Do Your Accounting and Finance Departments Need an Efficiency Boost? Try These 3 Tactics

By Robert Half on July 27, 2015 at 7:29pm

If you and your accounting and finance team members are burning the midnight oil frequently, it might be time to recalibrate your everyday operations to enhance performance.

According to the Benchmarking the Accounting & Finance Function report for 2015, published by Robert Half and Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF), accounting and finance management staff in the United States typically work 47 hours per week. Non-management staff work an average of 42 hours per week.

If your team’s working hours often exceed those industry benchmarks, consider employing these three tactics to help improve operational efficiency.

1. Automate accounting systems, wherever possible

The Benchmarking report found that slightly more than half (54 percent) of U.S. companies manually reconcile accounts. Many are also resistant to adopting cloud computing solutions, which can help to increase efficiency.

Automating accounting and finance tasks and embracing new technologies that enhance collaboration can help your staff to be more productive. It also gives them more time for value-adding activities, such as analysis.

In addition, financial systems can yield rich data that can help you identify risks and opportunities, and ways to increase performance and control costs.

2. Streamline internal controls

The regulatory environment is becoming more complex, and compliance costs are increasing for many organizations.

To achieve greater efficiencies with their compliance efforts, businesses are working to reduce the number of key controls for internal control over financial reporting (ICFR), according to the Benchmarking report. In fact, the majority (79 percent) of U.S. firms surveyed are now using no more than 100 key controls for ICFR.

3. Tackle resource management problems with flexible staffing

The Benchmarking report notes that more firms are implementing flexible staffing arrangements, such as the use of project professionals. This helps them to improve overall team efficiency and allows their core staff to maintain a better work-life balance.

Of course, working late hours is sometimes unavoidable for accounting and finance teams — especially those at fast-growing companies. But when overtime becomes part of the normal work cycle for your staff, you’ll want to consider making some changes, or risk burning out or losing your best people.

What strategies do you use to help your accounting and finance team to work more efficiently? Let us know in the comments section.

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