Streamlining simplifies or eliminates unnecessary accounting tasks to improve your overall efficiency. By streamlining workflows and standardized procedures in accounting, you can save time and increase accuracy, reduce errors and oversights, improve your accountability, and ensure consistency.
Thankfully, NetSuite offers several tools and features to facilitate this optimization. As an ERP (enterprise resource planning) tool, the software also effortlessly links with other areas, like inventory, CRM, and payroll. This can revolutionize your financial management.
The Role of Workflows in NetSuite Accounting
An accounting workflow is essentially the steps and processes involved in carrying out and completing accounting tasks in your company. Your workflows should be planned and repeatable, to ensure stability and reduce errors.
Accounting workflow management refers to how you organize, set up, perform, and track these processes. An essential aspect of this is optimizing and streamlining your workflows through automation. That way, you eliminate potential issues, and improve the flow of tasks and information.
Automating your NetSuite accounting workflows can help you eliminate redundancies, offering a number of benefits.
The benefits of a well-defined workflow
- Better accuracy and fewer errors: Refined workflows can help you eliminate errors. Even better, when a problem does arise, a workflow management system can notify you, allowing you to immediately address issues, and prevent them from happening again.
- Increased efficiency: Standardizing your workflows can help your team reduce inaccurate calculations, and the need to constantly double-check their work.
- Improved transparency: Effective NetSuite accounting workflows allow you to record all transactions correctly, and in the right place. As a result, you have greater control over data accessibility.
- Enhanced collaboration and communication: A reliable accounting workflow eliminates the need for constant follow-ups and avoids bottlenecks. Moreover, using a workflow management system can connect multiple departments across your company for improved task allocation and communication.
- Increased productivity: By using automated workflows, your team can save a lot of time that would otherwise be used to send updates and track project progress.
- Improved strategizing: A well-defined workflow can give you access to real-time performance insights. This can help you make more informed financial decisions, and better allocate resources.
- Regulatory compliance: Effectively managing your accounting workflows helps your business keep accurate records of all financial records, ensuring that all accounting regulations are followed correctly.
Despite the numerous benefits of well-defined workflows, there are several common stumbling blocks.
Common Workflow Challenges in NetSuite
Meticulous planning and testing can help you avoid the three most common issues.
Overly complex or redundant processes
As your business grows or scales and the number of processes increases, so too will your workflows. However, this can lead to problems with the maintenance and management of accounting processes, as well as reduced performance speed from your system.
When setting up NetSuite accounting workflows, it’s essential to simplify the process wherever possible. This applies to both workflow structures and actions. For example, a complex workflow with multiple actions could be broken down into smaller, separated workflow states.
It’s also a good idea to accurately label workflow state names in the ‘description’ field. That way, each step can be followed easily and precisely.
Lack of clarity in roles and responsibilities
If you’re new to NetSuite workflows, proper training for all users is essential. It’s also important to ensure that you have buy-in from all stakeholders. If a user does not have clarity on their role and responsibilities within a given workflow, it can result in errors and inefficiency.
This is why effective communication and task delegation are important. In addition, training and occasional refresher courses will ensure that everyone knows how best to use the system. This can be arranged with a NetSuite accounting partner, or using the many resources available on the software’s support channels.
Inefficient data entry or approval processes
Without accurate data keeping and recording, your business can run into serious trouble. In addition to training your staff about when, where, and how to correctly input data, you should have a data entry policy. This must specify exactly how your organization enters and maintains records in your accounting database. Such a policy can ensure that you have access to accurate reporting and data analysis.
The same applies to approval processes. Inconsistent approval processes across departments or projects can cause confusion and errors. With a standardized approval process for all workflows, your team will be able to easily adhere to internal policies or regulatory requirements.
How to Optimize Workflows in NetSuite
Workflow management is essential for optimization. This refers to outlining how your accounting processes should be managed from start to finish. By monitoring, analyzing, and testing each step in your workflow process, you’ll uncover potential issues and be able to improve your accounting processes.
Effective workflow management involves the following:
- Auditing your existing workflows: By examining your existing workflows, you can easily identify trends, bottlenecks and redundancies. This is particularly important if your company improves or alters an existing workflow.
- Engaging the relevant stakeholders: By gathering feedback from users, you can understand and remedy potential pain points.
- Utilizing NetSuite’s workflow tools: NetSuite has several tools available to effortlessly streamline and manage accounting workflows. For example, Workflow Manager lets you create, view, and edit the state, action, and transition of various workflow elements. SuiteFlow also allows you to create and execute NetSuite workflows through task automation.
