If you use Excel for your consolidation, these webinar highlights are for you. In a recent webinar, Jette Thelin highlighted the possibilities and limitations of Excel for group consolidation. Despite finance professionals’ love for Excel, the tool can become frustrating when the group structure complexity reaches its limits. 

PwC Norway recently released its Consolidation Report 2023, further highlighting the importance of automating consolidation and streamlining reporting for groups. You can read the report here and see how they divide the software available into complexity and size (Note that the article is in Norwegian). 

What you will get out of reading these key webinar takeaways:

  • A little bit about finance’s love of Excel – why all accountants love Excel.
  • An insight into the many other possibilities within consolidation for finance.
  • Where Konsolidator fits within the solutions available

All finance people love Excel – it is easy to understand why

As a finance professional, how you attack this task of automating and streamlining your consolidation process is individual. But one way that is not automation is staying in Excel. And before you come up with all your excellent reasons for keeping Excel, know that WE ALL love Excel in finance – and that we do not question your skill level. No, what we question is the opportunities you miss by staying in software that demands, frankly, too much time. A time-use that will only increase as your company grows in size and complexity – and your time is valuable.

In the webinar, Jette, former CFO and finance manager, shared her love and, well, her “less love’ of Excel. Especially when the company becomes dependent on a too-complex spreadsheet. Working in finance and management, Jette has experienced many of the same challenges you see within your finance departments today. Furthermore, she has focused on finding the right tools to solve them.

“I have worked extensively with Lean, looking for the right tools to digitalize the finance functions. And, yeah, that has been great and very exciting, but I also know there are always many projects within a finance department.”

To stay or not to stay… in Excel

It is easy to understand why finance professionals love Excel; Excel is excellent for sorting your data alone due to its flexibility, and it is comforting to work in something you are used to and know:

  • can do your calculations.
  • can make your diagrams that fit into an Excel presentation.
  • the formulas are already built in Excel, but you also can make your own 
  • already is a part of your Microsoft license.

However, when its flexibility and your skills reach their limits, it becomes frustrating to work in. Therefore, these two should be your key indicators of when to stop. Don’t continue to build it bigger – you risk making it so complicated it requires too much of your time. Stop when:

  • It takes time to make the calculations.
  • It crashes, maybe because your Excel sheet is too big
  • You start finding broken links, errors, or wrong formulas.
  • You can not work with more versions of data.
  • And even more critical, your entire finance team depends on the person who created the sheet.

But if you still believe the love outweighs the negativity and want a clear cut for when you should move on from your beloved spreadsheet.

Example: When group structure’s complexity soon is too big for excel

Below is an example of a complex group structure too complex for the beloved spreadsheet. With subgroups, and multiple eliminations, this example is not for Excel; it is too advanced, with too many layers.

Overview of the different consolidation possibilities

If you are considering automating your consolidation process, there are multiple possibilities outside of Excel, even though Excel is still one way to do it. In the image, you can see five, including Excel; let’s look at them and their strengths and weaknesses:

Excel – most manual solution

Now we have talked about when you should move away from Excel. But it doesn’t mean it cannot be used for consolidation, especially when you are a very small group, but it has limitations. We define a small group with less than five entities and a simple structure. 

Excel is very tailored, as you have created the entire spreadsheet from scratch and are probably the only one who dares to edit it. For a small group with no complex structure and in-house Excel skills, you can build it.

On the accounting level, it is not made for proper accounting, mainly because you cannot do postings – you cannot do regular finance, but of course, you can show data and calculate it. However, when your complexity increases, the skill level it requires becomes exceptionally high, especially if you want to create a more flexible and error-free working document.

ERP – aggregating your numbers

Then there is the ERP (accounting) system. If your entire group uses the same system and you have no complexity, ERP is a possibility. It can be on-prem (tailored) or cloud (standardized). Compared to Excel, it will remove time spent on maintaining a spreadsheet. However, it aggregates the figures instead of doing proper accounting. Proper accounting is where you get help to do consolidation-specific automated calculations, like minorities, repostings, exchange rates, adjusting journal entries, and eliminations. And you will need to keep an eye out for if it can create a cash flow and budget.

But the great thing about ERP solutions is that many have cloud versions, which are very easy to integrate with other consolidation solutions.

Bi solutions – grouping and analyzing numbers

Bi solutions can also be good if you consolidate small groups. However, Bi solutions are great for analyzing figures and most useful within sales and its data. It is a really fascinating solution when you want insight into all the costs related to, e.g., sales because it updates your figures daily, so you get it quickly.

It is still closer to aggregation than proper consolidation. And you build up your Bi against Excel. So again, it requires advanced Excel knowledge to finalize your consolidation.

The three we just mentioned are all fine in their own way, but if you go with them, it’s essential that you look into your group and see what it needs – and you do not choose them just because you know them.

CPM – the big guy

We all know the larger legacy CPM systems, which have been on the market for years. An excellent consolidation solution for huge groups to help streamline consolidation data with a high level of complexity. If your group is often too big for regular solutions, you buy the CPM systems, most commonly built on-prem and customized to your needs. Today, you can also find a few cloud versions. However, both on-prem and cloud require experts to manage its functionalities due to CPM’s complexity and possibilities. For example, added functionalities include budget/planning solutions.

