By Jane E. Kelly, Paul Barrow, Lita Epstein

Bookkeeping is a routine and somewhat repetitive process, and sometimes it’s difficult to remember quite where you got up to, particularly if you work only part time for a small company.

Establishing some processes and checks to enable you to get up to speed quickly and efficiently is very useful, especially if you’ve been out of the office for a few days.

For example, you can produce a checklist of all the tasks that you have to do on a monthly basis with tick boxes to show that you’ve completed each one. Here’s an example of a monthly accounting checklist:

  1. Enter all sales invoices. Make a note of the last invoice number.

  2. Ensure that all purchase invoices have been entered. Make a note of the last invoice number.

  3. Enter bank receipts.

  4. Enter bank payments.

  5. Reconcile all bank accounts.

  6. Reconcile all credit cards.

  7. Post accruals.

  8. Post prepayments.

  9. Post any standard journals, such as depreciation or stock journals.

  10. Ensure that the suspense account is zero.

  11. Run your VAT return (if applicable).

  12. Run your Aged Debtor report.

  13. Run your Aged Creditor report.

  14. Print and review your Profit and Loss statement.

  15. Print and review your Balance Sheet.

  16. If necessary make any final journal adjustments or corrections.

  17. Run your month-end or print out necessary accounts for your filing records.

  18. Take back-ups if they aren’t done automatically.

You also need to undertake several tasks on a regular basis to ensure the smooth running of your business:

  • Sales Ledger/Customers: You must have a copy of each sequentially numbered invoice in your lever arch files; you also need to confirm with the sales staff that everyone who should have been invoiced has been. Invoices must be raised in a timely fashion by the bookkeeper (you, if that’s your role) and copies kept on file, so that they can be chased for payment at a later stage.

  • Purchases/Suppliers: A business needs to maintain good relations with its suppliers and that means paying them promptly! As bookkeeper, you must ensure that all purchase invoices received are approved by the relevant departments before they’re paid. You also need to enter all invoices as soon as they arrive to record the liability in each supplier account. If any invoices need to be queried, you must do so quickly and efficiently and raise a credit note if the original invoice is incorrect. Copies of each invoice can be sent out for approval, but you should always keep the originals in a safe place to avoid their being lost or damaged during the approval process.

  • Banking: All banking must be carried out on a regular basis. Now that much of it is done online, it mostly involves checking what’s going in and out of your business’s bank account. Reconciling the bank account on a regular basis means that you’ll have accurate reports for management to review. For example, producing up-to-date Aged Debtors and Creditors reports demonstrates that you know who still owes the business money and which suppliers require paying.

    You may also be responsible for maintaining an up-to-date cash flow and this too will be easier to achieve if you regularly keep a check on the incomings and outgoings of your business’s bank account.

Being organised ensures that all your tasks are carried out in a timely fashion and you can produce accurate reports to inform those responsible for making business decisions.