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How the Best Accounting Managers Start 2019 Off Right

How you start the year often determines how the rest of the year will go. As an accounting manager, here’s how to make the best use of January to set yourself and your teams up for success in the New Year.

Make sure 2018 was closed down properly. In order to start 2019 off right, it’s important to close 2018 down correctly. Once a year ends, the books are wiped clean for the next year, but if there are any issues with the way reconciliations were done, or assets allocated, those problems will still need to be addressed in the New Year. Avoid bringing work from 2018 too far into 2019, and take the time now to review financial statements carefully and thoroughly.

Audit leftover projects. Towards the end of the year, smaller projects may have been pushed to help finish budgeting and forecasting, which often takes several months to complete. January is a good time to look back at which projects weren’t completed and get status updates on them. Then, make a plan with your team to make progress towards them and assign deadlines.

Review renewals. Don’t let upcoming renewals catch you off guard. Make sure your team has a plan in place and knows which services are up for renewal and when. Many contracts for insurance, leases, software may be on auto renew, so if you’re wanting to make a change or adjustment with any contracts, it’s important to know those key renewal dates and have a plan for each product.

Get started on tax preparation. Reach out to your auditor or tax prepare to see what documentation they will need from you. Get started early on gathering the required information because once the new year starts, there will be countless other tasks that need your time and attention. Audit social security numbers, ensure W-9’s are correct and you have all the W’9’s you need. Mistakes with social security numbers are costly for employees and organizations, so be proactive and do an audit of them on the front end. For important forms like 1099’s and W2’s, put a communication plan in place so employees know when these forms will become available and what to expect. Your team should also have a timeline of tasks that need to be completed to ensure these forms are submitted on time.

Assess your team. Think about how your staff was best managed, where they excelled and where they fell short over the year. Was their workload achievable? Were there any issues with team dynamics that need to be corrected in 2019? Did an employee step up that should be recognized? Is there a gap in expertise? Use the answers to these questions to aid in hiring and training and development decisions in the coming year.

Educate internal groups. While budgeting for the next year should already be complete, take this time to educate the leaders of your company’s various groups on their spend and any trends among their teams. Accounting managers can provide value by educating internal groups on where they can be more efficient or where there is opportunity to do more.

At the end of the day, the key is to tie up any loose ends before they bleed too much into 2019. A new year is a clean slate for your company’s books, so make sure you and your team are starting off on the right foot.