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Retiring my dog-eared month end check list

Shaun has been championing our customers to say good-bye to disparate month end processes and embrace new Dynamics 365 features; here he says good-bye to his dog-eared check list, and shares his thoughts on the Dynamics 365 Financial period close workspace:

Over the years, I have often been tasked with visiting a customer to perform a health check on their financials. Typically, this involves checking that key control accounts balance and that the basic principles of Dynamics are being followed. For example, that Works orders are being ended, GRNI is being reconciled and cleared down, and that the stock is recalculated, closed and reconciled.

A common request during these visits is, Can you supply me with a list of tasks and reports that I should be running at month end?”

Although the requirements of each customer are different, it is at this point historically where I would reach for my trusted month-end procedure list and go through the typical month-end tasks. Now, with the introduction of Dynamics 365, I can finally bin my dog-eared procedure list and take a more structured approach.

Microsoft introduced the Financial period close functionality in Dynamics 365 and the workspace. Its a systematic approach to perform month-end and year-end tasks. The key benefits of the Financial period close workspace are:

  • It allows the creation of a customised task list. Each task can be mapped to a specific menu path in Dynamics 365, so no more wandering around the system to try and find the Stock value report. Just click on the hyperlink and generate the report directly from the workspace
  • The task list identifies who is working on what task and when they should complete it, and allows delegation of the task to another user
  • The task list identifies the completion percentage by the company, operational area, and resource, allowing the business to know the real-time status of closing across all legal entities of the organization

The advantages of the Financial period close Workspace for us on the deployment side are:

  • It provides a clear training strategy for consultants
  • We achieve repeatability for multiple implementations; Partners can now create a standardised task list and easily upload this to the customers’ environment. The task list can then be refined to include any niche requirements for that specific company
  • Dependencies ensure that tasks are carried out in the correct order. For example, do not close the stock until works orders have been ended
  • Deadlines for tasks can be set
  • The task list can be configured to open at the correct report or form, meaning that there is a consistency of the reports used each month for reconciliations
  • There is little loss of knowledge when accounting personnel change, reducing our support overhead

It is clear that the financial workspace provides many benefits to both users and partners. I have shared here the steps that are required to configure the workspace.

Setup concepts

The setup of the Financial period close workspace can be split into the following six categories:

  1. Create calendar

The calendar is required so that Dynamics 365 can calculate when tasks are due in relation to the month end date and the standard working days. For example, if I do not work the weekends, Dynamics 365 should skip the Saturday and Sunday when calculating when a task is due.

Here, I have created a calendar for 2017 and I plan to work Monday to Fridays:

  1. Create Task areas

Task areas are used to analyse which areas of the business have tasks outstanding at period end. For this example, I have just mirrored the core modules in Dynamics 365:

Within the Financial period end Workspace, I can now see the status of the period close by area:

  1. Create Closing roles

Next, we need to configure the roles within the business that will carry out the period end tasks.

The concept here is that the period end task is assigned to a closing role. The User (resource) is then assigned to the closing role. Therefore, if an accounting personnel changes, we do not need to re-engineer the whole task list. Instead, we are able to swap out the resource against the closing role:

  1. Add Resources

With the Closing roles set, the next part of the setup is to define which resource is assigned to the closing role. Note that a resource can be assigned to multiple closing roles. However, you can only assign one employee to that closing role per legal entity. If the same template is used across multiple companies, then the resource can be assigned a different closing role per legal entity.

As an example, the screenshot below shows that Simon is the Financial Controller for GBSI. He is also configured so that he can view all tasks and status:

In additional, Kendall is set up as the Purchase Ledger Controller, but she only needs visibility of her tasks:

  1. Add Templates

Next, we need to set up the Task templates. Remember that you can set up multiple templates; for example Period end and Year end. In the example below, I have created a new template called Month End.

Within the template, you will need to define the following:

  • Task area
  • Description of the task
  • Due date of the task
  • Which role will carry out the task
  • A hyperlink to the report or form within Dynamics. (i.e. just browse to the correct menu path)
  • Define if the task has any dependencies.

The example in the screenshot below shows that the Accounting Manager needs to enter the new exchange rates by 8.00am on day zero (note that due dates can also be set to minus days prior to the period end). Finally, the screenshot shows the menu path for the currency exchange rate setup:

At this point, it would be good to provide an example of how the due date is calculated. Imagine the following scenario:

  • My period end = 31st October 2017
  • I have created tasks due on day 0, 3, and 4

  • 0-day task is due 31st October
  • 3-day task is due 3rd November
  • 4-day task is due 6th November (the calendar recognises I do not work weekends)

It is also possible to set a dependency on a task. This means that the task cannot be marked as complete until a prior task has been carried out.

