Arun District Council’s annual accounts closedown process had room for improvement according to Alan Smith, Group Accountant, Finance at the local authority. "First, with a spreadsheet-based system, only one user at a time could get access. Second, there was mixed presentation of the financial statements. Different areas of accounts were each using different tables, for example, which made them harder to interpret and understand. And of course we needed to close faster to meet the new end-May deadline."
So when Alan saw a demonstration of the CIPFA Closedown solution (colloquially known as the ‘big red button’) at CIPFA’s annual conference, he was impressed with its potential: "I liked the look of it: it seemed easy to use and professional". Initially, CIPFA helped Alan to begin mapping their accounts into the accounts closedown solution using Arun’s current codes, a process he admits was time-consuming at first.
For Alan and the accounts team, as well as transforming the way it managed the accounts closedown process, the CIPFA solution also adds value: "It saves time and frees up staff to gather evidence for our external auditors. It also introduces an element of ‘self-auditing’: because all the figures feed through automatically, it flags up errors and anomalies early."
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