20 improvements for Finance & Accounting departments
Updated: Sep 4
Here's a quick checklist for all Finance & Accounting Managers, Directors and Department Heads. Buckle up for high ROIs and a lot of Lean Six Sigma process improvement tactics and think of how many have you already implemented.
Equipment & physical environment
1. Get an extra monitor or two. A 24-inch monitor bought for £100 and amortised over typical the 660 working days comes to just around £0.02/h. And that's deductible!
2. Get a physical mailbox for incoming invoices. Do not give Johny another occasion to tell you that non-funny joke. Let him feed the mailbox instead.
3. Make the office comfortable - minimise noise, optimise humidity, use air conditioning and fans. Also, limit distractions by moving takeaway flyers and eating to the kitchen to avoid hunger contagion.
Process improvement & automation
4. Learn your software. In-depth. Even the boring, technical functionalities. If your career path means a life sentence with spreadsheets, befriend with Microsoft Excel. Or with SAP.
5. Use templates and automation in Excel. Because hand-written invoices are passé and Excel VBA macros can generate them in no time.
6. Check processes for dead-ends and error-proof if possible. Your generic Accounts email won't migrate data from spreadsheets to Sage by itself when the email owner is no longer with the company.
7. Eliminate bottlenecks. Minimise downtime. Consider the availability of all process stakeholders and the scope of their contributions.
8. Log employee task if your department is big enough. Obviously, for Business Intelligence and continuous improvement purposes, not to micromanage.
Planning & error-proofing
9. Plan tasks ahead: weekly, monthly and annually. To avoid stress and hectic work, because that one small spreadsheet error may require three days of rework.
10. Have desktop procedures or manuals always ready. Sorry, we don't know how to do that, Sarah is on vacations.
11. Plan continuity of availability – have a backup schedule. Sorry, we cannot take your call. The accounts team has a coffee break.
12. Create calls handling policies or schedules. Because the fifth call about already paid invoice is not worthy of your time.
13. Minimise the impact of ad hoc work with the right prioritising rules. When General Manager or CEO wants it now, you want to be able to help them put out a fire.
14. Plan for succession and continuity. Because employees go on maternity/paternity leave, retire, change jobs and careers.
15. Standardise procedures. A procedure of 6 steps could be done in 720 different ways, but who's got time for that.
16. Go paperless - digitalise, categorise and catalogue documents. Because 1000 pages could weigh 2.5kg on your desk or 25 MB on the cloud. Not to mention the carbon footprint.
17. Communicate adequately, especially on the enterprise-wide level. Specify who, when, where and how, to avoid stampede near the payroll office.
18. Define the scope of work and responsibility. Accounting tasks are not chocolate coins, and no one grabs them voluntarily unless told to.
19. Develop and communicate over hours policy. Let the spreadsheet-thirsty financial analysts work more if they want to, but don't force David to miss his son's birthday on Sunday.
20. Establish and communicate the internet and social media use policy. Settle somewhere between selfies of corporate events only and moving business to Facebook altogether.
Excel & VBA solutions for accounting/ finance
Follow us on LinkedIn to see more articles like this one and to tell us what's your number on the scale from 0 to 20! Check our recent Budgeting & Forecasting case study.
Michael Sena. The founder of Senacea – MS Excel consultancy & training services provider, based in London, operating in the entire UK. If you are looking for MS Excel or VBA consultants to develop new tools or bring efficiency to your spreadsheets, contact us now.