Chief Accounting Officer POV: How Finance in the Cloud Simplifies Accounting Compliance

As finance professionals, among the most important—and daunting—aspects of our jobs is accounting compliance. Every person on the finance team has a role in maintaining a strong control environment and supporting the audit process. At the same time, the accounting regulatory environment has become much more complex and stringent in recent years. Accounting standards are constantly being revised, and even when there’s considerable lag time before changes take effect, we often spend months or years preparing for those changes.

In my blog series, I’ve focused on corporate finance pain points in my role as chief accounting officer and my discoveries around how a modern, cloud-based finance system can make a difference. This is also true with the job of accounting compliance and audit support.

The finance systems I’ve used in the past often resulted in fragmented compliance processes: while the core system might have supported statutory books, for example, other requirements (such as the documentation of process flows) lived outside the system. As a result we spent a lot of time on maintaining offline processes and documentation. Those finance systems also required expensive, time consuming upgrades or customizations to support new accounting standards and even basic business changes such as setting up new operating entities or changing transaction approval requirements.

Here’s a look at how compliance and audit tasks have been simplified with Workday Financial Management:

  • Every change and transaction within the application is stamped with a date, time, and person. We can run reports straight out of the application that map our business processes in flow chart format, document any changes made to those processes, and provide fully visible and detailed audit trails on all transactions.
  • We use Workday Financial Management and our Workday Human Capital Management application together as one unified system, which strengthens security and access controls.  When someone leaves the company and is terminated in the HCM application, his or her access is automatically shut off system-wide. When organization or personnel changes are made in the HCM application, they’re automatically reflected in the business processes in the financial management application.  As a result my system control environment is always current.
  • I can quickly set up a new operating entity or configure business changes, ensuring that everything within the application reflects the way the business is operating at any moment in time. These changes take minutes—compared to months with legacy systems—avoiding error-prone manual workarounds that finance professionals must adopt while waiting for changes to be implemented in legacy systems.
  • Updates twice a year to the application provide my team with new functionality that helps support new standards and regulations without the additional cost, effort, and delay that results from an on-premise software upgrade.
  • Key controls—such as spend authorization policies and journal entry posting rules—can be built into the business processes within Workday Financial Management, supporting compliance and reducing the risk of control failures.

As my peers face decisions around how to deal with common finance pain points, I hope these blog posts are shedding some light on how a modern finance system can make a big difference. The pressures and responsibilities facing our finance teams are greater than ever, and it’s absolutely essential that we have the right tools to meet them head on.