An excellent tool that can do proper consolidation but is very consultant-driven. As these legacy solutions target large and complex groups, they can be a bit complex to use, but again it depends on the complexity of your group’s consolidation.

Konsolidator – the standardizer

Our solution, Konsolidator, is another way to do consolidation. If you are too big and advanced for Excel but still too small to buy the legacy software – then Konsolidator might be something.

Konsolidator is standardized and flexible software for small- or medium-growth companies. It means that it’s 100% cloud. You can create companies and users without requiring help from external consultants. What you get is what you need to do a proper consolidation: as simple to use as Excel, you get streamlined data for your group, and you do not depend on one person.

This software is built for consolidation and nothing else. Integrating it with users’ already existing accounting software is simple – thereby creating a complete data flow.


In conclusion, if you are a finance professional looking to automate and streamline your consolidation process, many options are available outside of Excel. While Excel may be a beloved tool for many accountants, its limitations can become frustrating and time-consuming as your company grows in size and complexity. By considering other options, you can improve accuracy, reduce errors, and free up valuable time for more strategic tasks. Options such as cloud ERP systems, BI solutions, or specialized consolidation software like Konsolidator.

The five consolidation solutions presented in the webinar were Excel, ERP, BI, CPM, and Konsolidator. Excel is the most manual solution requiring advanced flexibility skills and error-free working documents. ERP is suitable for groups all using the same accounting software with no complexity and standardizes the consolidation process. BI is ideal for analyzing and grouping figures but is closer to aggregation than proper consolidation. CPM solutions have a way higher price but offer more comprehensive consolidation features than ERP. Konsolidator is an easy-to-use and cost-effective solution that provides the functionality of a CPM.

You can read more about our software here or book a 1o-minutes discovery call

Data flows across your company and presents a massive opportunity for your company. However, you will miss this opportunity if you do not structure it into information and analyze it to develop insights. Decisions will be less data-driven, and you are almost guaranteed to create less value. We are not just talking about financial data but even non-financial data. Why? Because non-financial data is the leading indicator for financial data. Hence, more useful for decision-making.

Too often, data ownership is spread across many departments and stored in multiple systems. Rarely it interconnects. Instead, it gets analyzed in silos, providing each department with only parts of the puzzle. There can be no doubt that this leads to sub-optimal decision-making and must be changed.

The solution? Make Finance the master of all data in your company and put Finance in charge of analysis across the entire value chain. Sounds radical? It is not, and it will free up time for other functions to do what they do best. Let us explore further what it would take to make it happen and address some challenges.

The power of connected data

To understand what it would look like we need look no further than to our value chain. Even from a generic perspective we can map what data is generated in each part of the value chain. Then all we need to understand is where the data is currently stored, how it is generated, and how it can be connected.

There are many different options for storage, generation, and connection. Below are mentioned a few of them.


  • Local hard drives
  • On-premises servers
  • Cloud


  • Manual input after the fact
  • Generation at source in an automated flow


  • Data dump in Excel
  • Data lake
  • Directly between systems through API

The most optimal combination would be data generated at the source, stored in the cloud, and systems connected through APIs. However, few companies have this luxury, although newly started companies are mostly born this way.

The challenge for most companies is that they struggle with legacy (ERP) systems that do not easily connect to bolt-on systems. This makes any change or system integration costly and cumbersome to do. To overcome this, they most likely need to dismantle the legacy systems and use a modern ERP system or a best-of-breed approach. In either case, systems must be able to interact with each other to create a seamless flow of data that is connected and ready to use.

Weapons of mass value creation

With the proper setup from generation through connectivity, you have unlocked a massive potential for value creation. Having one owner ensures you have one set of numbers, whether financial or non-financial. That said, you can make data available as self-service to everyone in the organization.

One of the primary users, though, figures to be the finance business partners. They should view value chain data and develop insights to help business stakeholders make better decisions. In addition, they should help their stakeholders deep-dive into the numbers that are specific to their function. If data is disconnected and fragmented, the business partner spends most of the time gathering, structuring, and analyzing the data. Then there is little time to use the data to improve decision-making. Therefore making Finance the Master of Data makes a lot of sense. The question is, who is the master of the data in your company, and does it lead to optimal decision-making?

The question is, who is the master of the data in your company, and does it lead to optimal decision-making?

Please read our guide on Finance Business Partnering, co-written with Co-founder of The business partnering Institute Anders Liu-Lindberg. 


Have you ever presented your group’s financial report to the C-suite and then realized an error in the numbers? If yes, you know why and where there is a potential in trying to move away from Excel.

One area where saving time is easy is the consolidation process. But finding a single system to handle all aspects of group reporting while keeping up with regulations is challenging and expensive. Especially if you are a small or medium-sized group, but it doesn’t have to be the case.

But first things, first – do you even need to automate your consolidation?

Consolidation software – a must-have or nice to have?

Whether consolidation software is a must-have or a nice-to-have depends on the specific group and its complexity. There are different ways to figure out if that group is you. One way is to download this checklist and see if you have outgrown Excel.

Another one is the old-school advice, sit down, bring out a paper and create an overview of how complex and time-consuming your Group reporting, like the consolidation, really is. Often you will find that the actual time you are using expand what you believe. Especially when you look at, e.g., the time you collect data from subsidiaries, the error tracking you do after every review, and so on – in the end, it is rarely the reporting but the surrounding factors which take up much time. And this can be because you are not using the right tools. And this can be because you are not using the right tools.

