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Time Management Tips for Accounting and Finance Professionals  

March 22, 2024
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During the course of a year, certain periods can be stressful within accounting and finance departments, as teams are asked to keep up with their day-to-day responsibilities while taking on extra work. This article will provide time management tips for accounting and finance professionals and explain how they can use technology to help navigate busy seasons.  

Busy Times for Accounting and Finance Professionals

According to Chris Elmore, AvidXchange’s chief evangelist who’s spent decades working in accounts payable (AP), accounting and finance professionals are typically under pressure at particular times of the year. These include:  

Month- and year-end closes
Audit and tax season

Budgeting season

Holidays and personal time off (PTO)

During these periods, time management tips for accounting and finance professionals are especially important. These departments can’t easily take a break – they must always ensure payments get out on time and financial records are accurate to ensure business continuity.  

To guarantee teams can accomplish their daily tasks while also delivering on big-picture projects, Elmore recommends planning ahead, prioritizing tasks and utilizing technology.  

If you’re a busy accounting or finance pro looking for time management tips, we’ve got you covered. Make the most of your time by multi-tasking – You can listen to our podcast on time management tips while working, commuting or getting in some exercise. 

Just click below or stream the episode on your preferred podcast platform, including Spotify, Apple, iHeart and Pandora

Not a podcast person? Read on for more … 

Time Management Tips for Month- and Year-End Close

The month-end close process takes accounting and finance teams approximately 5-10 days to close out financial activity for the preceding month. Year-end close may take a month or two at the end of the year and the start of the new year since it involves a larger number of transactions. During this time, teams are on the spot to deliver reporting to stakeholders while also completing their typical job responsibilities.  

Chris Perry has spent 20+ years in accounting and finance. He’s served as a CPA, controller and CFO at different times throughout his career. Currently, he’s an account executive for the real estate vertical at AvidXchange, helping AP teams streamline processes with automation. When asked about the secret to smooth month- and year-end closes, Perry replied, “I think it really comes down to preparation.” 

Perry suggested that teams execute closes against a checklist. They should understand where time will need to be devoted and properly allocate that time across the team – otherwise, time crunches may result in carelessness and mistakes.  

One way to help cut down on the pressure facing accounting and finance teams during month- and year-end closes is to automate AP processes. Automating tasks like coding invoices lets your team focus more time on value-added tasks like analyzing reports.  

Perry has first-hand knowledge of how AP automation can positively impact accounting and finance departments. In a previous role, his team implemented AvidXchange to automate AP functions. As a result, he experienced time savings, more accurate financial statements and centralized data.  

"Before, we were pushing a lot of paper. Invoices were coming in manually. They were circulated for approval either by e-mail or paper folders. That’s a much slower process. It creates a lot of bottlenecks.”

Time Management Tips for Tax and Audit Season

Tax season for finance and accounting departments is comprised of the months between January and the April 15 deadline for filing taxes. For most companies, audit season coincides with this period. But if your company’s fiscal year does not correspond with the calendar year, audit season is usually the quarter following your year-end close.  

Audits are intended to review processes and guarantee financial statements are accurate. As such, accounting and finance teams may be asked to pull a variety of documentation to support this. Likewise, during tax season, teams need to deliver reporting and other documentation to ensure corporate taxes are filed properly.  

It’s essential for accounting and finance professionals to stay up to date with tax law changes, according to Perry. Knowledge of these changes can result in significant cost-saving opportunities. In many cases, teams can leverage automation to free up time that employees can use to learn about relevant tax policies.  

During audits, staff are often asked to pull documents to support financial reporting. These asks can be disruptive to the daily workflow. Perry recommends using AP automation software like AvidXchange to help reduce the burden from the accounting and finance team while empowering auditors to find what they need on their own.  

“We actually had the idea, why don’t we just give these auditors read-only access to AvidXchange so they could go in and [view documents] pertinent to the audit? That really cut down on breaks in the day when our accountants had to pull those invoices because [the auditors] could do it through AvidXchange quite easily.”

Time Management Tips for Budgeting Season

Yearly budgets are typically formed in the second half of the year, with some finance departments starting to gather data as early as August to inform their budget for the following year.  

Perry feels one of the biggest boundaries to accurate budgeting is employee turnover. Without knowledge of years past, it’s difficult for the department to predict what the future holds. He said, “If you have a lot of turnover in your accounting department, then you lose that knowledge and it’s more of a challenge to accurately forecast for your future. To the extent that you can smooth out that turnover, you’re going to have more accurate information that you’re working off of.” 

