How to prevent delays during your close

Every month you want to get your close done and dusted as quickly and smoothly as possible. That’s why you’ve put the right Performance Management solution in place, and set up your processes in a smart way. But it can still happen that you run into delays. How can you prevent these? Bert Dotinga shares five tips from the years of experience he’s got under his belt supporting financial systems.

 

When you’re doing your close, you want to be able to rely completely on both your processes and your systems. This is the moment when the pressure’s really on, so you don’t want any issues or incidents cropping up.  And that’s why it’s important to make sure your Enterprise Performance Management system is in tip-top shape.

In practice, though, we see that both process choices and technical factors cause delays during the close. How do you stop these factors from playing a role?

Five tips for preventing delays during your close

Tip 1. Make sure you work in a smart way that accommodates releases

In practice, changes to your system are among the most common causes of delays during your close. And the good news is that this is a cause that can easily be rectified by doing some decent planning. Introduce plan-based release management, with hard deadlines for requesting and implementing changes. Agree, for example, that on the 20th of each month you will bring changes into production, and that all changes that have been submitted before the 10th of each month can be included. Is somebody too late? Well then, the change can be included the following month. That will save you from being confronted with surprises from ad hoc changes.

Tip 2. Test changes and cloud releases in advance

Testing is surprisingly uncommon in EPM solutions. We’re talking about an application that is not used on an everyday basis, and that therefore sometimes falls off IT’s radar. The practical result is a lot of unnecessary incidents.

By introducing release management (see tip 1), you also give yourself the time to test the proposed changes properly. Create a test script and a test report, so you can continue to find the details in the future. Good testing is done in a technical and functionally oriented manner, and this requires knowledge of both the financial process and the application in question. This also includes regression tests, in which you go through the entire process. In practice, we carry out a regression test after each release for many organizations.

In addition to changes you yourself suggest, new versions of MS Office or new releases of software, including software in the cloud, also have an impact on your systems. In practice, we regularly see unexpected issues arising from this. Be sure, then, to test these releases as well. Careful testing also helps you to really put the application through its paces by making proper use of all of its functionalities.

Tip 3. Automate repetitive actions

One big advantage of automating repetitive activities is of course that it saves time. But less manual work also reduces the chance of errors that can impact your close. We still see organizations that are changing the same journal entries month after month. You can easily automate that: you just change it in the source, or use ‘recurring journal.’

There are many monthly activities that you can automate by adding a script or making a slight tweak – for instance, manually uploading files and cleaning user logs every 90 days. You can also set up workflows around the process steps you perform each month, when it comes, for instance, to importing and calculating figures or updating your metadata. If you see to this once, you’ll benefit from it every month after that.

Tip 4. Proactive maintenance for good performance

You take your car to the garage for servicing as a regular matter, so you won’t have to worry about surprises when you’re on the road. Some garages even offer a holiday check, so you can be sure that everything is fine before you head off for the South of France. And the same goes for your application: here, too, it’s a good idea to schedule regular maintenance. You can do this, for instance, with the periodic maintenance that Swap Support offers. Every month we run the entire application through it, to ensure your disks or logs don’t run out of space, for example.

If you want to know what state your application is in, you can find out with Swap Support’s performance scan. We use it to measure the current state of your application’s health, and make any recommendations accordingly. That way, the application is always in good shape, and performance is always tip-top.

Tip 5. Check the set-up of your recovery plan

Make sure you know how the recovery plan for your financial systems is set up. How are the back-ups set up, and is this enough for your purposes? Normally, IT sets this up on the server, but some financial systems need an additional back-up. Oracle cloud solutions are one example. By default, only one day is stored in Oracle. And that’s really vexing if it turns out, when you’re doing the close, that some mistake was made a few days earlier.

That’s why Swap Support has developed Swap Automate, an additional back-up solution that stores several days. That way, you can never go wrong.

Set up your incident management properly

These five tips can help you prevent delays when you’re doing your close. Unfortunately, you can never completely eliminate incidents. Even if you have arranged everything well, you may still run into unexpected issues. Make sure that you have set up your incident management properly. Whom can you call? How quickly will they respond? And will they resolve the incident quickly? Whether you arrange this internally or outsource it, it’s important to make proper arrangements so you can prepare for your next close without having to stress out.

Want to prevent delays during your close?

Keeping the number of incidents and delays to a minimum requires an in-depth knowledge of both financial processes and the application in question. Our professionals have that know-how. Drop Judith Pennings a line or give her a buzz, via +31 (0)70 – 3003035, to discuss the possibilities within your organization.