With Vena, Capstone’s finance team followed three simple steps and cut month-end close times in half.
The month-end close process can be a real drag. Copying data from the general ledger (GL), reconciling accounts manually and consolidating financial statements with spreadsheets is a tedious, error-prone affair. It gets even more complicated if you’re reporting on multiple business units each month, because then you might have dozens of offline spreadsheets to bring together before you can close the books.
That was the challenge facing Devendra Kalwani—Finance Manager at Capstone Infrastructure—and his teammates.
According to Devendra, Capstone's month-end close process had “significant version control issues, data integrity problems and a lack of standardization” before implementing Vena’s finance-led planning solution. So when he launched the tool back in 2015, he addressed those issues with three important steps:
- Integrating company-wide data sources
- Automating manual processes
- Enabling cross-functional collaboration
Now Capstone has reliable processes in place for account reconciliation, consolidation and reporting—making it easy for Devendra’s team to tackle the month-end close process with confidence. He also says Vena “transformed our reporting capability and significantly reduced our errors,” allowing them to cut month-end close times from 10 business days down to five.
If you follow these steps at your organization, you’ll be able to speed up your month-end close process as well. Keep reading to find out how Devendra approached each step at Capstone, and learn how to make the most of finance-led planning tools on your journey toward accelerated close cycles.
Earn CPE credits by watching Capstone’s video session at plantogrow.com, a free digital learning platform for business leaders and finance and operations professionals.
Step 1: Integrating Data Sources for a Single Source of Truth
The first thing Devendra did was consolidate company-wide data into a secure, centralized database. By leveraging Vena's integrations with all of Capstone’s existing data sources—including the ERP/GL, HR system, CRM and fixed asset tracking software—he gathered all the data he needed for the month-end close process in one place.
Now, with integrated financial templates and company-wide data at their fingertips, Devendra and his teammates can accurately measure the health of the business in real time. Working from one source of truth provides clearer visibility into Capstone’s account balances as well—ultimately resulting in faster, more accurate close cycles.
“If there’s an account balance that doesn’t jive with their expectation, they can drill down to see every transaction that builds up to that balance,” says Devendra. “Users are able to catch journal entry errors prior to it coming to the reviewers, which as a reviewer myself has saved me a lot of time.”
Make sure all the integrations you need are supported when evaluating finance-led planning tools. That way, you won’t have to flip between disparate source systems to locate the data you need for your close cycle.
Step 2: Taking Advantage of Process Automation
After configuring his new planning tool with right integrations, Devendra turned his attention toward advanced process automation. He knew this would improve accuracy and reduce time spent on month-end close processes, because as he says, “manual inputs are subject to human error.”
Here are some of the key month-end checklist items Capstone has automated with Vena:
- Journal entries to and from the GL for streamlined account reconciliation
- Consolidated financial statement production
- Profit and loss (P&L) variance analysis between close periods
- Report distribution to stakeholders
By automating those processes, Devendra was able to eliminate the need to consolidate data manually in offline spreadsheets—which is often a huge bottleneck in a typical month-end close process. Now he says financial statements “are ready with the click of a button,” which gives him a lot more time to plan for the future of the business.
Automate as much as you can when launching your own finance-led planning tool. It will save your finance team from tedious month-end close processes, just like it has for Capstone.
Read Capstone’s feature story to learn more about automating month-end close processes with finance-led planning solutions.
Step 3: Boosting Collaboration with Workflows and Audit Trails
With integrations and automation in place, Capstone was able to realize yet another major advantage of finance-led planning tools: the ability to track and manage the month-end close process in real time.
Now, instead of emailing spreadsheets back and forth and chasing down colleagues for numbers, Devendra uses custom-built workflows to assign tasks to teammates based on their individual roles and security permissions. Users are notified automatically when a mission-critical task needs doing—like confirming a specific account balance, for example—and the next phase of the workflow doesn’t start until it’s completed.
Audit trails also allow Devendra to verify accuracy when changes are made to the numbers. This has eliminated data integrity issues at Capstone and enabled cross-functional collaboration throughout the month-end close process. Now Devendra can work more closely with internal leaders to derive meaningful insights from their numbers, instead of just scrambling to verify them each month.
“We've seen an increased level of accountability and ownership among the team,” he says. “We spend more time analyzing data, and that's how I believe our resources should be spent.”
When navigating your own month-end close cycle, always adhere to the workflows you’ve built and hold your teammates accountable. And as you’ll learn from the video below, this is a lot easier to do with Vena.
Excel at Month-End Close With Vena
Mastering Capstone’s formula for faster month-end close cycles is not an overnight process, but it is achievable. By empowering your team with Vena and following the steps above, you won’t lose any sleep when it's time to close the books each month. Instead, you’ll be able to tackle the process head-on, using our finance-led planning solution to integrate your data and automate manual tasks. It will save you time for collaborative, forward-thinking analysis so you can plan for the future with confidence.