Perry suggested that, in addition to freeing up time for accounting and finance teams during busy times like budgeting season, automation technology helps with attracting and retaining top talent, particularly among younger generations. “They’re going to want to come into a role that’s going to have technology in place and allow them to focus on some of the more interesting aspects of a particular role,” he said.  

Beyond talent retention, AP automation helps finance and accounting pros make informed budgeting decisions. In particular, tools that are integrated with a company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) software can provide spending insights and projections.   

Time Management Tips for Holidays and PTO

According to AvidXchange’s 2023 AP Career Satisfaction Survey, 35% of AP professionals took less than half of their paid time off in 2022. With “busy seasons” spanning most of the year in accounting and finance departments, it can be difficult for teammates to take time off without creating a bottleneck in an already packed workflow.   

Perry said that these professionals likely don’t take adequate time off because they may often feel like there’s not enough time to complete their work, so taking a vacation will only leave them further behind. Additionally, they own business-critical tasks like paying suppliers, so taking time off may feel impossible.  

Because AP automation allows for proxy approvers and automated payments, individuals who work in busy accounting and finance departments may have an easier time taking PTO. Additionally, allowing automation to handle some time-consuming manual tasks can help lessen the burden on overwhelmed teams.  

Perry believes that AP automation helps finance and accounting pros enjoy holidays and PTO, which also helps with recruiting and retention.  

“[Employees] come into a position and know we’ve got this technology in place that helps give work-life balance. This is an attractive company to work for because they have those things in place.”

In accounting and finance departments, it often feels like every day is part of a “busy season.” Individuals in these demanding roles are imperative to a company’s success but may feel burnt out or unfulfilled by seemingly never-ending manual work. AP automation offers a solution, helping make processes more efficient so teams can better balance a weighty workload.   

Can’t get enough time management tips for accounting and finance professionals? Listen to our podcast on the topic by clicking below.  

Complete Transcript

Please note: The “Net 30” podcast is designed for audio consumption. Transcripts are generated using speech recognition software and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.


Effectively managing busy times is critical for accounting and finance professionals because they got to make sure that payments get out on time, that our records are accurate and there’s no really big error. So today we’re going to talk about planning ahead, prioritizing tasks and utilizing technology to ensure that when there are times off for busier times of the year. 

All the accounting work gets done really well. I’m joined by Chris Perry, Chris, welcome to the podcast. I’m a big fan of Chris Perry, mostly because you’re just one decent human being. But the other thing is you’ve got tons of experience in accounting finance. So let’s start with just kind of tell people a little bit about, you know, who you are and you’re why, why you’re such a big shot. 


I don’t know about being a big shot. But, um, I, I, I would probably say that I do have a little bit of experience, especially around this topic. So I have spent, I don’t know, the better part of 20-plus years in my career as a former controller and CPA in public accounting and CFO as well. And then made the crazy shift to actually becoming a sales rep. 

I’ve spent the better part of really the last 10 years. Focused around, um, automation, how can you smooth out processes? And specifically as it relates to today’s discussion, you know, as we talk about different time periods that might disrupt the normal sort of day-to-day that an accountant might experience or an accounting leader might experience. So anything that you can do to kind of smooth through that process is obviously going to result in better results for your company, better results, and better information for your stakeholders. And so again, um, love this topic and look forward to, uh, to diving into it. 


All right. Well, let’s get into it. 

There’s basically four things that we’re going to talk about. So we’re going to talk about month end, year end close, tax and audit season, budgeting season, and then holidays, PTO, and work-life balance. So kind of first on the agenda is month-end and year-end close. So what are some of the tips that, that you have for folks to ensure that both of these processes are pretty smooth? 


I think it’s, it really comes down to preparation when it comes to month-end or really, you know, year-end you’re, you’re, you’re under the gun to get, uh, those reports out to various stakeholders by say, you know, the fifth of the month, um, and especially with year end, there is, um, you know, even more to it in terms of the volume of information that you’re obviously compiling.  

So, you know, preparation for that is is critical on certainly through various tasks being automated. That’s just going to allow you to gather information that you need to gather for purposes of the month-end or year-end much, much quicker. So you can really focus on what I would say are some of the more value-added tasks as it relates to month-end and year-end and that’s this more analytical work that needs to be done. Um, the work that needs to be done around validating data around accuracy of information. Again, all of those should be, you know, I think a primary focus for any accountant as they’re going through this, this time period.  


Chris, you mentioned that preparation is key for a smooth month in year in close, but I was wondering if maybe you can give us some specifics about what kind of preparation? You know, checklist is, is great. And I know that’s, that’s on our, our list, if you will. Understanding where your time is going to be devoted to for the next five to 10 days, depending on what your close period is. 


