Get off the reporting treadmill to focus on higher value adding activities
Deliver one version of the truth, faster!
Deliver critical management information, faster!
The Finance team of this large Tea distributor were hamstrung with legacy systems and inflexible processes that required 14 days to close the books and prepare the monthly reporting pack. The management meeting was held on the Monday of the third week of the month which was the first-time management could see the numbers.
This led to growing frustrations from the CEO who faced questions from the shareholders before he had access to any numbers. He needed the month end close to speed up and requested a flash report on day one and for the management meeting to be moved to the Monday of the second week of the month.
This would leave the Finance team with 5 working days to do the month end and prepare the management reports.
We began with a kick-off event explaining what success looked like, who will be involved and what needed to happen over the following 3 months to meet the deadline. We selected 3 team members that would become part of the permanent close improvement team who would take responsibility for driving the change.
Facilitating a 1-day re-engineering workshop to eliminate non-value adding tasks and identifying tasks that can be done before the month-end, then sequencing the tasks to improve the flow. We agreed on closing the subledgers on the last day of the month, moved payment runs to avoid the month-end period and set materiality levels for adjustments and reallocations.
Created a central repository containing the sequenced task list acting as a command centre from where the client can manage and control the month end close. Utilising a real-time dashboard providing visibility into completed and outstanding items by task, location and due date providing insight to the close improvement team.
Over the following two months we held an improvement day where we focus on journals, starting from the back working our way forward to identify why these journals are left until last and what is holding them up? We then used this information to work with the close improvement team to identify improvements for the following month.
We arranged and attended monthly pre-and-post close meetings to align the team on the objectives for the coming close and identified any issues that arose during the previous close and then worked closely with the team find solutions to overcome the obstacles.
To speed up the monthly reporting pack we used Power BI with a Zebra plugin to automate the production of the report, allowing the team more time to analyse the results and provide answers to variances.
After 3 months the month end cycle time improved from 8 working days to 3, leaving 2 days to prepare the reporting pack, meeting the 5-day deadline.
The Finance team provided the CEO with a flash report on day 1, achieving a 99% accuracy at Ebit level.
This provided the finance team more than 600 additional man days per year (10 people working on close) to focus on business partnering and projects.
The improvement raised Finance’s profile within the business and lifted staff morale at the same time as they were now working on more rewarding tasks.
The central repository provides the CFO with full transparency over the close and will continue to give the continuous improvement team detailed visibility highlighting areas for future improvements.
Automated dashboard extracting information to prepare the monthly reporting pack with drill down functionality to do analysis.