66 Effective Tips to Setup an Accounting Department

Hey there, fellow navigator of the business world!

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve embarked on the incredible journey of building or revamping an accounting department within your organization.

Well, let me tell you, you’re in for an adventure, and I’m thrilled to be your guide on this exhilarating expedition.

Now, I’m no number-crunching guru, but I’ve had my fair share of experiences in the ever-evolving realm of business.

Over time, I’ve come to realize that the heartbeat of any successful enterprise shifted from manufacturing or sales towards its accounting & finance departments.

Statistics don’t lie: According a recent statistics published on Healthy Office Habits states that 90% of accountants worldwide believe there has been a cultural shift in accountancy.

It’s the command center, the control tower, and the compass that keeps everything on track.

In the pages that follow, we’re going to embark on a remarkable odyssey, breaking down the process of setting up an accounting department into 66 key steps.

You might be thinking, “66 steps? That sounds daunting!”

Well, I’m here to assure you that each step is like a puzzle piece, and together, they form the blueprint for financial stability and prosperity.

Whether you’re a seasoned business owner, an aspiring entrepreneur, or somewhere in between, these steps are your treasure map.

They’re the path to a financial future where you’re not just keeping the ship afloat, but you’re steering it toward new horizons.

This isn’t just about dollars and cents; it’s about designing a financial fortress that can weather any storm, seize opportunities, and ensure your organization’s longevity.

It’s the art of balancing the books, changing procrastination habits, empowering your team, and fostering growth.

So, if you’re ready to embark on this epic journey, roll up your sleeves, grab your thinking cap, and let’s dive into the adventure of setting up an accounting department that’s nothing short of a powerhouse.

The financial seas may be vast and sometimes tumultuous, but with the right map and a strong crew, there’s no doubt you’ll reach the shores of success.

Let’s cast off and sail into this exciting world of financial leadership!

Effective Tips to Setup an Accounting Department

Effective Tips to Setup an Accounting Department


The Accounting Department’s Five Vital Functions: Beyond the Basics


  • Function #1: Financial Storytelling

    • Accounting departments are not just about numbers; they also play a crucial role in translating financial data into stories that inform business strategies. By analyzing financial reports, they provide insights into what the numbers mean and how they impact the organization. This storytelling approach helps other departments and management make informed decisions based on the financial narrative.
  • Function #2: Predictive Analytics

    • While accounting traditionally deals with historical data, forward-thinking accounting departments are incorporating predictive analytics. By leveraging tools like AI and machine learning, accountants can analyze patterns and trends to make predictions about future financial scenarios. This proactive approach enables businesses to anticipate challenges and seize opportunities, taking accounting to a whole new level.
  • Function #3: Sustainability Accounting

    • Modern businesses are increasingly concerned about their environmental and social impact. Accounting departments are evolving to incorporate sustainability accounting, which involves tracking and reporting on environmental and social performance. This not only helps meet regulatory requirements but also enhances a company’s reputation and sustainability efforts.
  • Function #4: Process Automation

    • To free up accountants from routine tasks, automation, and AI technologies are gaining ground in accounting departments. These tools handle repetitive data entry, reconciliation, and report generation, allowing accountants to focus on higher-level tasks like strategic financial planning and analysis. This innovation reduces errors and increases efficiency.
  • Function #5: Cross-Functional Collaboration:

    • Collaboration is not often associated with accounting, but it’s increasingly becoming a fundamental function. Accountants are working more closely with departments like marketing, sales, and operations to understand the financial implications of various business decisions. This collaborative approach ensures that financial strategies align with broader organizational goals, making accounting a vital and integrated part of the business.

In the ever-evolving landscape of finance and business, accounting departments are redefining their roles. They are no longer just number-crunchers; they are financial storytellers, predictors of the future, sustainability champions, automation enthusiasts, and collaborators who bridge the gap between finance and the broader business strategy.


Setting Up an Accounting Department: 66 Key Steps for Success


Setting up an accounting department is a pivotal step in ensuring the financial health and compliance of your business. Here are 66 key points to guide you in this process:

Preparation and Planning:

  1. Understand Your Business Needs: Determine the size, complexity, and unique requirements of your organization.
  2. Budget Allocation: Establish a clear budget for hiring, technology, and other departmental needs.
  3. Compliance Awareness: Stay informed about relevant financial regulations and standards.
  4. Establish a Timeline: Create a realistic timeline for setting up the department.
  5. Hiring Strategy: Develop a comprehensive hiring plan, including job descriptions and salary structures.

Structuring the Department:

  1. Organizational Chart: Design an organizational structure that aligns with your business.
  2. Department Head: Appoint an experienced CFO or Director of Finance to lead the team.
  3. Team Composition: Hire staff with diverse skills, including accountants, auditors, and financial analysts.
  4. Remote Work Options: Consider allowing remote work to access a broader talent pool. Take also some precautions

Technology and Software:

  1. Accounting Software: Invest in a robust accounting software solution.
  2. Automation Tools: Implement automation for routine tasks, such as data entry.
  3. Financial Reporting Software: Choose software for creating financial statements and reports.