And how are you going to properly allocate? That time, obviously having done it before will help you, um, with any month or year and close. And so to the extent that someone has been around for a while, they’re naturally going to be more prepared than someone that hasn’t. So, you know, I think certainly, you know, retention and talent retention aspect to it, enters the conversation from that standpoint as well.


Under pressure – how does that affect people? 


Well, a seasoned accountant certainly is going to be used to it. But that being said, what pressure can lead to and time crunches can lead to is, is some carelessness, you know, ultimately. And I think that then obviously that leads to mistakes being made. So again, anything that can be auto-generated. Automated from the standpoint of a particular task that can help cut down on some of that pressure, then all the better for the accuracy of the information that they’re preparing. And then, you know, obviously reducing the mistakes.  


So on our website there’s a blog post called, seven tips for a smooth year-end close. And I’m gonna read those seven to you.   

The first tip is to execute against a month-end or year-end checklist, and the second one is to recognize, uh, your team’s hard work, uh, maintain vendor master file, uh, read up on 1099 requirements, organize accruals, and get rid of paper. And then reallocate your team. I think that’s kind of those last two are a little bit associated.  

Any of those jump out to you is maybe needing a little more explanation? 


I mean, the last one, the reallocate your team is tying in a little bit with what I was saying before, in terms of when you have freed up some time in some way, shape, or form – specifically automation – then that time can be devoted to some of these more value-added tasks, such as, you know, more and better review of the financial statements before you’re, you know, compiling them or presenting them to some other party, you know, organizing accruals is a, is another one here. I know in my former life as an AvidXchange customer for many, many years. AvidXchange was a fantastic tool for automating what we were doing from an accrual standpoint because we could obviously run reports in AvidXchange and even run them to Excel and upload them into our accounting system and then making that accrual process much, much easier. Again, freeing up time for some of the tasks that are going to be much more, you know, impactful, I think, as, as an accountant and, and what you’re doing and how you’re performing.  


Let’s talk a little bit about tech. You mentioned, you know, having been a customer for a long time, what’s, if you could just kind of, you know, in a real simple way, paint a picture of the before and after with accounts payable automation as it pertains to month-end and year-end close.  


Before, quite obviously, we’re pushing a lot of paper. Our team was pushing a lot of paper. You know, invoices were coming in more manually. We might have had some that came in through email, but you know, still honestly with way things were being filed, you know, they’re printed out. Maybe they’re circulated, you know, for approval by either email or even, you know, by folders, um, to whoever needs to approve it. That’s a that’s a much slower process, right?  

And so it creates a lot of bottlenecks from an invoice standpoint. And so it also makes it very hard to have a lot of visibility around, you know, your spend and what needs to be accrued, etc. Because if an invoice is sitting on, say, a property manager’s desk and they haven’t touched it and you don’t know about it, and now you have inaccurate information, inaccurate financial statements, right? You know, that’s the sort of pre-automation state, if you will. And then the post-automation state, of course, all of that has been now automated so invoices are digitized. The information can get into AvidXchange and ultimately your accounting system much more immediately. But even if it’s still out for approval, you’ve captured it on the front end. So you’ve kept it off the desk of that property manager. It’s in the portal. So you still have that visibility so that you can make the appropriate accrual for that particular expense, right?  

So you can see that, you know, clearly you’ve accomplished savings. That’s a natural accomplishment with automation, but then you’ve also accomplished more accurate financial statements with that post-automation state.   


I’ve always told people that when you automate, you naturally centralize everything. The invoice comes in, it’s digitized, and once it’s digitized, it’s fully reportable at that point. I think that gives you eyes on it much earlier. Right.  

All right, let’s go on to topic number two. And topic number two is tax and audit season. What would you say, Chris, is the hardest part about preparing for tax and audit season? 


This is a little bit near and dear to my heart because I, the first part of my career in public accounting, I was a tax preparer, and obviously doing a lot of tax returns, mostly for real estate companies. The most difficult part about that job, and I feel like this would hold true for the corporate accounting side, which is kind of where we’re focused here, it’s keeping up with tax law changes. And it changed constantly.  

Every single year, there’s a change to some sort of provision or the IRS code and keeping up with those was very important because obviously there’s, there’s, there’s dollars and cents to that. Right? And so, um, you know, that, that was a, that was a big challenge. Um, certainly, and it’s, it’s new every year, you know, and to some extent.  

It’s not something like maybe what we were just talking about with month-end or yea-end close where it’s, it’s probably going to be a similar process every year. Yes, you know, assisting with and preparing information for tax returns to be prepared or an audit to be completed is, is similar. But there’s nuances to it every single year, just based on different changes within the tax code. 


