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Excel and Filing Cabinets, Are They Ever the Right Answer?

By Michael Johnson

There are two filing cabinets behind the front desk at my optometrist’s office labeled – to be paid and paid. Sometimes, a simple solution such as this can be the right answer for your accounting team. Or, sometimes all you need is Excel.

I see it all the time, where businesses over-think processes and solutions to problems that might be best solved with simplicity. Other times, companies delay projects while searching for perfection or try to solve too many accounting challenges at once.

In this blog post, Ten Steps to Improve your Month-End Close, we discuss the steps a business can take to reduce their month-end close and improve their financial reporting. One of the key steps, Don’t Look for Perfect, is critical as significant change doesn’t happen overnight.

An essential part of the process is to know your business’s vision and desired destination then focus on these key questions:

  1. Is this proposed change “better” than before?
  1. Does this proposed change bring us closer to our end goal?

It’s building on the small incremental steps that will get your company closer to its end goal.

In our case, our vision is to end month-ends for our clients and to ensure they have access to information daily to make better decisions. We help our clients better leverage their ERP software and improve their workflow processes as some example of those important first steps.

In the Harvard Business Review article, Why Good Projects Fail Anyway, the author suggests injecting a series of mini-projects called rapid result initiatives, instead of tackling complex projects. These big projects tend to have a higher rate of failure and typically only deliver returns HALF THE TIME.

The reason?

Although having a big plan reduces “execution” risk, it often leaves out other critical risk areas such as “white space” and “integration”. This is when not all required activities are identified and integrated in advance, leaving gaps in the project plans with the risk that the tasks won’t come together properly at the end.

Considering the author’s viewpoint, Excel and filing cabinets are likely not the final answer for companies moving towards improved accounting practices or reducing their month’s end processes, but nonetheless may be a small step in the right direction.

Remember, significant change doesn’t just happen overnight. It happens by adopting a change management mindset, and taking one step at a time.