5 steps to automate your financial close

October 22, 2022 | 3 minute read
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Closing the books to prepare financial statements may not seem like a hotbed of innovation. But it can be, if you think differently. Imagine a touchless close, without human intervention. And imagine doing it in one day. How much more nimble would your business be? How could you use information and extra time to build an advantage over competitors? A fully-automated close is part of the vision for Fusion Apps and for our customers, and we’re making progress. Check out this guidance to help you reduce the time it takes to close your books.

1. Address the extended financial close process

It’s impossible to improve and automate your financial close process without a clear understanding of dependencies and task duration. So we suggest attacking the “extended” financial close, which includes related processes like the subledger close, identification of irregularities and errors, account reconciliation, tax provisioning, and the submission of filings to appropriate regulatory bodies. (More product-specific detail is available here.)

2. Focus on key improvements to streamline and connect

Once you understand and have documented the entire close process, your finance team should focus on the areas that can be simplified, standardized, and connected. Prime targets are repetitive or lengthy tasks, such as those involving intercompany eliminations, account reconciliation, cash flow, foreign exchange, and minority interest. (Here's a video with details on getting started.)

3. Create a shared, detailed close schedule

It’s critical that you create a transparent close process by tracking and sharing. Use dashboards to improve collaboration and provide timelines; they connect stakeholders and can reduce dependence on error-prone spreadsheet trackers. (Learn more about how Task Manager can help.)

4. Use intelligent process automation (IPA) and machine learning to improve the extended close

IPA is the next evolution in robotic process automation (RPA) because it:

  • Layers in artificial intelligence.
  • Observes and analyzes data.
  • Identifies new patterns or recommends new rules.
  • Suggests how existing rules can be reconfigured to be more efficient.
  • And then applies human judgment.

IPA can significantly improve many tasks in accounting and finance such as account reconciliations, financial close process management, and statutory reporting. IPA can also help you automate much of the close orchestration and track the status of task completion across multiple systems, automatically kick off close processes as soon as dependent tasks are complete, and update the close calendar so you always know where you are in the financial close process.

5. Provide timely, self-service reporting

Giving decision makers timely and accurate information should be one of the most important objectives of any financial close initiative. It’s a best practice to deliver flash and automated reporting in a self-service system that provides them with secure, remote, 24/7 access. Decision makers will come to rely on the interactive dashboards and the ability to get information on an ad-hoc basis.

Closing thoughts

Adopting an automated and connected financial close benefits your finance team and your entire organization. You’ll get faster, more accurate, and more transparent reporting. This instills confidence in employees, customers, and investors (among other benefits). And you’ll have more time to focus on strategy, growth opportunities, and initiatives that create competitive differentiation.

Additional resources

If you're an Oracle Partner and want to learn more, visit the Oracle Partner Community.

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Fusion Development

The Fusion Development team is responsible for building, maintaining, and driving innovation on the Oracle Fusion Cloud Applications Suite, which includes Oracle ERP, EPM, SCM, HCM, and CX. Its members are based throughout the world with central offices in the US, India, Mexico, The Philippines, and Romania.

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