5 Best Practices for a Successful Year-End Closing

As we adapted to new norms daily this year, preparation and pre-planning remained essential to a strong closeout and a confident new year. The good news is that there are resources and industry professionals to provide the best practices to ensure an accurate and successful closing season.

Join JMT Consulting and AvidXchange to learn where to begin to examine and implement some of the latest strategic plans to help your teammates seamlessly navigate through year-end close.

In this session, you will:

  • Learn how to plan and prepare in advance by creating and implementing year-end checklists
  • Identify and minimize roadblocks and discrepancies before year-end to ensure accuracy by performing monthly invoice reviews, and monthly vendor reviews
  • Using effective and efficient communication with vendors about missing invoices in quarterly emails
  • Reconcile accounts often ensuring for complete and accurate through accounting system integration
  • Automate operational components with AvidInvoice and AvidPay

Interested in learning more about how JMT can help you navigate through year-end close more effectively with a solution like AvidXchange?

Melissa Waters: Okay, so you're joining us again for the five best practices for a successful year and closing webinar with avidxchange.

It's sponsored by JMT consulting. My name is Melissa and I am the Manager of events and programs here at JMT

We're an independent consulting firm that work solely with nonprofits on their era P back back office solutions. I'm going to go over a couple of housekeeping tips today, and then I will turn it over to our wonderful presenter.

If you have any questions at all during the presentation, please make sure that you utilize your Q AMP a box at the bottom of your control panel.

You can also chat us if you have any technical difficulties can't hear campsie please let us know.

And also we are recording the webinars today and we will send you a copy of the recording as well as the slides. Following the webinar.

Today we have Rhonda Greene joining us. She's a principal solutions consultant from avidxchange. She's our presenter. And with that, I will turn it over to Rhonda. Thank you.

Rhonda Greene: Thank you. And thank you everyone for joining us today.

A little bit about me. I am, as mentioned, the principal solutions consultant at avid exchange, but before this role.

I actually created our payment services division at avid exchange and and was the VP of that area for several years and prior coming to avid exchange. I actually have a long background and accounting

Specifically AP management roles. So I really enjoy sharing best practices and talking to my fellow peers about, you know, creating efficiencies and the best way to navigate through the changing times and NP.

So today we're going to talk about why year and closing as a Borden potential roadblocks. How to ensure a seamless close how AP automation can help. And then we'll finish with Q AMP. A. So let's get started.

So why is your in clothes important. Well, I think we all know that it's very important.

But luckily it only comes once a year, but obviously provide details on the company's financial status and growth, you know, how did they do this year. It also allows teams to proactively forecast and it creates fresh accurate balance sheet accounts that are ready for the new year.

But sometimes we may run into roadblocks blocks and when we're trying to close some of those could be incorrect reconciliations

Inaccurate or irrelevant KPI reporting and. And what about incorrect transaction reporting. I mean, that would be disastrous.

So now we're going to take a quick poll, if you'll take a couple seconds to answer that pole. Do you currently use a year in close checklist.

All right, we're gonna close it up here in just a second. All right.

Oh that's great news. So I'm glad to see that 74% actually use a year enclose checklist, because that is a huge best practice. So if you're not doing that today.

I highly suggest that you create one. There's lots of great resources available to you online that could certainly give you the template to get a start on creating that checklist.

Alright, so how to ensure a seamless year and close

So make planning and preparing collaborative, very important that we get all parties involved, and a lot of times that's including folks outside of finance.

Also, as mentioned, we want to make sure that we're identifying any solutions. And again, making sure that we're taking note of those so that we remember for the next year and also communication is key early and often.

Review and reconcile often

And finally, automate operational components, certainly with automation comes a lot of gain efficiencies. So we'll certainly talk about that too.

So make planning and preparing collaborative

Going back to our poll question here, create an implement a year and closing checklist and why this is so important that year and just fairly obvious. You know, you're doing tasks that you

may only do once a year. And so they may not be readily you know come to mind when you start to work on something.

So if you do know everything that needs to be done, and maybe go ahead and assign those tasks to different individuals that will certainly help achieve a smooth year and close

Also collaborating as a full finance team is important to not to work in silos. And then also, including those other business unit leaders in the discussion.

A lot of times when it comes to close, particularly accounts payable close it's important that we get our Invoice approvals our expense reports get these types of things received in a timely fashion so that we can get them entered in.

To the system before the year closes. So it's very important that

You know folks outside of the finance department understand these deadlines and that they're communicating it out as well to their team.

