December 2009

Finance Accelerates Monthly Close Process


Since early 2009, CHI’s Financial Reporting team has been working with market-based organization (MBO) finance teams to deliver financial information to leaders more quickly by accelerating the monthly financial close process.

The close process includes the submission, consolidation and reporting of systemwide financial data, which takes place at the end of each month. The MBOs have already helped to reduce the process from 16 to 13 days, with plans to reach a 10-day process by December 2010.

“With the shorter close process, MBO and national leaders are able to receive reliable financial data – and spot trends and opportunities for improvement – sooner,” said Cathy Dal Santo, director of finance for CHI. “They rely on this information to make operational and capital decisions, and we are committed to delivering it faster.”

Month-end closing currently occurs in three phases: data preparation and submission, data validation and consolidation, and report preparation. Throughout 2009, MBO finance departments gradually shortened the data preparation and submission phase from as long as 10 days to a maximum of seven days. The CHI Financial Reporting team provided assistance, in part by sharing best practices from MBOs like Franciscan Health System, Tacoma, WA. “Franciscan Health System has already achieved a five-day data preparation and submission process, so their experience has been invaluable,” said Dal Santo. “We also worked with the CHI payroll department to change the month-end process to provide payroll data one day earlier, which has been a huge assist to a faster close.”

Beginning in January, phase two of the project will drop two more days off the close process so that the entire process will be completed in 10 business days. This will require increased use of current technology and changes in the timing of access to data.

“This fall, we visited with the financial departments at several MBOs so we could better understand their current processes,” Dal Santo. “These were very productive visits that are helping us compare ourselves to industry best practices.” MBO site visits took place at Franciscan Health System; Centura Health, Denver, CO; Mercy Hospital, Valley City, ND; Saint Clare’s Health System, Denville, NJ; and Saint Joseph Health System, Lexington, KY.

The Financial Reporting team is now creating a workgroup of MBO finance representatives to help achieve project goals and work through obstacles. “At the end of this work, we expect to have a standardized process flow for month-end closing throughout the system,” said Dal Santo. “This will not only deliver financial information faster, but will improve the accuracy and reliability of that information.”

For more information, contact Cathy Dal Santo, cathydalsanto@catholichealth.net.