Returning to the question of must-have or nice-to-have depends on complexity and time-wasting. The question is: do you need time for other value-adding tasks? If yes, you should at least investigate if the software can give you what you are missing.

Why Konsolidator would be a fit for you

Konsolidator – is an add-on for you who want to do a proper consolidation for your group within minutes.  Instead of finding an all-in-one solution, an add-on integrates with the cloud ERP system you are already using, whether it might be Xero, Sage, e-conomic, QuickBooks, or another Cloud ERP system.

At Konsolidator, we are very excited that our integration with Xero and other cloud accounting software have made group reporting super easy for you. Setup is done in five easy steps. Then you can automate the transfer of trial balances from your Cloud ERP and calculate your consolidation directly from one system within minutes.  You will save time by going from manually collecting data from subsidiaries and handling your consolidation in Excel to automatically transferring data and calculating exchange rates, intercompany eliminations, minority shares, and so much more by connecting Xero and Konsolidator. You can also create budget, cash flow statements, and KPIs for the Group inside Konsolidator. And download the group report to the pre-built templates within the software. Choosing the best consolidation software for Xero is quite easy with our new direct integration. And even better, you can test the software and see for yourself without commitment.

5 easy steps to integrate with Konsolidator

With only 5 steps, you can test if Konsolidator is the best consolidation software for you to streamline and simplify your consolidation process.

  • 1. step: Sign up
  • 2. step: Fill out the group structure (you receive the template)
  • 3. step: Log in and connect Konsolidator to your Accounting System
  • 4. Step: Test Konsolidator and do a consolidation (14 days)
  • 5. Step: Subscribe and continue to use the software.


“We want to enable the company to grow faster and improve profitability.” Is that also a goal you can recognize in your group finance department? 

When managing the Group’s finance, the CFO must ensure that funds are always available in detail and have total control over the finances. Here, the Cash Flow statement becomes the proactive CFOs helping hand, as well as the finance controller’s working document. But still, we see too many groups neglect this statement, either ending up with hidden errors or, worse, losing their overview of the company’s working capital because it is perceived to be too complicated. 

Cash flow: the critical indicator

Cash flow is one of the most critical indicators of a business’s performance. With a positive cash flow, the company can meet its obligations promptly without borrowing money. However, problems arise when a company does not have enough money to cover its debts as they become due. While this is normal occasionally, a consistently negative cash flow is a red flag and should immediately alarm management to act. 

If you are honest, how much do you use your cash flow to predict future strategies and improve profitability? Or are you primarily using it ‘just’ as a part of your mandatory reporting and therefore end up cutting corners?

A proactive CFO wants insight into the company’s numbers and effectiveness to enhance the overall company profitability and strategy. It is here that knowing your cash flow, where to put a lid on costs, and following up on debitors becomes an excellent source for the strategic CFO. It makes it possible to look into areas that will result in increased liquidity for the entire Group and subsidiaries, like: 

  • Pricing strategies
  • Collections 
  • Markets
  • Payment terms
  • Budgeting and forecast

Furthermore, maintaining a steady cash flow puts your business in a stronger position to grow revenue. A good Cash reserve enables you to expand into markets, innovate your product offers or hire new people. 

Don’t cut corners in your cash flow

At Konsolidator, we talk with many group finance teams of all sizes and complexities. In our experience, it is rarely because the CFO or the finance controller doesn’t understand the value of Cash Flow, but because of its reputation as complex. To be fair, it is complicated if you have never done it before. But that doesn’t mean that it is not worth learning. It is an excellent controlling aspect where you catch mistakes you don’t see by just looking at your statement. This alone should be a reason for groups to stop cutting corners. Whether you are a small or large group, don’t fall into these two common reasons for neglecting your cash flow: 

Small- and medium-sized groups

Small- and medium-sized groups might be inclined to say it is easier to look at their bank account than to learn to do it properly. And in many instances, it is true; it is easier. However, not doing it regularly and delaying learning puts your company at greater risk in uncertain times. And as a small company, the consequences can be massive. Furthermore, what is easier, is to create a cash flow statement for a small group compared to a larger one. So, if you are planning to grow, why wait until it gets really complicated? 

Large groups

Large groups tend to only create a Cash Flow Statement on the parent company, resulting in no deep insight into the subsidiaries’ cash movement details. It is almost impossible to avoid errors if you skip creating a cash flow on the subsidiaries before consolidating them. And we see this regularly. Alone for the compliance and controlling aspects, the Group should have a more thorough Cash Flow process. 

Whether the size of the Group, balancing your in- and outflows of cash will ensure a smoother day-to-day running of your business while building sufficient reserves to stand against harder times. Additionally, by not making common mistakes, you maintain an overview of the development of Working Capital, including actual numbers, budget, and forecast. 