Also take a proactive approach to avoid running into any roadblocks, and again, particularly for accounts payable, some of the things that

I've done in the past that really, really helped not only a year and but also at month end

And quarter and was performing invoice reviews and this says here, monthly, but that could even be done on a weekly basis. So as an AP manager or maybe an accounting manager.

If it's a good idea to review what's been entered in particularly looking just to make sure things are coded correctly. And again, if you have a high volume. It may not be

You know, a good idea to spend the time to review every single invoice. So maybe look at a certain dollar amount and above and check for things like coding proper approval.

Sales and Use Tax accrues where those done correctly, and this helps you you know obviously with having to do

You know, any corrections to code. And so when auditors do come in, you'll feel a lot better knowing that you've kind of kept your eye on these as you've gone along

And the same goes with monthly vendor reviews. And so this could actually made a couple different things, but

One of the things that I think is very important again to a successful close is making sure that all of your vendors are set up correctly in your system.

That you have w nine for all those vendors that you've done your due diligence 10 matching. For example, the irs.gov website.

Has a great 10 matching program that is free to use. So if you're not doing that today. I encourage you to go check it out.

But basically you can take your w nine enter in that 10 number and make sure that what you have in your hand agrees to what the IRS has so this would obviously greatly decrease be notices that you may receive and again 1099 one of I think probably all of our favorite thing to do.

But it will definitely help with that process as well. There's no scrambling around at the last minute, trying to contact the vendor to get a w nine. It's really a best practice not to pay a vendor, not to move forward.

With that vendor relationship until they supply you with that information. And again, very important that you note any inaccuracies, that you may have come across and identify how to fix them and but most importantly how to avoid them from happening again in the future.

And then communicating early and often. I think it's very important to, you know, send out emails, of course, to all of your staff.

Letting them know about you know what's going on. Deadlines with the holidays, making sure that you know PTO is is scheduled

You know with everyone in mind, making sure that you're covered to get a smooth year in but also I think communication also needs to be sent to vendors. If you're waiting for any invoices. Maybe you've received

Some goods and you haven't been invoiced yet so it doesn't hurt to reach out to that vendor, particularly if it's a larger dollar amount and ask for your invoice.

Or if there's any issues within voices that are preventing you from paying anything that that you should work with them to resolve if it's pricing issues or some other issue.

But keeping that open line of communication between your team and your vendors is critical. Also, you know, thinking outside the box think beyond your department for feedback on processes. I think, again, it's very important to have your processes documented.

And even policies created around

That way, all expectations are set there in writing, if you hire new staff during the year.

They should be reading those acknowledging that they read those so that everyone knows what's expected of them on a daily basis.

And maybe this is the time to look at some of your current processes and review them. And again, include others in that review.

To see if maybe there are things that you could be doing better or that you could improve on and take those necessary steps because, again, the more proactive, you are

The more likely you are to have a seamless clothes and also share those deadlines and calendars with your team to stay organized.

One thing that always comes to my mind is expense reporting at year in making sure that everyone is submitting those making sure that your AP team is aware of any large expenses that could be coming, coming along. So that line of communication really needs to be far reaching.

And as we mentioned a minute ago, reviewing and reconciling often

You know you things like reconciling monthly to confirm your actual spin matches the withdrawal amount reviewing and updating vendor accounts.

Also use your resources and accounting tools to confirm, actually. One thing I always like to say is that sometimes we may not be utilizing all of the functionality in our era.

There maybe are things that we could be using that would help. So I encourage you to maybe talk to your consultant or someone at your earpiece just to find out if I'm doing everything that I can be doing to to ensure that you know what I'm doing is correct and the most efficient.

And then automating operational components obviously finance teams are multitasking all the time.

In at automation can definitely help teams work smarter and not harder by, you know, creating a centralized vendor setup and invoicing process to reduce duplicate payments.

Offering the full picture of the company's finances even making sure that you are receiving up today accurate reporting particularly important is that accrual reporting.

That comes at month end and year and so no more relying on spreadsheets. You know, when invoices come in in a manual fashion.

If we're not able to get them internet we're probably keeping them on our desk entering them into a spreadsheet. Well, that can be a thing of the past with AP automation.

Because it's going to track that for you. So all you'll have to do is push about also cash flow forecasting understanding what's do

You know, again, if you're not using POS, which of course is another valuable tool to help you be able to cash forecast, but just being aware of your expenditures and that

You know if there's anything large that you have coming up so that there's no surprises, not to mention audit.

You know, I think sometimes there's a misconception that auditors may be leery about automating AP, in particular, because we all know that AP is heavily audited.

