Fast Close: A Guide to Closing the Books Quickly / Edition 2

Fast Close: A Guide to Closing the Books Quickly / Edition 2

by Steven M. Bragg, Bragg

ISBN-10: 0470465018

ISBN-13: 9780470465011

Pub. Date: 04/06/2009

Publisher: Wiley

Closing the month-end books followed by the issuing of financial statements as fast as possible is one of the most common—and time-consuming—challenges controllers face. Depending on the company, the process can take anywhere from four days to as long as five weeks. Finally, help is here! Now fully revised and updated, Fast Close: A Guide to

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Closing the month-end books followed by the issuing of financial statements as fast as possible is one of the most common—and time-consuming—challenges controllers face. Depending on the company, the process can take anywhere from four days to as long as five weeks. Finally, help is here! Now fully revised and updated, Fast Close: A Guide to Closing the Books Quickly, Second Edition shrinks the closing interval down to just one day.

The new edition of this hands-on guide presents the successful, field-tested principles of accounting guru Steven Bragg—using the same techniques he has personally used for years to issue financial statements for multidivisional companies.

Filled with flowcharts and checklists to help professionals avoid delays and bring accounting department closing procedures up to date, Fast Close, Second Edition straightforwardly illustrates how companies can close their financials quickly enough to issue statements within Sarbanes-Oxley's rigid time frame.

The new edition features new coverage of:

  • Closing Controls and Closing for the Public Company, with a new chapter for each
  • How to close faster, with checklists

  • Common areas of delay and how to overcome them

  • Flowcharts for how to route closing tasks through the accounting department

  • How to handle information roll-ups from subsidiaries

  • Those closing steps that can wait and those that need to be accelerated into the pre-closing period

Offering a compelling case for ending slavery to the month-long closing process, this invaluable resource shows accountants how to get it done efficiently, with authoritative discussion of shifting the timing of closing activities out of the core closing period; reducing the contents of the financial statements; standardizing the chart of accounts; centralizing accounting functions; streamlining the commission calculation process; and much more.

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Table of Contents


Chapter 1 Introduction.

Different Types of Fast Close.

Benefi ts of the Fast Close.

Legal Issues Impacting the Fast Close.

Steps to Achieve a Fast Close.


Chapter 2 Your Current Closing Process.

Traditional Closing Process: Basic.

Additional Closing Tasks for the Multidivision Company.

Additional Closing Tasks for the Multinational Company.

Additional Closing Tasks for the Public Corporation.

Problems with the Closing Process.



Chapter 3 Conducting a Review of the Closing Process.

Steps in the Process Review.

Payables Process Review.

Billing Process Review.

Inventory Process Review.

Cash Process Review.

Final Closing Process Review.

Total Duration of the Closing Process.



Chapter 4 Alter the Timing of Closing Activities.

Altering the Closing Mindset.

Review and Correct Subledger Transactions Throughout the Month.

Complete the Bank Reconciliation Every Day.

Review Uncashed Checks.

Update the Inventory Obsolescence Reserve.

Determine the Lower of Cost or Market.

Calculate Overhead Allocation Bases.

Bill Recurring Invoices.

Conduct a Preliminary Comparison of the Shipping Log to Invoices Issued.

Review Preliminary Rebillable Expenses.

Update the Bad Debt Reserve.

Review Preliminary Billable Hours.

Accrue Interest Expense.

Determine Pension Plan Funding.

Determine Flexible Spending Account Funding.

Accrue Unpaid Wages.

Accrue Unused Vacation Time.

Accrue Travel Expenses.

Reconcile Asset and Liability Accounts.

Calculate Depreciation.

Compile Preliminary Commissions.

Review Financial Statements for Errors.

Complete Selected Financial Reports in Advance.

Deferred Closing Activities.


Chapter 5 Revise the Contents of the Financial Statements.

Alter the Mode of Report Delivery.

Standardize Reports.

Eliminate Cost Reporting from the Reporting Package.

Separate Metrics from the Financial Reporting Package.