Fx adjustments – a troublemaker for correct numbers in your Cash Flow 

Something we often see becoming a trouble maker for the Group that wants to deliver correct numbers is how they translate Cash Flow from local currency to group currency. The common challenge is that many groups do not use debit/credit to calculate cash flow. Instead, when calculating, e.g., inventory, they apply one exchange rate at the beginning of the year and another at the end of the year, not counting for the fluctuation of the foreign currency. As a result, if the inventory started on 100 and ended on 100, the number might still differ because of the two time periods. On the other hand, a debit/credit method will apply the group currency to the difference in the ‘actual’ value of the inventory, in this case, 0. By changing this small part, you can already remove one irregularity in your reporting.

Make Cash Flow a part of your Monthly Reporting. 

If you have ever made a wrong call due to not knowing where your cash was floating out of your Group, then don’t take this habit into your accounting manners. Get started on a good Cash Flow Statement as part of your monthly consolidation. Besides knowing that you deliver a correct cash flow and ensuring compliance with industry and legal standards, there are many reasons to incorporate a monthly Cash Flow statement in your reporting. Thereby, you can quickly determine, for example, why, where, and when your debitors are increasing and fix this ongoingly.  

We recommend using consolidation software to avoid unintendedly making mistakes in your last-minute cash flows and the group spending money they do not yet have. There are many advantages of an actual system vs. a spreadsheet solution, but mainly to ensure correct data flow from all groups and translate your Cash flows into budgets and forecasts for the following year. Even for SMEs, we believe the advantages of using a consolidation system for cash flow outweigh the costs. If you have just a few consolidated entities in your Group, chances are that the cash flow is not embedded in daily routines.

If we can help or advise you with a practical walk-through of how to set up and read the cash flow on every level of your Group, we would love to help you get started. 

Contact us for an honest talk with our team of group finance professionals who will give you excellent and practical advice. 

Claus Finderup Grove, CEO at Konsolidator 

What is the most common problem with multiple exchange rate methodologies across your group? One abundantly clear answer is deviations in your spreadsheet. And the risk with Excel is that you might not altogether prevent it. Still, you can create a consistent procedure for managing currency translations across your group and eliminate common errors. As we all know:

Deviations in results are not something you, our management, or the board of directors are interested in seeing.

But how do you avoid deviations when talking about forever fluctuating exchange rates?

What methodologies do you use across your group?

By definition, exchange rates fluctuate, which is why most finance departments have one method they use. But if we ask you which currency translation method all your subsidiaries use, are you able to tell with 100% certainty?

As finance professionals, we do not go to the same school, have the same management demands, or learn the same way. Consequently, a point that is often very clear when we talk about excel – we all have one way of managing the spreadsheet. It is the same with the typical lack of control over the exchange rate methodologies used across your group. Furthermore, most groups have subsidiaries in various countries but not a standardized way of managing currency translations across your group. Instead, some use:

  • A monthly mean
  • The rate on the last day of the month
  • The rate on the day you forward the numbers to the report

In a world where we are dependent on accurate numbers, we cannot use error-filled reports. And this is what creates the urgency: Lack of standardization, especially when managing multiple Excel spreadsheets, will lead to deviations and inaccuracies in your group reporting.

2-steps-approach for multiple currencies without deviations in Excel

Creating a consistent and standardized process for translating exchange rates isn’t complicated if you know how. Therefore, we have created a guide on the exact topic. If you struggle with managing currency translations in Excel for your whole group. Then you will learn efficient ways to solve deviations in your Excel reporting and ultimately achieve accurate group reporting with exchange rates. The guide outlines how to streamline working methods across your group for more efficient and precise group reporting.

DOWNLOAD OUR GUIDE HERE: Build a consistent standard for managing exchange rates in two steps

Or use automation to make it even more straightforward to translate the exchange rates.

The most simple approach to translating exchange rates is to automate repetitive tasks. Companies with an automated and standardized way across ALL subsidiaries can handle the exchange rates more efficiently, like the Danish Group Carl Hansen & Son, which you can read here.

Combine, collect, prepare, present

the correct process of controlling and sorting relevant data in Finance

How do you ensure that your management report contains the correct information and clearly communicates the story your data is telling you? And how do you make a report impactful and straightforward, but not so simple or misdirected that people hunt for insights?

One vital part is to ensure you have the proper visual tools to present data to management. However, the full potential of your report is in the process before that.  You must look at the process of controlling and sorting the relevant data first. It is all about establishing what data is required to tell the most impactful story making your management reports stand out. 

The bottom line, before you investigate tools to support your data flow, ensure that you have a transparent process for how you handle these four critical parts of the data journey; Combine, Collect, Prepare, Present.


  • Access and automate data flow
  • Use all internal data
  • Connect data systems from all departments

How you combine data to strengthen the credibility

The first step first: combine and prepare the data flow. And when we say combine, we mean: Exploit all data in the organization and challenge the way you combine data right now. Crucial data storytelling comes from internal data, making it unique and original. By combining data from other departments like HR, you can find relationships and trends in numbers you have overlooked. And you might find the connection between what went well and what went wrong. Those who understand navigating the difference between strategic and operational data will perform well. And more importantly, you know it comes from a credible source, making it more impactful. 

In Finance, the report is not better than the available data. And we generate an enormous amount in all parts of the business. If we mix that with the number of digital solutions available today, you can access all the data you need – and as a result, create more influential reports. So next time you collect data, e.g., from your ERP system, you need to look at two things: 

  • Is your data flow working and automated?  
  • Do you have access to all the data you need? 