But actually that's very far from the truth auditors. They don't like to have to go through paper anymore than we did so by giving them read only access to your data is very important. So in this world we're living in this year, having that access that remote access is very important.

So again, automating operational components as much as you can. Takes a lot of manual laborious tasks off of your plate and and puts them on, you know, the software and so you'll find that you're not losing any visibility or any control if anything you're gaining some

Insight we'll talk a little bit about that here in just a few minutes.

So how can AP automation help

So there's many, many reasons to automate AP. And here's just for you know values that or, you know, points out for different values that you can gain from automating AP. So as I mentioned visibility and control you're gaining that real time visibility into your invoice data.

This year with the code 19 talk to many people, many financial professionals that didn't have access to their

Information. So they were having to drive into the office or or maybe even bringing stacks of paper home so with automation that goes away. As long as you have access to the Internet, you'll have access to your data.

Also, just the efficiencies. Overall, you can reduce and significantly reduce your invoice and payment processing times

You know, you don't have to worry about missing and a cash discount or having to pay any late fees, you know, this is particularly important when we think about things like utility bill.

We all know that utility companies can certainly charge a deposit if late payments are, you know, continuing to be received and we certainly want to avoid that.

So making sure that you have streamline your approval workflows, which again, you're still in control of so whatever your approval workflows are today will remain the same, but just in an automated fashion.

Also time and labor. It's eliminating those manual paper based tasks and for AP, there's many of those from opening the mail to having to scan it in

Emailing invoices around to be coded or approved or even walking invoices down the hall, you start to think about things that can happen you know what if something doesn't get paid because someone never returns that invoice.

And so there's many ways with AP that I think always that we can improve upon our processes that something about you know automating just takes the worry

off your plate and a lot of different areas. And then finally cost you know you're even able to add the revenue from a payment rebates. If you automate your payment process.

You're cutting hard and soft processing costs, what today is an extremely manual process. So, cutting paper checks and I always find this stat to be quite interesting.

I actually started working in accounting out of school in the late 80s. So yes, a long time ago where everything was paid with a paper check in. There was paper everywhere. And so I am surprised. All these years later, that so many paper checks are still being used to pay vendors

Actually there's research out there that says small to mid sized companies are still paying their vendors with checks 80% of the time 80% and I think we all know that checks are the most fraud problem, you know, checks can get stolen lost in the mail.

So again, just thinking about the big picture and thinking about change, you know, change management technology is here. And so we need to make sure that we're moving in the right direction.

So AP automation with avid exchange.

So avidxchange actually last year process 12 million payments and we're on track to do many more than that in 2020 even with the coven 19

Situation that avid exchange. We have over 1400 employees and 400 of those are actually dedicated to payment onboarding and processing that they're making sure that

vendors are enrolled successfully that payments are being facilitated timely that payments are clearing we're adding over 1000 suppliers to the Avid pay network every week.

We currently have over 680,000 active suppliers, which is the largest in the space we integrate with over 160 accounting system.

And we have lots of customers and our customer retention rate is extremely high. And it's because we have what we call sticky products.

The products that really become an important part of our customers daily operations. And so, you know, it's a good product. It works for them. It gives them everything they need and again makes our lives much easier.

So there are two types of automation solution. The first one being the invoice process and the second one being the payment process.

So we're going to talk first about avid invoice.

So again, many benefits here. I won't go over each one. But as you can see here when you automate it's highly scalable if your company is growing with automation. You don't necessarily need to add new heads in AP to maintain that

You don't need to add any more data entry people because with automation that part goes away. Again, you can always connect anywhere at anytime. As long as you have an internet connection. There's no expensive hardware to buy we operate in the cloud.

And you can approve your invoices and payments Mobley

So many, many benefits of Avid invoice.

And I think this slide in particular really resonates. And it's one that I have seen hundreds of time, but it still talks to me because, you know, I remember being that

You know, AP team, way back in the day that was having to do all of these manual tasks. So the for automation.

Excuse me, the AP process looks very similar to what you see on the screen. Someone is opening the mail their routing those invoices around coding

Making sure they're approved. A lot of times, again, that's through email, and they're having to manually enter in all of that invoice information.

And then on the payment side there, of course, selecting which invoices. They want to pay hiding checks going through the traditional bank rec process.

Following up with vendors and then filing and voices.

I know back in the 90s. I worked for a company. And this was before AP automation. We had wall walls row after row of filing cabinets.

Was a rather large organization and we even had to have off site storage to keep all of our records because we need to keep them for seven years.

