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Improve your financial close checklist by throwing it in the trash

ServiceNow rethinks checklists with automated digital workflows


There are things in life that one can expect to become outdated. Most clothes, some cars, and there have certainly been a lot of hairstyles that have lost their luster over time. ServiceNow has added a new trend to that list – the controller’s checklist. Using one to keep track of the thousands of tasks that needed to be completed each month as part of the financial close process must go the way of the mullet, and here’s why.

A checklist is a fundamental building block of an organized life. Note a series of tasks and strike them off after they are completed. Technology helped checklists evolve to live on a phone or in the cloud, ready to reference with a few clicks, but the basic idea remains the same. 

The problem with checklists for finance teams is that they are static and only as effective as the people who are responsible for them. Often people simply don’t update. Others see them as an added burden and do it well after higher priority financial close tasks are completed. For practitioners, checklists are a miserable measure of progress all for the appearance of transparency, not making sure work is done in a timely manner.


Financial close automation quote


When ServiceNow looked at the financial close process, we realized that a more advanced checklist wasn’t the answer. We needed to rethink the process and devise an intelligent way to sequentially transition from one task to the next with minimal human intervention medium to share information with the right context and perspective when an accountant did get involved. Automated digital workflows give a finance a team the ability to approve, review, reject, post a journal entry, and manage reconciliations with a high level of data integration, while providing a controller with real-time visibility the moment a task is done and routed to the next person.

In a recent webinar, Amir Jafari talks about the genesis of ServiceNow’s Financial Close Automation solution, our dynamic response to a static problem. He recounts his time as a controller and his reliance on checklists to the chagrin of his team. That experience drove him to lead the develop of a better solution. You can also hear about the impact finance automation has had at ServiceNow, yielding a 13% increase in efficiency and saving over 560 hours monthly in the first year.

Need more? Well, we have a ton of articlesposts and videos we’d like to share, but the last thing we want to do is add more items your checklist.


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