It is also easier to get more data and compare, e.g., numbers from the sales department if you automate processes. We can talk forever about the importance of automatizing as much as possible of your data flow. But that will take up too much space. Instead, get an overview of why data integration is essential here.


  • Don’t get stuck on finance KPIs
  • Collect data to support strategic decisions
  • Be specific when collecting data, but get it from every angle to support the success criteria

How you collect data and gain a competitive edge

The numbers you collect in your financial report will tell the best story the company can. But the key is to remember: it is all about the eyes that see. What makes sense for you might not make sense as quickly for everyone in the top management if it does not relate to what they are looking at, namely the strategy. So, step two means collecting relevant data for the people reading it. Consider:

  • Is this relevant to management and the company’s KPI?
  • Does it solve current challenges or provide further knowledge, e.g., tapping into a new market?
  • Is this the same data they have seen before? 

Management Reporting must be closely related to the strategy. And, more importantly, help the board make long-term decision-making. And still, only 24% of finance departments link their KPIs to those from the company strategy, according to PwC. Why? Because it isn’t until recently that we have seen the impact companies can have when the finance departments become involved in high-level decision-making. But it is here you can make a difference and give your company a competitive edge. So, ask yourself: 

  • Does my report reflect the strategy, including goals like new markets?
  • What are the success criteria, market shares, growth in revenue, new customers, etc.? 
  • Am I providing feedback to existing KPIs, and do they need changes? 

Your KPIs should move away from Finance specific and towards what you can do to support strategy. As a bonus, this will also help ensure your forecast planning focuses on these specific targets, e.g., how much revenue do we have to get before 31/12/2022?

If you have the data flow from all departments mentioned in the section above, your knowledge of numbers can turn your data into an easily digestible story. Make sure that the numbers collected speak to people so that they understand and provide as much context as possible. 

Creating compelling data storytelling in your report doesn’t mean telling whatever story you want. It means you collect relevant data related to the people who will read it.  

Prepare_data flow_connection


  • Investigate data relationships
  • Use digital solutions to combine data
  • Be clear in your data story, no data use that doesn’t relate to the KPI’s


The third step to deliver a visual, comprehensive, and compelling financial report comes from how you prepare data. A convincing financial report ensures that the right and necessary information is available to the board to create direction for the strategic goals, etc., both on a strategic and operational level. We can all agree that all the information is essential in the reporting. But how do you ensure that the information you give is relevant and correct? 

Understanding what type of data relationships to look for helps you find those stories faster. Here is why we argue automation and digital solutions are essential when you combine data. Here Konsolidator is an example of how a simple cloud tool prepares numbers for financial consolidation.

 Because good data stories often come from more than just the numbers; they come from the relationships in data. When you combine data from across the business with the strategic goals, you begin to see how the numbers relate to each other.

Present_data story


  • Know how you want to visualize it, before transforming data
  • Don’t overload with charts, revisit the strategy.
  • Research templates e.g. Power BI

How you present data in the most digestible way

Before you even think of transforming your data into a visual report, you should know how you want it visualized.   

If you know how and what to present, all your future processes and reports will be easier. It is not because we do not recognize the time it takes to set it up or develop a new template when we say easy. But because the alternative of sharing unclear or irrelevant information that the reader can misunderstand will get way more complicated. Including data that seems manipulated. And in the end – it will take up more time for the finance professionals than implementing visualization tools, standards, and processes. 

You do not need to overload people with charts to make it understandable. Just revisit the strategy angle when you think of how to present the data. You need to visualize the success factors that ensure the upcoming strategy will succeed or look at elements that aren’t growing. Look at your data relationships for these KPIs. 

Knowing what to present and how to do it will help you use your data visualization tool. If you want to know more about how software like Power BI can enhance your data’s appeal, understanding, and influence, read here. For the format, you can also find great templates, which can assist you in presenting the data in the most optimized and accurate form.

Simple steps for a smooth month-end close: Meet your deadlines and avoid time pressures

If you are feeling the pressure of deadlines every month when doing the month-end close, it is probably because you don’t have the right procedure. When you stress about the month-end close, you don’t have time to dive deep into your data or deliver in-depth financial insights for your management or board.

If this monthly routine sounds familiar, this is the guide for you!

Here we have gathered expert advice from CFOs & Financial Controllers on how to optimize your month-end close working process. A few simple steps can turn the month-end close from a hassle to an easy, quick reporting process where your gain time for highlighting interesting results to management.

First things first – let us look at the root of your problem and why month-end close is often stressful.

The month-end close pressure in a nutshell

Month-end close is a reoccurring event for finance professionals, so why does it always seem like the finance department is pressed for time with this task?

The answer to this question lies within the way finance professionals work today. We must start thinking differently about our workflows. The way you build up your workflow is a part of the solution to avoid a stressed process when making the month-end close.

The number one reason that you and your team might be pressed for time when doing the month-end close can be because you’re waiting until the end of the month to start. Instead of preparing things for the month-end close throughout the month, you are doing everything at the end of the month.

Of course, you can only do some things at the end of the month. As a Financial Controller or Finance Manager you can only begin your work once the bookkeeper has done his or her part and all balances are ready. However, if you have most things ready before you can pull the balances, you can avoid the time pressure.