So with, you know, filing paper invoices, you're also running the risk of things getting lost.

So that's never a good thing, particularly if it's a sample if it's something that an auditor has requested so invoices filing them the paper all can be a thing of the past.

Because now after automation, you're taking all of these steps on the left, and you're combining that and chip three here on the right.

And these are the three steps that you would definitely continue to keep because these are things that

You know your business makes decisions on as to how to code invoices so needs to approve them. And then, of course, selecting invoices for payment and we see look at that straight through processing improvement 2.4 times with automation. It's just incredible.

And with avid invoice. We actually will handle the invoice collection piece, meaning that

We can open up a P. O. Box and your company's name and our team will actually manage that. So those paper invoices that are still being mailed in

Will actually handle getting those open, getting them scanned into your automated workflow will also create an email address in your name so that those vendors that are emailing invoices today can continue to email just to a different

Email address and then always if you still receive any invoices in house. Maybe someone comes by and drops one on a desk.

You'll always have the ability to upload that yourself and get that into your automated workflow. So we're actually going to capture your invoices. Your invoice images and we're going to capture that header detail.

So no more manual entry of, you know, the vendor information the invoice number day amount, etc. That's all being done for you, through our technology and our service team.

And as I mentioned, you will continue to, you know, create your own workflows, our team will certainly work with you when you're going through onboarding we're going to do things like

uploading your chart of accounts so that all of your accounts are there for you to choose from one coding. We're going to upload your master vendor file so that, again, you're in complete control of adding vendors to your system, your AARP will remain your system of record, but

avidxchange and your, your RP can talk to each other through a sinking mechanism.

So we're getting those invoices collected. We're capturing that header information so that all you have to do is just review.

Add the coding that we do have tools that can help you with that and approve. So what we're looking at now is actually an approval queue.

So what happens when and approve or has invoices to approve, they'll receive an automated email letting them know that they need to log in and approve.

So once they do so they can see at a quick glance. How many invoices, they have for approval.

And if it's a high level approval. That doesn't necessarily want to go into each individual invoice, they can actually just review, you know, the things like the supplier information total dollar amount, etc.

And then just approve in bulk, but most people will actually want to go in and check out each one and review and make sure that the coding is correct.

And that's what we're looking at right now is the actual workflow itself. So this is of course your invoice image. So it doesn't matter if it's one page or 100 pages. We're going to capture all of that for you.

Over here is that header detail that I was talking about. So we're extracting all of this information. And again, your suppliers are being chosen from your master vendor file.

So if an invoice comes in for a supplier, that's not already set up in your system, it will move to an exception queue and then your team will actually monitor that exception to because we certainly wouldn't want to assume that a new vendor is correct.

So then down here where it says distribution. This is where you would apply coding and again that's from your chart of accounts.

But as you'll see here there's already coding applied and that's because we have tools that can help you.

With those recurring invoices that are coded the same way month over month

You can actually just turn that smart coding feature on it will remember that vendor that account number for that particular vendor encoded. The same way that you coded it last month.

But that being said, you always have the ability to come down and make changes. If you need to, you can also add multiple lines of distribution. You can split out coding based on percentages.

And these columns will actually reflect your existing GL string. So all of this is configurable to meet your needs.

Once those invoices are fully coated and fully approved on your end, then they will be bad. And then sit back over to your accounting systems.

And they'll go back into your AP sub-ledger. So it would look just like you enter those invoices yourself. And of course, the next step in the AP process is payments. So when those invoices become do. That's where avid pay can come in.

So if we talked a little bit about the added pay network again 690,000 plus suppliers and this grows, you know, over 1000 every day.

We have multiple methods available payment methods available for your suppliers to choose from. That includes where it says MasterCard

We use virtual cards. So they're not a tangible card. It's a car that is created for a specific vendor and a specific dollar amount

So once the vendor processes that card through their merchant account then that card number expires so extremely, extremely you know fraud.

prevented a tool there, if you will. So they can't use that same number over and over again. Also we have an enhanced a CH process and we have the paper check

That instead of you having to print the checks and stuff, the envelopes and mail them out will do that for you.

And what we typically see is that on day one. As soon as you go live on avid pay about 28% of your vendors, you will find are already in the Avid pay network.

And they're already receiving payments on behalf of other clients.

So if that's the case, that's great. But if not, that's fine. We actually have that dedicated team that will reach out to your vendors

They'll educate them on the adaptation network, the different payment methods and then ultimately, you know, collect their information and then you know the payment will go out

A lot of times people think, Well, I'm sure utility suppliers, you know, they would just want to check and actually

A good portion of utility suppliers actually accept a virtual card payment. It's much easier for them on the HR side.

