Using a Checklist & Imports for Your Month-End Close

Many accountants dread the month-end close process, but it does’t have to be that way.

I have developed a month-end close system that can cut your closing time by at least 75% if you set it up properly. Click To Tweet

Actually, that estimate depends on the number of journal entries you make as part of your closing process. The more, the merrier and the more time you will save with this system.

Here are the steps you need to follow to get this set up

Step 1: Create a folder that will house a closing checklist and journal entries

Inside this folder you will add the following items:

  • A simple Excel closing checklist with all of the steps in Column A and each month listed across the top. 
  • A folder for each month of the year (or fiscal year)

Note for most of our clients we are now using a recurring task with sub-tasks in Asana to keep track of the steps instead of an Excel spreadsheet referred to above. In this case, your folder will just contain the monthly folders.

Step 2: Create a separate Excel spreadsheet for each of your journal entries

This is the hard part, but where you will save the most time in your month-end close process.

Why is this so hard?

These aren’t just any spreadsheets, these are powerful spreadsheets that include a tab for an import journal entry.

Let me give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

Perhaps you need to allocate payroll to several cost centers on a monthly basis. You would create a spreadsheet with a tab that contains the raw data received from the payroll processor. Other tabs in your spreadsheet would contain information to calculate the allocations such as employee % by cost center. 

Finally you would have a tab that contains a journal entry formatted for upload into your accounting system. If you are using QuickBooks Desktop, I recommend Transaction Pro Importer, but there are other tools available. 

Each month, you import the data from the payroll company and voila, the spreadsheet does the rest of the work including creating an import ready journal entry.

Rinse & Repeat

Create as many spreadsheets as you need for additional calculations and journal entries required on a monthly basis.

Step 3: Import the journal entries

Once all of your entries are “import ready” you can import them into your accounting software 1 by 1. This should only take minutes to accomplish.

As I mentioned above, some software programs such as QuickBooks Desktop or QBO will require an add-on app to do the import. Other software such as Xero or Horizon Software will allow for import without an external app.

Step 4: Update your checklist 

As you complete each step on your checklist, make sure to mark them off on your Excel worksheet or in your task management app. Keep in mind your tasks should include ALL steps needed to complete the month-end close. Things such as reconcile bank accounts, reconcile accounts receivable, etc. should all be included on your list.

It’s a good idea to order the tasks on your list in the order you need to do them. For example, if any of your journal entries affect bank accounts, those would need to be completed before doing the bank reconciliations.

Step 5: Wrap up and prepare for next month

Imagine the fact that once all of the tasks are completed, you are done with your month-end close. 

If you are using a spreadsheet as your checklist, you should have all the items in the monthly column checked off and you will be ready to go for the next month. If you are using an app like Asana with recurring tasks, complete your task and it will auto-create for next month.

Next Month

The last step is to get ready for next month. You will do this by copying all of the journal entries from the current month’s folder (see Step 1) into the folder for next month and you are ready to go.

Conclusion

If you follow the steps and set up your month-end close using this system you should be able to save a substantial amount of time each month. You can also use this to add steps that are only completed on a quarterly and annual basis so you don’t miss anything. 

To Your Success,

Bob Swetz

P.S. If you would like to dig deeper into this topic you have a few options:

  • Leave a comment on this post
  • Find me on social media by using the icons at the top of this page
  • Set up a 15 minute video call by using this link https://bobswetz.link/meeting15

3 thoughts on “Using a Checklist & Imports for Your Month-End Close

  1. Jessica Fox

    Good tips. I recently setup a similar system using Gqueues recurring tasks and have the journal entries saved in QBO as unscheduled transactions. So I just edit the saved JE in a few seconds. It took me years to think of it but now I feel like I am slowly getting back the time I used to waste.

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