The month end close checklist is a system that allows a company to facilitate the end of month accounting department closing process. A comprehensive month end close checklist will contain much useful information that is exhaustive in its detail and may cover the following areas: bank reconciliation, budget versus actual, cash flow analysis, accounts payable, accounts receivable, fixed assets, debt reconciliation and a host of other items.
When using a month end close checklist, it is highly recommended that most small to medium size companies prepare six binders, one each for Accounts Receivable, Sales Orders, Accounts Payable, Purchase Orders, Payroll and General Ledger. The binders should be 3 or 4 inches thick and can be obtained from the office supply stores with each binder having twelve dividers, one for each month. In each of these binders place the completed month-end checklists and month end reports as printed out by the accounting.
Once these procedures are followed diligently, the month end close checklist system will assist the company auditing department, which must provide relevant information to the IRS and to other state tax auditors. In addition, this system acts as a fallback in case of a disastrous system or backup failure.
There are two types of closing checklists. Those that pertain to year end (hard closes) and those pertaining to month end (soft closes) and each is useful in providing managers in the organization with important financial information, especially for internal use. With the growing use of computers, the month end close checklist has now found its way into software packages that automate the whole process for the current month and for the next month.
An important aspect of month end close checklists is the presence of closing process controls which can be either preventive or detective and which are used to produce company financial reports for each month. Usually companies formulate their own regulations to ensure that the procedures that they use are effective and that the reports accurately provide month end information about the financial position of the company. The checklist is there to provide a method of keeping accurate financial records that are both consistent and well maintained.
There are a number of vendors selling month end close checklists that, after a lot of research and expert advice, have been diligently prepared and which take into account all aspects of the company’s accounting procedures. The checklist can also be tailored to suit individual needs as required. The cost is not more than ten dollars and the benefit to the user is tremendous as there is no need to do much more than fill in the relevant information and once that is done, the month end close checklist is ready to be used for the individual company’s accounting system.