An example of this is shown below. I have created a new task to revalue the foreign currency bank accounts:

However, I have set a dependency so that the task can only be completed once the bank accounts have (1.) been reconciled and (2.) a new exchange rate has been entered:

I will revisit this dependency later on in this post.

  1. Add Closing schedule

The last step is to create the actual Closing schedule. The frequency of creating these schedules will depend on the type of task list you are creating. For example, you could create an annual schedule for the Year-end procedures or create a monthly schedule for each period end.

In the screenshot shown below, I have created a Closing schedule for September 2017. I have also selected my Month-end template and the Standard calendar:

Now that the setup is complete, I can view the Financial period close workspace and select the September 2017 Closing schedule. I can see all the tasks and unfortunately they are all overdue. (Note you will need a worker assigned to your user record in order to view the task list):

As mentioned earlier, I have configured a dependency for the task to revalue the foreign currency bank account. If I now try and complete this task, an error message will be displayed:

Lastly, I have the option to edit this task and re-assign the responsibility to one of my colleagues. Note that this will just delegate the task in the current Closing schedule:

Hopefully, this post will help others with the setup of the Financial period close workspace in Dynamics 365. Although time and effort are initially required to configure the task list and the hyperlinks, the workspace will quickly add structure and visibility to the month end process.

Although not a complete listing, I have also detailed below some of the task links I have recommended over the years:

Suggested task links:

Purchase ledger

  • Reconcile GRNI: Purchase ledger -> Inquiries and reports -> Invoice -> Accrued purchases excluding VAT report
  • Revalue foreign Creditor balances: Purchase ledger -> Periodic tasks -> Foreign currency revaluation
  • Reconcile Creditors subledger to GL: Purchase ledger -> Inquiries and reports -> Supplier ageing report
  • Reconcile Creditors subledger to GL: Purchase ledger -> Inquiries and reports -> Supplier reports -> Supplier balance list

Sales ledger

  • Reconcile GDNI: Sales leger -> Inquiries and reports -> Invoice -> Shipped not invoiced report (US report)
  • Reconcile GDNI Cost: Stock management -> Inquiries and reports -> Stock value reports -> Stock value (report setup to filter on Deferred COGS)
  • Revalue foreign Debtors balances: Sales ledger -> Periodic tasks -> Foreign currency revaluation
  • Reconcile Debtors subledger to GL: Credit and collections -> Inquiries and reports -> Customers -> Customer ageing report
  • Reconcile Debtors subledger to GL: Credit and collections -> Inquiries and reports -> Customers -> Customer balance list
  • Margin reports: Sales and marketing -> Inquiries and reports -> Customer statistics -> Customer/Item Statistics
  • Margin reports: Sales and marketing -> Inquiries and reports -> Sales statics -> Sales analysis by invoice

Stock

  • Reconcile Stock: Stock management -> Inquiries and reports -> Stock value reports -> Stock value (report setup to filter on Stock)
  • Reconcile WIP: Production control –> Inquiries and reports -> Work in progress reports -> Materials in progress / Work in progress / Indirect costs in progress
  • Reconcile WIP: Stock management -> Inquiries and reports -> Stock value reports -> Stock value (report setup to filter on WIP)
  • Close Stock: Stock management -> Periodic tasks -> Closing and adjustment (1. View open quantities / 2. View cost prices / 3. Close stock)

VAT

  • Reconcile VAT: Tax -> Inquiries and reports -> VAT inquiries -> Posted VAT (extract transactions to Excel and pivot by VAT direction and VAT code)
  • EU sales list: Tax -> Declarations -> Foreign Trade -> EU sales list
  • Intrastat: Tax -> Declarations -> Foreign Trade -> Intrastat

General ledger

  • Update exchange rates: General ledger -> Chart of accounts -> Currencies -> Currency exchange rates
  • Place period on hold: General ledger -> Ledger setup -> Ledger calendars
  • Revalue Foreign bank balances: General ledger -> Periodic tasks -> Foreign currency revaluation
  • Generate Financial reporting pack: General ledger -> Inquiries and reports -> Financial reports