Mary Schaeffer

Make Your Year-End Run Smoother

Eight simple ways revealed.

November 1, 2007
by Mary Schaeffer

December and January do not have to be any more hectic than the rest of the year. Of course, for that to happen, you need to take appropriate steps before the year-end train hurls down the tracks wreaking havoc.

Follow these steps to ensure a smoother year-end:

  1. Hire an intern to work over the holidays. If you have a few dollars left in your budget, hire a college student to help out over the holidays and perhaps in January while the student is on winter break. The student will appreciate the income and you will be able to get the more tedious work done. In fact, if you post a notice on the company bulletin board, an employee in another department may have a child or niece or nephew that fits the bill. This is also a good way to try out a prospective employee.
  2. Catch up with travel and entertainment processing and reimbursements.Employees travel a lot less as year-end approaches, so this is a good time to get T&E processing up to date. Remind all employees to get their reimbursement requests in before December 10 (or the specified date set by your organization). Your goal is to make sure that you are not dealing with rush T&E requests on the last few days of the year when you are closing out accounts payable’s books.
  3. Get all invoices into accounts payable as early in the month as possible. Then get them all entered into the system. If you have a backlog, the intern discussed in step one will help. This will help with your accrual process as well as improve the accuracy of those accruals.
  4. Don't leave year-end reviews until the end of December.You know when they are coming, so get them started in November — at least how the raise and promotion budget will be allocated along with all the paper work. Whether you tell your employees or not will depend on company policy.
  5. Send deadline notices for rush checks. December is a terrible time for rush checks. Send a notice saying that no rush checks will be issued and all invoices need to be delivered to accounts payable before December 20 (or the appropriate date for your group). Do not expect to be 100 percent successful with this initiative but if you can reduce the number of invoices arriving on the 30th and 31st, you will have made the close a little smoother.
  6. End tracking down W-9 information of vendors. Stop wasting time in December trying to track down the Social Security numbers of the independent contractors used during the year. If you do not already have a policy of requiring vendors to provide you with W-9 forms before you do business with them, institute that policy right now. It puts an end to the December/January madness that sometimes accompanies the issuance of 1099s.
  7. Put an end to IRS discrepancies. Stop wasting time in October and November trying to reconcile discrepancies reported by the IRS on B-Notices, which informs you when your filing earlier in the year was not correct. Mismatches between the name and the taxpayer identification number are frequent. Reduce your mismatches to almost nothing by participating in the IRS Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) Matching program and using it throughout the year.
  8. Approve invoices for payment and make returning them to accounts payable for processing a top priority.This will make AP run smoother with fewer vendor inquiries, improve vendor relations and reduce duplicate payments, making your organization more profitable.

While none of the strategies recommended above are earth shattering; they're all within your realm. By implementing them now, you will improve the efficiency of your accounting department and certainly boost overall employee morale at year-end.

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Mary S. Schaeffer is the author of a dozen business books including Controller and CFO’s Guide to Accounts Payable. She serves as the editorial director of Accounts Payable Now & Tomorrow, where she also plans Webinars and one-day seminars. She leads the organization’s accounts payable consulting endeavors, including services focusing on duplicate payments and master vendor files.