How can finance departments and accounting departments get ahead of this? Maybe have a smoother tax and audit season? 


It’s about devoting the time that’s necessary to keep up with in very specific example, changes in the tax code that are going to be important for your organization and the savings that you might be able to achieve by knowing that information.  

You know, this is probably going to be a prevailing theme across many of these topics. How do you get that time back in your day to be able to do that? Automation is critical towards giving you that leverage to do it.  

And now I’m kind of putting on my old customer hat and going back into my, my accounting and finance days. When we were first using AvidXchange and going through multiple audits because we were in client accounting reporting for multiple different real estate owners that were our clients so many of them had various auditors. And we had many so it’s not like a process where you only are working with one specific auditor. There were, there were multiple and it was a real challenge getting during tax and audit season specifically with, um, requests for information requests for invoices because that’s a break in that accountant’s normal day-to-day because they’re going to have to go find that invoice. Maybe it’s foldered somewhere on their desktop. Maybe it’s actually in a, you know, the old school, you know, pull out drawer folder. Well, with, with AvidXchange specifically, we actually had the harebrained idea that why don’t we just give these auditors read only access to AvidXchange so they could go in and we could lock it down to, uh, whichever set of properties was, you know, it was in there, you know, responsibility or purview or pertinent to the audit. That really cut down on those breaks in the day that our accountants had to pull those invoices because they could do it through, through AvidXchange quite easily. 


I wanted to ask you about, we’ve, we talked about technology, but I want to ask you about the mindset. Of an accounting professional that triggers them to think, “I need to look into technology.” Because I think even in today’s current environment, when, when they’re pushed or pressured or they have a need, their first thought is I need to hire somebody, not I need tech. And so what’s, what’s the shift or what are the triggers to, to enable a mindset to think about tech?  


Yeah, these time periods, I think specifically. Can always trigger the mind to look into technology, because if you think about it again, these are time periods that aren’t part of the day to day for maybe what an account it’s doing, you know, for 80 percent of their of their life or their job. And so when these time periods arise, it can trigger the mind to think, Hey, there’s, there’s just gotta be. A better way to do this every single tax season, we run into this issue or this happened, how can we avoid that in the future? And technology is a part of that. There’s obviously other ways. And from a preparation and organization standpoint, but again, I always go back to it, the best way to prepare the best way to organize is to be focused on those two things. And how do you have the time to focus on them? It’s through technology. And so again, when you have these peaks. Where your time is being constrained that I think just naturally you think, well, again, how, how can I get more time? And so technology is a big, a big part of that. So, you know, certainly these specific time periods are triggers for that. 


You one day I think there’s going to be a tipping point where people, instead of saying, well, I need to hire someone else. They think, well, what kind of technology can I purchased or, or invest in? And I don’t know when that tipping point is going to be.  


There’s a layer to this conversation around talent and keeping good talent and attracting good talent. And how do you do that? Um, and I think technology is a big part of that because the younger generation is obviously they’re going to want to go into a role where technology is being used in the latest and greatest. Technology. So that again, what they’re doing is going to be more interesting to them. I think anybody is going to have that sort of mindset. 

But, you know, certainly the younger generation does because they’re they’ve been they’ve grown up with technology. You know, everything is right at their fingertips. And so, you know, that’s top of mind for them. And they’re going to want to come into a role that’s going to have that in place and allow them maybe to focus on some of the more interesting aspects of a particular role. So certainly there’s a layer to this conversation from a, you know, again, retention of talent standpoint.  


That’s interesting. You should bring up using technology to hire and retain. Because one of the things that you talked about in, in the kind of the final section of, of our podcast, we’re going to talk about budgeting. You mentioned that there might be some challenges, potential turnover around budgeting season. I’d be curious if you could kind of tell folks, um, what your experience has been on that? 


There is a whole other layer or challenge when you’re forecasting out for the next year. And a lot of that involves knowledge, recent knowledge, um, and how you can take that recent knowledge, the information that you’ve hopefully have accurately in front of you from a financial statement standpoint, to allow you to go and look back and see what happened maybe over the previous year. And then will that happen again in the future or will there be changes?  

So with those questions that I just posed, there’s a challenge to that. And there’s another layer of expertise and knowledge and experience around that. So from a budgeting standpoint, there can be a learning curve to that. And so this actually ties in with what we were just talking about with respect to talent. 