There are so many things you can do beforehand to speed up the reporting process. For instance, you can:

  • Prepare the management reports
  • Write to subsidiaries if there will be any significant changes
  • Make sure your tools for analyzing are updated

Being prepared ahead of time requires a procedure for how you are doing your month-end close. Perhaps you already have a procedure today, but then ask yourself: “Is it working the best way possible?”

If your answer is not a clear and resounding “YES”, then now is the time to build a better procedure.

To help you build an optimal monthly reporting process, we lay out 3 foundational steps for building a new and improved month-end close process.

If you take the steps below into account in your future monthly reporting the month-end close will be an easy task to fulfill where time pressure is not a big issue.

3 steps towards a month-end close with no time pressure

1. Create a solid preparation plan:

The most important thing to do to avoid time pressure when doing the monthly reporting in a group is to make sure you have a plan for the entire procedure so that everyone within the team knows what their tasks and deadlines are. Everyone needs to be onboard on this plan, so it is vital that you create a timeline that shows exactly when tasks should begin, time estimates for completion, and deadlines for each task. Deadlines are a crucial tool to avoid stress and time pressure since this is the foundation and the framework of good preparation. Get as much done in advance so that you will only need to wrap up the monthly report with the latest result rather than to start from scratch on the month-end close at the end of the month.

2. Automate manual tasks:

Consider automating some manual processes in your workflow. If you have software and systems in place that can take relieve your workload, you are guaranteed faster, simpler, and more accurate monthly reporting. For example, suppose you have an invoice system for approving expenses or software for doing financial consolidation automatically; these will improve your work quality, ease your workload, and give you more time. With additional time, you can dive into your data and find key results that you would like to explain to the management, thereby helping them to understand the business better and improve decision-making for the entire group.  

3. Get the right employees in place:

Finally, it is important that you put the right players into the right places. Having a solid plan for preparing the month-end close and the most modern finance software does not help you if you don’t have the right employees in place.

Make sure that you have a team that covers the different skills needed for the reporting procedure. Not everyone has to be tech-savvy or good at handling financial consolidation or minority interests. However, everyone needs to be skilled at an aspect of reporting to contribute to the final result. Last but not least, it is crucial that everyone within the team is on board the month-end procedure, so there’s no stalling by someone who has a different agenda. Everyone within the team should agree with the entire process of doing the month-end close. Don’t just assume that the team understands the procedure the same way but make sure you communicate the procedure explicitly, so everyone is on the same page.

Now, all that’s left for you to do is implement these changes in your workflow and procedure for the month-end close. Changing methods, routines, and behavior is not always easy. However, it can be if you utilize basic knowledge of human behavior and the triggers that make us take action outside of our normal routine. In professional terms, it is called nudging.

How nudging can help you to implement your optimized month-end procedure

Nudging is well known in the sales and marketing business but can be used in any situation where you like to see a behavioral change from your coworkers and employees. For example, when you want to implement a new working process or reporting procedure.

The concept of nudging covers the cognitive and psychological method of successfully and quickly creating a change in certain behavior. Nudging means guidance and ensures the right decision is an easy one to make. The technique is based on human instinct. So, when guiding your colleagues to make the right decision – like deciding to follow a new monthly reporting procedure, you should consider how to make the right decision the easy one to choose.

When wanting to implement new methods and routines into the finance department be aware of the daily routines in your finance function today and learn from these. Look at how you can ensure that any new procedure integrates well with existing ones and consider how you can optimize the routines you already have at place in your finance department.

Learn more about how you optimize your monthly reporting here.

Lianne Gatti, Country Manager for UKI, Konsolidator 

A case of how to work smarter with RPA: What to avoid and how to do it.

How to easily automate some of the more repetitive and tedious tasks in the daily workflow at your finance department?

It is a question most CFOs and Finance Managers should consider today since the role of the entire finance function and finance professionals is changing with the increased digitization of companies worldwide. Slowly we are moving away from CFOs and Finance Managers just being number crunchers, working behind the scenes. Instead, finance professionals will collect data not behind the desk but out in the organization. Robotics Process Automation (RPA) is interesting from this point of view.

But what should you be aware of when implementing RPA, what specific challenges can it help you overcome, and how to use RPA as intelligently as possible in the finance function?

Nordic Transport Group (NTG) gives its take on this. In this blog post, you will learn how NTG uses RPA daily to improve its financial reporting. Read on to hear more about NTG’s learnings and experiences implementing RPA into the finance function. 

Let RPA help you focus on the value-adding tasks.

Companies and employees have never been busier than they are today, and likewise, the volumes of data are exploding. To meet the increasing demand for financial advice, which can help management make the best decisions possible, finance professionals have to go out and talk to people in the organization to gather data and produce much-needed in-depth financial insights.

Influencing decision-making is going to be the primary job of finance professionals soon. RPA can be an intelligent solution to allocate time to financial insights, in-depth financial analysis, and advising management.

Implementing RPA has proven to create a more efficient workflow, minimize errors and save time which can be used for more cognitive and creating demanding tasks. Nordic Transport Group (NTG) has implemented RPA in its finance department and has gained some valuable experience in precisely this area. Here is their view on RPA and the finance professional’s role:

“We have time to enter professionally interesting dialogues and take on the tasks that we find fun and professionally challenging. Our employees can use their professional skills and education and not get bored by performing administrative tasks – these are simply automated with RPA.”

