Continuous accounting is often described as a 'new approach' to accounting. Rather than providing accounting and financial data to the board at monthly, quarterly or annual intervals, data is delivered in real time on an ongoing basis. Continuous accounting is made possible by digital technologies that automate repetitive processes in the financial cycle. From the point of view of financial, treasury and accounting professionals, the great benefit is that – in theory – the workload is spread more evenly throughout the year, avoiding bottlenecks. And for the organisation, there are also clear advantages to having a continuous supply of reliable financial data: problems can be addressed as they arise and goals and priorities set and altered according to real-time data.
The key to continuous accounting is end-to-end automation of key financial processes and the assured integrity of the data. The automation cuts down on workload for employees and the improves the reliability of data reports, so that the organisation can base strategic decisions on financial intelligence with improved accuracy, thereby also supporting the COSO Framework initiative to combat corporate fraud.
Continuous data is essential
“In today's rapidly evolving business world, continuous accounting is essential,” says Stephanie Terrill, of KPMG in Canada. The consultancy firm has just announced its collaboration with financial software firm BlackLine to provide technology and advisory services to help clients adopt a continuous accounting model. Terrill continues: “Finance and accounting teams need to leverage technology to be able to quickly produce the information and analysis needed to address business challenges and opportunities as well as regulatory and reporting obligations.”
The kind of automated, Cloud-based services provided by KPMG Canada and Blackline will ultimately allow finance professionals to move away from transaction processing and into more valuable operational and strategic decision support, says Terrill. The platform offered by Blackline can integrate with more than 30 enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and is designed to replace manual spreadsheet-based processes, streamline accounting workflows and enable accuracy and compliance auditability, supporting account reconciliation, journal entry, task management, consolidation integrity management, intercompany management, transaction matching and variance analysis.
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