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It’s hard to believe that summer is in full swing and in just another few weeks we’ll be at the halfway point of 2019! The first quarter of the year focused on getting the financial reporting and tax returns filed for the previous year and the second quarter was spent getting the current year up-to-date. Before we knew it, we were transacting business as usual. Somehow those goals of cleaning up accounting records became long forgotten. But we’re here to remind you not to forget the importance of accounting clean up projects!
It’s vital to get your accounting cleaned up before the year-end activities kick in and this is the perfect time of year to do it. Below are a few accounting projects you may want to consider taking on over the next few months. In the end it will set you up for success come December.
When was the last time you reviewed your record retention policies? If you are like many organizations, you retain hard copies until space runs out, then you look to discard old items. However, this may subject you to added scrutiny when you are unable to produce key documents for your business. The IRS and AICPA have guidelines to help you in formulating your record retention policy. We recommend that you formalize your current policy utilizing both physical and electronic storage. Remember, the goal of record retention is to be able to retrieve key documents in a reasonable period of time and this should be considered as you formalize your policy.
Your accounting records should be locked down for the previous year so no additional changes can be made to the year-end balances. If not done already, you should request a copy of year-end adjusting journal entries and a trial balance report from your accountant. These adjustments need to be recorded in your accounting system and a process needs to be performed in which you are able to lock the period so that additional changes cannot be made. Depending on the accounting system you are using this may be as simple as setting a password for the file. Doing this will provide assurance that you are starting 2019 with accurate balances.
Each year certain adjusting journal entries are recorded such as depreciation/amortization, prepaid expenses, and certain accrual items. Many of these adjustments can be maintained throughout the year to normalize your operating results and to help you to forecast year-end results. Reviewing the year-end adjustments prepared by your staff or an outside accountant is one way of identifying potential standard journal entries to record throughout the year.
It’s always a good idea to take some time to review the chart of accounts you are using to summarize your financial reporting. Are there significant accounts that you have to dig into the details to understand the fluctuations from one period to another? If so, it may be time to create accounts or sub-accounts to appropriately track certain transactions so that you can easily monitor fluctuations.
Do you have accounts set up to handle the record keeping for the various stages of your operating processes? For instance, are you tracking raw materials, work in progress and finished goods? If not, you may want to consider adding accounts and journalizing the flow of the inventory process.
Now is a good time to take an inventory of your outstanding agreements and contracts to identify any key performance requirements that you must meet to stay in compliance with the established terms. Often times, bank financing has compliance requirements such as ratios and bank balance levels that must be met on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. Do you have processes in place to monitor the compliance of these key performance requirements? Routinely performing a review of these requirements will allow you time to make any necessary corrective actions in the event the requirements will not be met.
By being proactive and keeping your accounting organized now, you’ll be in the best position possible when it comes to closing out the year and preparing for taxes next spring. If you have questions or would like assistance with any of these accounting clean up projects, please don’t hesitate to contact Cray Kaiser today!