Processes and Workflows:

  1. Standard Operating Procedures: Develop comprehensive accounting processes and workflows. Train your staff for accounting procedures.
  2. Document Control: Ensure proper documentation and record-keeping procedures.
  3. Internal Controls: Establish internal controls to prevent fraud and errors.
  4. Reconciliation Protocols: Develop reconciliation processes for bank statements and accounts.

Data Management and Security:

  1. Data Privacy Policy: Establish data privacy and security measures.
  2. Backup and Recovery: Implement a data backup and recovery strategy.
  3. Access Control: Control access to sensitive financial data.

Financial Reporting:

  1. Periodic Reporting: Set up a schedule for regular financial reporting.
  2. Custom Reports: Create custom reports tailored to your business needs.
  3. Dashboard Analytics: Develop a financial dashboard for real-time insights.

Budgeting and Forecasting:

  1. Budgeting Software: Invest in budgeting software for accurate financial planning.
  2. Long-term Projections: Consider long-term financial forecasting.
  3. Scenario Planning: Develop contingency plans for different economic scenarios.

Taxation and Compliance:

  1. Tax Compliance Plan: Ensure adherence to tax regulations and filing deadlines.
  2. VAT/GST Procedures: Establish procedures for value-added tax (VAT) or goods and services tax (GST).
  3. Auditing: Prepare for internal and external audits.

Vendor and Supplier Management:

  1. Vendor Accounts: Create accounts for vendors and suppliers.
  2. Invoice Processing: Implement a streamlined process for invoice handling.
  3. Payment Scheduling: Set up a schedule for timely payments.

Payroll Management:

  1. Payroll System: Choose a payroll management system for employee compensation.
  2. Employee Taxation: Ensure compliance with tax withholdings and reporting.
  3. Employee Benefits: Administer employee benefits and retirement plans.

Expense Reporting:

  1. Expense Tracking Software: Utilize software for expense management.
  2. Expense Policies: Establish clear expense reimbursement policies.
  3. Receipt Management: Implement digital receipt management.

Cash Flow Management:

  1. Cash Flow Projections: Create cash flow forecasts to anticipate financial needs.
  2. Cash Reserves: Maintain an emergency cash reserve for unforeseen expenses.
  3. Credit Management: Monitor and manage credit terms with suppliers and customers.

Financial Analysis:

  1. KPI Tracking: Determine key performance indicators for financial analysis.
  2. Benchmarking: Compare your financial performance with industry benchmarks.
  3. Market Analysis: Stay informed about economic trends and market conditions.

Department Training:

  1. Ongoing Training: Provide continuous training to keep the team updated on best practices.
  2. Certifications: Encourage team members to pursue relevant certifications, such as CPA or CMA.

Communication and Collaboration:

  1. Cross-functional Teams: Foster collaboration with other departments.
  2. Regular Meetings: Schedule regular meetings to discuss financial matters.
  3. Management Reports: Create reports for senior management and stakeholders.

Risk Management:

  1. Risk Assessment: Identify financial risks and implement mitigation strategies.
  2. Insurance Coverage: Review insurance policies for adequate coverage.

Emerging Technologies:

  1. Blockchain and Cryptocurrency: Stay informed about emerging financial technologies.
  2. AI and Machine Learning: Explore AI applications for financial analysis.

Cost Reduction Strategies:

  1. Expense Review: Regularly review expenses to identify cost-saving opportunities.
  2. Outsourcing Options: Consider outsourcing specific functions like payroll or taxes.

Environmental Responsibility:

  1. Sustainable Practices: Incorporate sustainable and environmentally responsible practices.
  2. Green Investment: Evaluate environmentally friendly investments.

Employee Well-being:

  1. Work-Life Integration: Promote work-life integration for department employees.
  2. Mental Health Support: Offer mental health resources for the team.

Strategic Finance:

  1. Financial Strategy: Align financial goals with the organization’s strategic objectives.
  2. Growth Planning: Develop financial plans to support business growth.

Financial Technology Adoption:

  1. Cloud Accounting: Consider moving to cloud-based accounting solutions.
  2. Fintech Collaboration: Explore collaborations with financial technology providers.

Tax Optimization:

  1. Tax Planning: Strategize to minimize tax liabilities.
  2. Transfer Pricing: Evaluate transfer pricing strategies for international businesses.

Global Expansion:

  1. International Accounting: Prepare for accounting complexities when expanding globally.
  2. Currency Risk Management: Develop strategies to mitigate currency exchange risks.