Morten Wied, Head of Group Finance at NTG.

The purpose of RPA is to minimize the manual work employees do daily, which is what NTG has used RPA for – automated and replaced those with robotics.

The do’s and don’ts of RPA 

NTG began from scratch when implementing RPA in the finance department. Due to this, they know what to do and what not to do. They also know how to get started. The team began by picking the low-hanging fruits, and from then on, it went fast with implementing RPA in the rest of the reporting processes due to the agility of RPA.

A huge part of implementing RPA in your finance function is about having the right people and creating a culture with the right mindset for RPA. That is not made overnight but takes time and is a part of a process that, in the long run, will benefit not only your finance function but your entire business in terms of reducing errors and time spent on manual, repetitive, tedious tasks. 

The financial team at NTG met challenges when they tried to push RPA solutions down over tasks not suited for RPA.

How to avoid this? You might think – fear not.

It is a mistake that is easy to avoid. NTG has an employee dedicated to RPA optimization. Giving one employee the task of creating a pipeline, managing, and facilitating these RPA projects, has proven beneficial to NTG. They have seen some great results due to this factor.

To help you, here are some points to what RPA is especially suited for:

  • Tasks that are based on a set of rules and contain digitally stored data
  • Data-heavy processes with a high manual error rate involving many systems/people/steps are tailored for robots.

As an example, RPA is very compliant with assignments such as:

  • Checking and posting supplier invoices, uploading bank deposit files to your ERP system, and handling credit notes.
  • Uploading trial balances from multiple companies within your corporate group to a consolidation or reporting tool.

How to use RPA to work smarter in the finance function

Implementing RPA in the finance department at NTG means that the financial team has saved time on critical calculations and accounts. Before, it took the team three weeks to make these unique figures. Now, due to RPA, it takes 1,5 working days. RPA has created value in NTG’s finance department, saving time on manual administrative tasks and applying this time to other value-adding tasks.

Where RPA really helps NTG is the connection between software and systems. For instance, if the finance team needs to reconcile a trial balance in a certain way, NTG gets the robot to do the work instead of manually typing everything in. To give an idea of what kind of specific tasks you can let a robot do instead of an employee, here is an example: NTG has a robot preparing and updating controller reports in their reporting system Konsolidator Konnect every month. At NTG, robotics saves them valuable time during their busy periods.

“It is just like going from using a manual screwdriver to using an electric screwdriver, making the tasks easier, faster, and more painless to handle. It simplifies the task for our finance business partners so they can create value by providing insights based on the report instead of pulling it from the system manually.” 

Morten Wied.

RPA has removed the peak load from the monthly closure at the finance department at NTG. In taking the pressure, NTG can keep their team at a number that makes sense when the department is less busy.

Join our webinar Robotic Process Automation In the Finance Function.”

There is no doubt that NTG has stepped up its game in the finance department and developed a more efficient, streamlined, standardized workflow thanks to RPA. The agility that RPA brings to the table has enabled NTG to work smarter and improve several processes. It allows the team to focus on value-adding tasks such as delivering crucial financial insights to management.

Do you want to learn more about RPA and how it can help you work smarter to prepare for the future role of finance professionals?


What business skills do finance professionals need today?

What is on the CFO agenda today, and how will it shape your role as a finance professional moving forward? 
The questions are many right now as the role of the CFO and the finance team is changing and as the change is happening at a fast speed.

In short, the finance function is expected to play a much more dynamic role in driving both innovation and strategic decisions – this undoubtedly calls for new skills and new ways of thinking. And to support this new technology is the answer. It is the answer to becoming more innovative, but it is also the answer to becoming more strategic.

You can compare the technological changes we see in finance to the technological development we have seen in the music industry.  

In the music industry we moved from LPs to CDs, iPods and MP3 players to now streaming music on our smartphones though only streaming services. The change (that happened gradually in the music industry) is the same we see in finance today. The only difference is that it took around 20 years for the music industry to evolve into where the business is at today. So, within the music business employees were able to adjust to each change and step little by little. 

When looking at finance the change – is happening much faster.
There is nothing gradual about it.

How do you make sure you are keeping up to speed and staying relevant within the new finance department? 

The speed of change can be quite daunting. Not only is the change happening quickly but you as a professional, your skills and competencies must evolve at the same paceThe finance team is relied upon as a trusted business partner. It is crucial that the leading management knows if they are making the right decisions on behalf of the entire organization. That is why they need the finance team to produce and present financial insights that validates what the next move should be for the business.  

The finance department is as a result becoming drivers of data drive decision making. It is no longer enough to sit behind your desk and crunch numbers all day long. You have to present insights, thoughts, rational thinking, and conclusions which the leading business management can relate to and use for decision making.

To produce what your management need and to stay relevant when the technological wave hits the finance department, you will need to get out of your comfort zone as a traditional CFO or finance professional. 

How does the classic profile of a finance professional align with the new requirements? 

To understand how you step outside of your comfort zone let us first take a look at how the traditional profile of a finance professional looks like. 

For this we have looked into the personality test tool Predictive Index that we use to understand both how we put together people and teams to understand specifically what drives behaviors at work. 

After a thorough analysis of millions of Behavioral Assessments, the predictive index science team has identified 17 “Reference Profiles” that create a behavioral map for different types of people. 

