Don’t Wing It: Improve Your Processes With Better Controls and Checklists
By Christine Walters, Director, Assurance Services
Doesn’t it feel good to cross off tasks accomplished on a checklist? I have even added completed tasks to checklists just for the joy of crossing them off right away. Apparently my love of checklists is not shared by everyone. When my husband and I go out of town, my mother is less than thrilled when I give her a three-page checklist when she babysits our kids. She would prefer to wing it, and says she remembers raising kids and did just fine back then.
When it comes to running a business, what key processes benefit from standardizing a multi-step process? Checklists are common for month-end close, setting up new vendors and onboarding employees. There are controls in place that you don’t want to forget and you want documentation that you completed each step. If you perform certain steps and controls, take credit for them by documenting them.
Here is an example of a month-end checklist with generic tasks. The tasks are color-coded by person and are only highlighted in the month they are applicable. Each month, you can hide the extra months and only focus on the highlighted tasks. The tasks are organized by what day they should occur in the month-end close process.
Before you jump into color-coding and organizing a checklist based on a current process, you should consider if the process has room for improvement. Of course, there is always room for improvement. Someone who specializes in internal controls can meet with you to understand the process and recommend improvements. The benefit of enlisting a specialist is two-fold:
- Specialists provide suggestions to implement specific controls that reduce the likelihood of errors and fraud
- They can suggest efficiencies to reduce the time it takes to complete the process
What processes at your company can benefit from better controls and organization? Don’t wing it each time—improve your processes and follow the plan consistently. Marcum’s Internal Audit Department is here to help! Contact Christine Walters, Director, Assurance Services.