Setting up an accounting department is a multifaceted process that involves numerous aspects of financial management. By following these 66 key points and considering unconventional and innovative approaches, you can establish an efficient, strategic, and future-ready accounting department that benefits your business’s financial health and growth.


Structuring an Accounting Department: Tailored Approaches for Different Business Sizes


For SME (Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises) Size:

  • Centralized Accounting Team:

    • In smaller businesses, a centralized accounting team that handles all financial aspects may be efficient. This includes bookkeeping, accounts payable, and accounts receivable.
  • Hybrid Generalists:

    • Employ versatile accountants who can wear multiple hats, from bookkeeping to financial analysis, in line with the resource constraints of SMEs.
  • Outsourced Services:

    • Consider outsourcing specific functions like payroll or tax compliance to specialized firms to reduce the workload on the in-house team. ( Check out SRM’s Payroll Services)
  • Embrace Automation:

    • Leverage accounting software and automation tools to streamline processes and reduce manual data entry.
  • Cross-Training:

    • Encourage cross-training among team members, allowing them to cover for each other during peak periods or vacations.

For Enterprise Size:

  • Departmental Segmentation:

    • Create specialized departments, such as accounts payable, accounts receivable, and financial reporting, to handle various aspects of accounting.
  • Internal Audit Team:

    • Employ an internal audit team to ensure compliance and mitigate financial risks.
  • Financial Systems Integration:

    • Invest in integrated financial systems that allow seamless data flow between departments and enhance data accuracy.
  • Specialized Roles:

    • Hire specialists for roles like tax accounting, forensic accounting, and financial analysis to manage the complexity of enterprise-level finances.
  • Finance Business Partners:

    • Appoint finance business partners who work closely with other departments to provide real-time financial insights and drive decision-making.

For Conglomerate Size:

  • Global Accounting Centers:

    • Establish regional or global accounting centers to handle diverse business units spread across the world.
  • Shared Services Model:

    • Implement a shared services model to centralize routine accounting tasks, reducing redundancy and saving costs.
  • Strategic Finance Leadership:

    • Appoint CFOs and financial directors for each subsidiary with the authority to make localized financial decisions.
  • Tax and Compliance Units:

    • Develop specialized tax and compliance units that ensure adherence to international regulations.
  • Big Data Analytics:

    • Utilize big data analytics to consolidate financial information from various subsidiaries and extract valuable insights.

Common Across All Sizes:

  • Clear Reporting Structure:

    • Establish a well-defined reporting hierarchy to ensure efficient decision-making and accountability.
  • Defined Roles and Responsibilities:

    • Clearly outline the roles and responsibilities of each team member to avoid confusion.
  • Training and Development:

    • Invest in continuous training and development programs to keep your team updated on industry best practices.
  • Regular Audits:

    • Conduct internal and external audits periodically to maintain financial transparency and compliance.
  • Secure Data Management:

    • Implement robust data security measures to protect sensitive financial information.
  • Scalability Considerations:

    • Structure your accounting department with scalability in mind, allowing for growth and adaptation as your business expands.
  • Technology Integration:

    • Continually evaluate and integrate accounting technology that aligns with your business needs.
  • Feedback Mechanisms:

    • Establish open channels for employees to provide feedback and suggestions for process improvement.
  • Customer-Centric Approach:

    • Regardless of size, prioritize a customer-centric approach, ensuring that the accounting department serves the needs of the business effectively and efficiently.



What Do Most People Get Wrong about “Setting Up an Accounting Department”


Setting up an accounting department is a critical aspect of managing a business, but there are several common misconceptions and mistakes that people often make. Here are some of the key things that people tend to get wrong:

  1. Underestimating the Complexity: One of the most significant misconceptions is underestimating the complexity of setting up an accounting department. Many business owners assume that it’s merely about hiring an accountant and getting accounting software. In reality, the process is more multifaceted and requires a clear understanding of the company’s financial needs, roles, and regulations.
  2. Overlooking Compliance: Compliance with tax laws, financial regulations, and industry-specific requirements is paramount. Ignoring or misunderstanding these compliance obligations can result in costly penalties, legal issues, and reputational damage. Many businesses don’t invest enough in understanding, and adhering to these regulations or in hiring tax advisory company.
  3. Hiring the Wrong Personnel: Some organizations make the mistake of hiring accountants or financial professionals without the necessary skills or experience. It’s not just about finding someone with a finance degree; it’s about ensuring that they have the right expertise to meet your specific accounting needs.
  4. Neglecting Technology: Accounting is not just about number-crunching; it also involves managing financial data efficiently. Neglecting technology or using outdated accounting software can lead to errors, inefficiencies, and missed opportunities for automation.
  5. Inadequate Budgeting: Failing to allocate sufficient budget for the accounting department setup can lead to delayed recruitment, inadequate software resources, or a lack of investment in employee training. This can result in inefficient operations and financial inaccuracies.
  6. