Our top tips for meeting your accounting deadlines effectively

accounting deadlines
accounting deadlines

Deadlines are an essential aspect of every workplace, but they are particularly prevalent in the accounting industry.

Knowing the commercial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is a critical priority for organisations as they navigate the upheaval created by the pandemic.

Although finance teams are focused on the company, keeping on top of financial statements to meet deadlines may fall way down on the list of immediate priorities.

Delayed filing with the Companies House, HMRC, FCA and other regulatory bodies can result in late filing fines and other significant consequences, affecting credit rating and banking commitments.

Aside from concentrating on the market, other factors influencing a company’s ability to fulfil its enforcement obligations include:

  • Going concern issues and a lack of liquidity
  • COVID-19 accounting consequences, including required additional disclosures
  • Capability to have a timely audit
  • Technology accessibility issues when operating remotely

In this blog post, we will be focusing on how to illustrate the ability to meet deadlines, why deadlines are significant, and the implications of failing to meet them.

We also have some essential time management tips to help you achieve your goals on time every time.

The blog post is divided into the following sections:

What deadlines should accountants meet?

As an accountant, you must accomplish several goals. It may include:

  • Annual filing of financial statements with HMRC and the Companies House
  • Filing tax and VAT returns with the HMRC
  • Economic reports on a quarterly and yearly basis
  • Targets for bank reporting requirements, such as loan covenant reporting
  • Requirements for landlord documentation, such as turnover rent certificates
  • Internal goals include regular management forecasting and reporting.
  • Quarterly and interim reporting to shareholders

What is the significance of a deadline in accounting?

There are many explanations why meeting deadlines is so important in accounting.

The government establishes deadlines for completing accounts and tax returns. For example, failing to achieve these puts you in violation of the law and may result in financial penalties.

Many stakeholders (e.g., shareholders, staff, government, vendors, consumers, investors, banks, and loan providers) require up-to-date information for decision making.

Businesses can also have contractual commitments that necessitate meeting deadlines, such as banking and landlord reporting. Failure could constitute a breach of contract, which in extreme situations may result in the bank cancelling their loan or a landlord terminating their lease.

Similarly, if you work for an accounting firm, meeting deadlines is vital for managing client expectations.

If all goes well and deadlines are met, they will most likely continue working with you in the future.

Reputational risk, as missing deadlines does not create a great impression and can bring undue stress to customers.

13 easy ways to demonstrate your ability to meet deadlines

Businesses these days also have strict deadlines. When you’re dealing with several clients simultaneously, it may seem like you’re continuously struggling to meet deadlines.

Here are some valuable hints to help you stay on track with your goals:

1. Be aware of the deadlines

Don’t let a goal slip through your fingers simply because you forget about it. Ensure that you are completely clear on the deadline for completing the job. You might also keep track of your goals in a spreadsheet or an online calendar.

2. Organise tasks according to their importance

Organise your tasks according to time constraints.

If you have several urgent tasks that need completion simultaneously, prioritise the most relevant one.

If you have many fixed deadlines to meet at once, such as annual tax returns, use your manager’s expertise to determine the best work order.

3. Prepare, and plan 

Don’t put it off until the last minute.

Plan all carefully in advance so that when it is time to work on the mission, everything runs smoothly and on time.

4. Get assistance right away

If your job is stressful and you know you’ll fail to reach deadlines, seek assistance early on; don’t wait until the last minute.

Inform your colleagues or outsourced team regarding your project and what you would (or may) require of them so that they are prepared when you need them.

It saves time and ensures that work is started efficiently and productively.

Make a buffer deadline for your team so that you have more time to edit and make changes if necessary.

Also, get more support at home by sharing or outsourcing your household duties to open up more time for work and meet deadlines.

5. Give yourself plenty of time

Since time is often limited, mainly when working on a budget, make sure your schedule is reasonable. Allow enough time for project completion to a high enough standard without feeling hurried.

Give yourself a gap where possible to account for any unexpected delays or overruns. Time management is essential.

6. Understand the criteria

Before beginning a project, make sure you understand exactly what you need to deliver.

Ascertain that you have all of the requisite knowledge and tools.

It’s a good idea to keep an eye out for changes in regulations or accounting rules, as these can influence the amount of work you need to do and how long it will take you to finish.

Ignoring this will necessitate time-consuming adjustments to your work in the future.

7. Do not be afraid to inquire

If there are some uncertainties, be constructive by attempting to solve them as soon as possible.

Taking guidance from a manager will assist you in resolving issues so that you can step on and get back on track.

8. Eliminate any potential distractions

When you have a tight deadline, you must give the job your undivided attention.

Set up a conference room where you won’t be disturbed, inform people that you’re working on a critical deadline, and set your calendar availability to ‘busy.’

9. Monitor proactively 

Agree on and actively track a timetable with milestones for each main stage of the process for all parties involved, including auditors, distribution centre, legal team, tax team, HR, or an outsourced contractor.

We suggest including measures for tax accounting and disclosures and allowing additional time for audit completion.

 10. Cut down on paperwork

Accounting companies produce and keep a considerable amount of paperwork.

Some of it is expected to be kept for many years for enforcement purposes. Some paperwork may be discarded entirely, while others can be converted to digital format.

Integrating digital documentation into your workflow would provide you with more flexibility; retrieving a client’s invoices remotely is unquestionably faster than standing up, thumbing through a filing cabinet, and digging out what you need.

It also removes the possibility of sensitive documents being misfiled or misplaced.

11. Keep track of your time

Keeping track of your time has its own set of costs. However, it can be advantageous on several occasions. If you bill clients by the hour, you must record the time you spend working on their accounts.

Even if you aren’t, merely monitoring your time for a week or two will reveal your weak spots and help you devise a strategy to minimise or reduce inefficiencies.

12. Set priorities

You’ve also aware of the Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 law.

It notes that 80 per cent of your results come from 20 per cent of your effort.

Place the activities in your company that yield the best products at the top of your priority list.

You can’t get rid of the other 80%, but when it comes to deciding what to cut from a given day’s schedule, you know where to start.

13. Seek assistance

If, after taking the steps outlined above, you still do not believe you will be able to reach the deadline, consult with your manager as soon as possible to see if anyone else can assist you.

Winding-up

Deadlines are challenging enough at the best of times, but when they are tight, and there are several of them, it can be very tricky.

If a client requires a fast turnaround or several clients sign off on your quotes simultaneously, restricting your time to work on each project, one thing is sure: your stress levels can increase if not managed appropriately.

The almost impossible can be made possible with a bit of preparation and juggling, so those as mentioned above are 13 accounting tips to help you reach those alluringly tight deadlines and maintain your stress levels in check.

Keeping these tips in mind will assist finance teams in meeting legislative accounting requirements while also mitigating risk.