We also have over 30,000 add suppliers and added pay directly again is our enhanced a CH offering. We have 200,000 plus

He payments and apply suppliers enrolled. And again, it's all about getting rid of the paper converting those check vendors over to new payment forms.

And then we have the highest a payment adoption in the space at 40% on average. So that means we're able to convert check vendors over to any payment at that rate. So pretty impressive.

It will talk really quick about the Avid pay network and how it works. And as I mentioned, you're still going to generate your payments.

You are going to create your check, Ron, just like you do today, it will assign your check numbers, but instead of pushing those checks to the printer.

You'll actually through our integration have an option available to you to send those payments over to the adaptation network.

So once we receive that payment file you again will have the ability to do an additional approval on those payments. So it kind of mirrors the traditional check signing

So you can approve those payments online. So you're not dependent on someone being in the office to approve something before you can actually

Get going with your check run once those are approved. We're going to initiate individual a CH debit

To your bank account. So if you've got 10 payments and a payment batch. You'll see 10 separate a CH debit on your bank statements.

But also on your bank statement and you will see your check number referenced as well as the vendors name so super easy to tie that back to your check run

And then here, of course, once the debit happen. We are creating the different payment methods based on what the supplier has told us. So one of these three methods is being created and then the payments are facilitated out to your vendors

So as far as a traditional bank reconciliation process goes that becomes much easier for you.

So today, where you're ticking and tying that this check cleared this chat clear that will go away and become more of just a review process for you.

Because all of your payments are going out of the settlement account. So once we debit your account those funds are going into a settlement account a clearing account.

And then payment is made that way. So for your purposes, all of your payments will show as clear and I'm using air quotes here.

From your earpiece standpoint, so that traditional bank rec that takes so long is gone.

So now we're going to take another poll question. And then we're going to move to q&a

So what are your next steps. If you take just a few seconds to answer that for us. If you'd like to see a personalized demo.

Of avidxchanges solutions or you would like more information on AP automation or if you're just here to learn if you could take a few seconds just to answer that.

Alright PK get those in there, we'll look at the results here in a second.

Melissa Waters: Been open for just another second mark is we almost have 100% completion.

Rhonda Greene: Oh, wonderful. That's great.

Melissa Waters: Already a minute index. It looks like everybody is done.

So while we're getting the results for you. I do have a couple of questions that came in.

So first, can I send out my vendor payments through avidxchange.

Rhonda Greene: So that's a great question. And the answer is yes, and that there aren't going to be rushed payments. We all know that sometimes the vendor may just drop by your office and need a check right then.

The beauty here with the Avid pay network is that you never lose the ability to cut checks and house if you need to send a check right then.

So you can definitely send the majority of your payments over to avid pay, but you'll always maintain that that control of being able to process one here there yourself.

Melissa Waters: I think you will my invoice approval process need to change.

Rhonda Greene: Now, and that's the great thing is that whatever controls.

You have in place around your workflow. And your approvals.

Can stay in place. It's just that they're going to be automated. So those invoices are going to be coded and approved a lot faster than what they are today in a manual process. But again, you're still in control over those approvals.

Melissa Waters: And next question that came in is there a limit to the number of users that can use the solution.

Rhonda Greene: You know, I have never heard of the limit. And I know we have some very large companies that have, you know, an excess of 100 plus users. So, to my knowledge, there is no limit.

Melissa Waters: Wonderful.

Alright, so I don't have any other questions just yet. So we can leave it open and and I believe there is another slide with a fun incentive that habit has going to save you could switch to that for me, please.

So, for those of you that did request to see a demo of it is being wonderful and giving out 50 or MasterCard gift cards for attending that demo. If you are interested as well and doing that and we can still get you set up on that and the JMT team will follow up with you.

You can also respond to our follow up email that will be sending this afternoon to you if you want to see more

And so with that, I don't see any other questions coming in. So Ron, I'm gonna let you say any closing remarks and then I will wrap it up for us.

Rhonda Greene: Sure. So I'd like to thank everyone for attending today. Hopefully you've got some good information out of this. And again, if you're currently not using a urine or vodka and checklist.

I encourage you to just go out and search for one. There's lots of great templates out there. So again, thank you.

Melissa Waters: All right, thank you. And for those of you that just submitted questions we will follow up with

You at right after this webinar. I appreciate everyone joining us today and I hope that you have a wonderful rest of your day.

Thank you.

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