Year-end checklist for finance teams—10 ways to end the year right

The exciting month of December offers a paradox to finance teams. They’re in retrospective mode while also planning for the year ahead. And they’re super busy while hoping to use up any leftover vacation days before the year ends.

Our finance dream team powers through it with some smart planning, to-do lists and the occasional eggnog. Here are a few of the items that finance leaders need to check off this time of year:

Get going on analyzing what you have: Are you set up for impairment analysis? If you haven’t yet identified indicators that could affect your asset valuation, you’re entering the no-excuses zone.

Reflect on your company’s viability: This is also the time you should be ready to assess—and record—your company’s ability to continue as a going concern.

Check in on your vendors: By now you should have access to SOC 1 reports from your third-party providers. Be sure to review what they say about their financial-related controls to consider any adverse impact on your internal controls.

See where you are with recognizing revenue: With all the attention and focus going toward adopting ASC 606, a review of current-year revenue transactions may be overdue. Don’t forget to make sure you’ve kept up to date with documentation around large and unusual transactions over the past year.

Review your progress: As for the new revenue recognition standard, by now you should have well-documented implementation plans, robust testing of systems changes, and a process and information for dual-reporting disclosures. This information is not only required in 10-Ks, but auditors will be really interested to see what companies have to say here. In an alert in October, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board specifically told auditors to look carefully at what management reports in disclosures and footnotes around their implementation efforts. (This will likely still be an area of focus for the PCAOB even as it transitions to a new board and chairman in 2018.)

Look carefully at stock-based comp: Take a microscope to your equity records. This is about the time when accounting teams tend to get wind of option modifications made without their input. You should also look out for data-entry mistakes (they’re more common than you think!) and any missing paperwork.

Remember your auditors: Any preparation you can do for the upcoming audit will save time and stress later. At this point, you could request the client assistance schedule and start thinking about how you will gather the necessary documents when the time comes. If it’s your company’s very first audit or your first time with a particular firm, you may need to set aside time for educating the auditors about your business.

Reconcile for real: Maybe you’ve been naughty all year by letting reconciliations lag and now’s the time to catch up. Or perhaps you’ve been nice and it’s time to tidy up by reviewing current reconciliations to resolve any issues by the 31st.

Check in on budgets: If you take a “use it or lose it” approach to budgets, some leaders in the company may be buzzing about how they’re going to use theirs up. Reach out with reminders that expense reports need to be submitted on time, and consider whether some teams could carry over their unused budget for more careful spending next year. You don’t want any rash purchases in the waning weeks of 2017.

Know when you need help: This busy time can reveal cracks in the system. Projects that stretch the abilities of staff—or burn them out—often result in errors and missed deadlines. Folding in specialized expertise to take on a one-time transaction (like preparing for the audit) or to help the team get through a busy time is a smart way of efficiently filling a gap and starting the new year off right.

Make your way through this list, and you’ll finish the year on the right foot!