The classic profile that we see in finance professionals is the profile called the Craftsman.
The Craftsman has a high set of analytical skills, loves to produce precise data, is detail oriented, loves control, and to has a steady and comfortable way of working.  

But to accommodate the changes we are now seeing occurring we also see the skillset of the finance professional starts to shift towards the Captain profile.  

The Captain profile is a problem solver, likes changes and innovation while controlling the big picture. This profile still needs to be analytical, but also needs to understand how to be interactive with the wider business and deliver insights into the organization.  

To better understand how you can be an asset to your business here are some steps you have to keep in mind for changing the way you think and work as a finance professional today. 

To become the finance professional of tomorrow (the captain) you need to: 

  1. Get out of the reactive mindset of finance and start to be more proactive in your thinking. 
  2. Report on what is happening (or what might happen)rather than just reporting on what has happened.  
  3. Deliver insights, not reports. Insights is when you have information which your leading managers does not know about, but which can help them make better decisions. Reports is loads of columns with numbers in. You need to know the difference. 

You have to move from spending most of your time on accounting and reporting, data and transactions (and it is here new technology comes into play to support you) to spending more time on insights and influence, analyzing and forecasting. Data, reports and analysis are important because you cannot be a finance business partner without the numbers and the data to back up your insights.
But where 
you can really make a difference is when you share these insights, make recommendations, and influence the management’s decisions so they make better decisions and execute better. 

As with any other major changes you can do it all over night, it all starts with micro steps. The idea is that you break your plan into minor bits and create sub goals and implement micro steps of the week, so you see a result little by little and not just at the finish line after two- or three-years’ time. Not to see any progress can be very demotivating so break it down into so small bits, so you can see yourself moving closer to the overall goal. 

Have you ever tried to implement a new digital system or tool in your finance department?

Then you know how difficult it can be for your colleagues to adapt to using a new system, new procedures, and new habits.

To digitally implement a new tool is one thing but implementing it in everyday life at the office and getting your colleagues to use it is a completely different story.

When looking at the adaptation aspect of digitization in the finance function, nudging becomes an interesting method to consider.

If you want to know how you can accelerate digital transformation in your finance department and successfully implement new software tools, this blog is for you!

Nudging in a nutshell

Before we start explaining how to use nudging for accelerating your digital development, let us first explain what nudging means.

The term nudging covers the cognitive and psychological method of successfully and quickly creating a change in certain behavior. Nudging means guidance: Just like an elephant mother uses her trunk to guide her young calf to go in the right direction, communication and design can guide humans to make the right decisions.

Nudging originates from a political arena and is a way of defining our surroundings. It is a method for you to make measurable changes in people’s behavior within a certain group or area.

It is all about ensuring the right decision is an easy one to make. Let us look at the cognitive way to achieve this goal.

How to accelerate behavioral change in your department

When trying to implement new elements, systems, or procedures to the workflow, it’s imperative to get your employees on board with your idea of doing things smarter.

But it can be hard to adjust to new methods since we humans are very comfortable beings and like to do things as we have always done them. Thus, changing habits is a tough task.

To be able to change behavior, we need to look at how the human brain works. The human way of thinking is divided into two systems.

System 1:

  • System 1 is used 90% of the time.
  • System 1 requires no conscious consideration; you can almost say it is an autopilot system for the brain that relies on habits.
  • System 1 is the system we use when we quickly determine if an object is close or far away, if we have to answer to what 2+2 is, or when we react instantly to a terrifying photo or film.

System 2:

  • System 2 is used 10% of the time.
  • System 2 requires conscious consideration; you focus and concentrate a lot on the task at hand when thinking in system 2. Using your brain this way requires a lot of energy from you since you cannot rely on habits to solve this task. This is also why you cannot be thinking too long in system 2. Eventually, you will be drained of energy and need to recharge.
  • System 2 is the system we use when we have to come up with creative solutions to a problem.

In summary, to accelerate behavioral change towards digitization in your finance function, you need to communicate to your employees’ and colleagues’ system 1. It will make it easy for them to act and change behavior, opposed to if you communicate to system 2 which demands too much of the human brain to adapt to new work methods.

Implement guides and clues towards behavioral change into your daily routine

You should ask yourself: “What are the daily routines? How do we find a tool, develop a new procedure, or create a workflow that integrates well into this routine?”

Once again it is all about understanding that nudging is based on human instinct. So, when guiding your colleagues to make the right decisions, you should consider, how to make the right decision the easy decision to choose.

You can look at what makes your team engaged and how you can use those aspects in every day working life to change behavior, so they will use the new tools instead of going back and do things the old way out of habit. Let’s take the issue of low meeting attendance rates and see how guides put in the daily routine can improve this issue. An easy change to implement is to put in small reminders that will remind your colleagues to attend follow-up meetings. Even the smallest reminders will help support the change of behavior and gradually everyone in your team will adapt to the new working method. When you know how to implement new working methods into the daily routine, it is time to create the communication and design that is in line with what you have observed. It is through these means the real behavioral change is going to happen in your finance department.

To learn more about how to put together the right communication and design for guiding your team towards the right decisions, watch the webinar “How Nudging Can Accelerate Digital Transformation in Finance” today!