It’s that time of year for accounting professionals, where it begins to feel like we’re entering a storm of chaos – it’s busy season! Many of us are auditing away at large clients, others are preparing the books for annual reporting and some are dealing with unique projects such as mergers, acquisitions or new pronouncements like ASC 842 – Leases.
Regardless of your role, the culmination of a year’s worth of work can be extremely overwhelming. The activities you manage and the risks you take may be larger than anything you’re normally exposed to.
So, how do you handle it all?
Busy season may be a time of challenges and frustration, but it serves as an opportunity for you to grow as an accounting professional. With this in mind, we need to focus on not only how to handle this time, but how to enhance your skillset and conquer the busy season.
Take a look at the 3 ways to Conquer Busy Season below!
1. Prioritize your tasks.
Prioritizing your responsibilities doesn’t always work by simply listing out all of your tasks and deciding what comes first. We must anticipate unexpected projects and deadlines, and develop a plan that allows you to execute and meet all deadlines, while leaving room to work on lower priority projects as well.
For accounting professionals, a reporting calendar can indicate key deliverables due throughout the close period and allows you to add your own deadlines, too.
In the audit and advisory professions, you’re relying on your client to provide certain input documents to you. Auditors refer to these as PBC (Prepared by Client) documents. During the year-end audit time frame, the PBC should be followed up on once every two days, at the least. The best practice recommended is to have a client contact designated to manage the PBC documents for you, as there are going to be many coming in.
2. Take more risks.
Chances are that the challenges you face during year-end will manifest themselves through gaps in the control environment throughout the year. The best way to excel throughout year-end is to be open to learning and eager to solving these challenges.
Additionally, there can be risk when you take on challenges, and they can leave you exposed. It’s up to you to ensure this exposure is positive. For example, as a staff auditor, you audited Fixed Assets and realized that the impairment controls have failed. It’s imperative that you stay close to this account and the associated processes, since there may be potential losses with write-offs that increase the risk on that account. Similarly, if you are the company accountant who the auditor brought this to, you want to stay close to that account knowing that an auditor will likely find their way back to you more aggressively at year-end.
3. Master the art of conversation.
One of the best methods to help complete projects and meet deadlines is conversation. It’s true that technology and instant messaging have taken over communication, and as a result, we tend to ignore a face-to-face conversation. A practice that I like to encourage is setting up a meeting with your colleagues before January, to discuss projects and due-dates that you share. This is an easy way to have full transparency and allow each other to adequately prepare proper questions and materials ahead of time. Avoid scheduling these meetings last-minute because you may not find availability, which can cost you a deadline or negative exposure.
Additionally, when meeting with individuals, keep in mind that certain accounts can be complex and there may be additional considerations that arise. A great way to avoid missing these special considerations is by having a meeting agenda. An agenda holds both parties accountable and keeps messaging more consistent and organized.
Overall, prioritization and risk-taking are key to growing as an accounting professional. However, real success comes from mastering conversations and building strong connections with the people.
Do you know any other ways to conquer busy season this year? Comment below!