Chapter 6 Optimize the Use of Journal Entries and Chart of Accounts.

Eliminate Immaterial Journal Entries.

Standardize Journal Entries.

Convert to Recurring Journal Entries.

Centralize Use of Journal Entries.

Use Journal Entries to Accrue Expenses Delaying the Close.

Automate Journal Entry Postings.

Use Accruals Only for External Reporting.

Defi ne Accounts.

Standardize the Chart of Accounts.

Automate Eliminations of Intercompany Transactions.


Chapter 7 Standardization and Centralization.

Impact of Standardization on the Closing Process.

Impact of Centralization on a Multilocation Accounting Department.

Impact of Centralization on a Single-Location Accounting Department.

Incorporating Standardization and Centralization into Acquisition Activities.


Chapter 8 Closing the Inventory Function.

Create an Inventory Tracking System.

Implement Cycle Counting.

Reduce the Amount of Inventory.

Properly Record the Lower of Cost or Market Rule.

Reviewing Obsolete Inventory.

Preventing Obsolete Inventory.



Chapter 9 Closing the Billing Function.

Bill Recurring Invoices in the Preceding Month.

Computerize the Shipping Log.

Eliminate Rebillable Expense Processing from the Core Closing Period.

Eliminate Month-End Statements.

Print Invoices Every Day.

Transmit Transactions via Electronic Data Interchange.



Chapter 10 Closing the Payroll Function.

Automatically Calculate Commissions in the Computer System.

Simplify the Commission Structure.

Install Incentive Compensation Management Software.

Post Commission Payments on the Company Intranet.

Avoid Adjusting Preliminary Commission Accrual Calculations.

Use a Bar-Coded Time Clock.

Use a Web-Based Timekeeping System.

Automate Vacation Accruals.

Merge Sick Time into Vacation Time.

Cap the Amount of Vacation Time to Be Carried Forward.



Chapter 11 Closing the Payables Function.

Automate the Month-End Cutoff.

Pay Based on Receiving Approval Only.

Automate Three-Way Matching.

Reduce Required Approvals.

Use Negative Assurance for Invoice Approvals.

Use Procurement Cards.

Have Suppliers Include Their Supplier Numbers on Invoices.

Receive Billings Through Electronic Data Interchange.

Request That Suppliers Enter Invoices Through a Web Site.

Audit Expense Reports.

Automate Expense Reporting.

Link Corporate Travel Policies to an Automated Expense Reporting System.

Issue a Standard Account Code List.

Link Supplier Requests to the Accounts Payable Database.

Automate Payments for Repetitive Processing.

Eliminate Manual Checks.

Use a Signature Stamp.

Ignore Supplier Invoices and Pay from Statements.

Issue Standard Adjustment Letters to Suppliers.



Chapter 12 Closing the Cash Processing Function.

Access Bank Account Information on the Internet.

Avoid Delays in Check Posting.

Collect Receivables Through Lockboxes.

Install a Lockbox Truncation System.

Access Online Check Images from a Lockbox.

Consolidate Bank Accounts.



Chapter 13 Impact of Automation on the Closing Process.

Principles of Fast Close Automation.

Implement Minor Programming Changes on an Ongoing Basis.

Automate General Ledger Interfaces.

Install a Web-Based Timekeeping System.

Install a Workfl ow Management System.

Install Consolidation Software.

Install a data Warehouse.

Install an Enterprise Resources Planning System.


Chapter 14 Closing the Books of a Public Company.


Constructing the SEC Filing.

Quarterly Auditor Reviews and Audits.

Quarterly Legal Review.

Offi cer Certifi cation.

Audit Committee Approval.



Chapter 15 Controls for Financial Reporting.


Controls for Financial Reporting.


Chapter 16 Ongoing Improvements in the Closing Process.

Ongoing Improvement Process.

Improvement Measurements.


Appendix A Comprehensive Closing Checklist.

Appendix B Fast Close Policies and Procedures.

Appendix C Soft Close Checklist.

Appendix D Year-End Close Checklist.


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