minute video describing ART.

Automating monthly account reconciliations, task lists, flux analysis, reporting and certifications were all demonstrated by Nancy and she answered our questions. The FEI CFIT SMB Committee agreed that this solution should be introduced to the members of FEI to see if it could add value to their month-end close process.

You can contact Ms. Nancy Wu. for more information at nwu@skystem.com. As I also use this solution. You can reach me on FEI Connect or by e-mail at dsackett@us.ulvac.com for any questions to me as a SkyStem user. It is decision I would make again if given the choice.