If you have a lot of turnover in your accounting department, then you lose that knowledge and then you lose maybe the ability, or at least it’s more of a challenge to accurately forecast for your future next year, next five years or whatever you’re, you know, whatever you’re budgeting out for. And so to the extent that you can smooth out that turnover, you’re going to have more accurate information that you’re working off of, better knowledge around what they’re actually gleaning from that information and how that ties into what they’re forecasting in the future. And so I think that because there can be an extra layer in an extra challenge around forecasting and some of this stuff can actually be kind of fun. Um, and to devote the time to do that and being able to free up that time through automation and other means as well, I think allows you to just, you know, be able to accurately forecast much, much better and then, you know, again, when you have more knowledge around it, um, it’s going to be all the better.  


So budgeting season kind of putting a bow on it though. We’ve talked a lot about accounts payable automation, how it can kind of save you time and everything like that, but what tools can finance departments use to make more informed decisions around budgeting? 


You know, a lot of the accounting systems out there have some great tools that are attached to, you know, the ERP or accounting system from a forecasting standpoint, that maybe kind of sit. You know, on top of the solution itself. And so it just provides you with, um, you know, more dashboard type information. Around, um, you know, maybe what your spend is or what it has been for the previous year in whichever, you know, category you need to look at or you’re forecasting for. So, certainly, I think the accounting systems have gotten better at developing those types of solutions.  

Let me just kind of talk about maybe a real-world scenario. I’m looking at the repairs and maintenance budget for next year for, you know, property. And I need to look and see, okay, well, what was, you know, what was our spend for R&M for the last year? 

And maybe there, there may be even, you know, different reasons to go back a couple years or maybe look at specific time frames because you feel like that time frame, um, is going to be more likely to happen in terms of what’s causing R&M in the future. And so you can pinpoint that spend very, very easily with just a couple, you know, clicks of a button. 

So having a tool like that during budget season can really, really help you more accurately forecast out for the future. It’s just better information. It’s quicker information. And again, I think naturally that with those two things, it’s a great fit for something like budget season.  


All right. Final topic, holidays, PTO work life balance, according to a 2023 AP Career Satisfaction survey. AvidXchange and IOFM, they found that 22% of AP professionals didn’t take their allotted paid time off. And a shocking 35% took less than half of their paid time off. So there’s a lot of this work-life balance talk going around, but it seems like within the accounting departments, it might all be talk. 

So, all of the topics that we’ve talked about today become harder when people are in and out of that, taking time off and everything. So is it possible to enjoy the holidays, Chris, and take time off, even though there’s these demanding deadlines for AP teams?  


I do think it’s possible. And it honestly centers around what tools does an accountant have at their disposal to make their life easier and to get time back in their day? Because the reason why accountants don’t feel like they can take time off, which is as evidenced by the stats that you just threw out there is because they just feel like there’s just, I just don’t have enough time in the day. How am I, how am I going to take a vacation? I’m going to get behind. When you can alleviate some of that concern because they know that they freed up time through something like automation or maybe even, you know, set proxy approvers. 

So someone goes, you know, is out of the office, you can simply just essentially have someone step in the shoes of that person just with a click of a button. So the invoices are still being processed, payments are still being made. And so when that person comes back from PTO or holiday, there’s not a bottleneck, uh, facing them that they might’ve been dreading before. Uh, and now that’s gone because you’ve been able to successfully smooth that out through the tools that, you know, automated solutions can give you. So again, I think that those, those are all reasons why. Um, you can enjoy the holidays. You can take PTO and you can have that work-life balance. 

Um, and that’s a big part of what technology can give you. It even ties back into. What we were talking about before with talent, you know, when they come into a position and they know we’ve got this technology in place that helps us give us that work-life balance, this is an attractive company to work for because they have those things in place. 


I think all the things that you’ve been talking about, what it does is it doesn’t tie someone to a desk. So old school, they had to come into the desk, they had to be in their area. And now they’re no longer tied to that desk.  

All right. Well, we’ve talked about a lot of things, tax season, budgeting. Holidays, PTO, Chris Perry. Thanks so much for sharing some of this great information and all of this fantastic wisdom.  


No, thank you. Always enjoy, uh, coming on. And, um, as, as you know, I’m super passionate about, about automation and, and this, this, this discussion. So really enjoyed it.  

Thanks, Chris. 


Thanks for listening to the Net 30 podcast presented by AvidXchange. I desperately need to know what you think about this. Leaving a five-star review would be fantastic. You can subscribe to the channel, too. And, oh, by the way, while you’re waiting for the next episode, head over to to learn more. 

One more thing. If this conversation has somehow piqued your interest, which I really hope it has, about accounts payable automation from AvidXchange, there is an additional link to get a demonstration of our solution. I always say it shows way better than it tells, so click on that link, fill out the information, and someone will be in contact with you.  

So thanks again for listening to the Net 30 podcast, and we’ll see you really soon. 

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