- Customizing and automating processes: This allows your accounting software to automate time-consuming or tedious operations, especially time-consuming and tedious tasks that are prone to mistakes. Through automation, your team will be able to work faster and more accurately, for maximum efficiency. NetSuite workflows you can easily automate include data entry and categorization, procurement and sales, reconciliation, and month-end reporting.
- Regular reviews and updates: Reviewing your workflows ensures that they align with your goals and processes. It also ensures that your workflows remain relevant and efficient as your business needs evolve.
With optimized NetSuite accounting workflows, your team will have no problem conforming to your business’ standard operating procedures.
The Importance of Standard Operating Procedures
Standard operating procedures (POSs) help to govern and standardize your entire organization’s operations. They refer to a documented and clearly defined set of instructions to be followed for specific processes, policies and standards in your business.
For example, an SOP for your accounting team could cover the following responsibilities:
- Record-keeping and documentation.
- Reporting and financial analysis.
- Budgeting and forecasting.
- Cash flow management.
- Payroll processing.
- Tax filings.
Your accounting department is the main avenue through which your business’ performance can be measured. That’s why SOPs ensure day-to-day transactional governance and regulatory compliance.
How SOPs complement and reinforce optimized workflows
While your accounting workflows explain how a specific accounting process should be undertaken, an SOP outlines the overall purpose of the workflow, through clear objectives and boundaries. SOPs are not limited to a specific task. In fact, they include additional information like the applicable accounting regulations or standards, as well as any necessary forms or templates needed for these practices.
The differences between workflows and SOPs are the level of detail contained in each, as well as the purpose. The former dictates how a task should be performed, and the latter dictates why it should be done that way.
As such, having efficient NetSuite accounting workflows in place ensures that your finance department can meet the company’s overall goals, by giving context for your workflows.
Creating Effective SOPs for NetSuite Accounting
An accounting SOP should cover all of your finance team’s specific responsibilities. As such, it’s best to first get feedback from the team about their exact processes, to make sure you cover every aspect of your business’s financial management.
To do this, you need to create documentation that clearly outlines each step of the accounting process. This needs to be clear, concise, and easy to follow. If needed, your SOP can include checklists, forms, and templates to ensure consistency and accuracy.
Moreover, the SOP should be easily accessible, and undergo strict version control to ensure that all users have access to the most up-to-date version, should any changes be made.
Next, ensure that you periodically review and update your SOP to reflect any changes in business processes. This allows your team’s processes to stay relevant and compliant. Any updates must be clearly communicated to staff, along with relevant training to ensure the SOP is followed correctly. Training should also include the relevant best practices and accounting standards.
With the input of a NetSuite CPA, you can ensure that your SOP is in line with the changing regulations imposed on the finance industry.
The role of technology in ensuring seamless integration
As mentioned above, accounting workflow management systems allow for improved accuracy and efficiency. This, in turn, means that using such a system can help your finance team abide by your SOP. After all, without an effective system in place, the chances of errors, missed work, duplications, and noncompliance are much higher.
Case Study: A Transformation Story
Through workflow optimization and SOP implementation, it’s possible to revamp your NetSuite accounting processes. Consider, for example, the case of our client John, who has a professional audio equipment company.
As the company grew, it experienced problems with its manual accounting and financial processes. Initially, these were time-consuming, involving a lot of spreadsheets and manual entries.
However, after developing new SOPs aimed at streamlining their workflows and reducing manual data entry, the company used NetSuite to set up new rules and protocols for data management and financial reporting.
Through customization of NetSuite features, and training their staff on the new processes and platform, the company was able to better define their workflow. As a result, they experienced improved efficiency, accuracy in financial reporting, and a better ability to scale their operations.
This demonstrates how workflow optimization and SOP implementation with NetSuite can improve overall financial management.
With an ongoing commitment to maintaining optimization, your company can also have the strategic advantage of efficient accounting workflows and clear SOPs in NetSuite accounting.
To learn how best to make use of NetSuite for your accounting workflows, schedule a Discovery Call with one of our NetSuite CPAs.
The information presented in this blog article is provided for informational purposes only. The information does not constitute legal, accounting, tax advice, or other professional services. We make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability of the information contained herein. Use the information at your own risk. We disclaim all liability for any actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this blog. The use or interpretation of this information is solely at your discretion. For full guidance, consult with qualified professionals in the relevant fields.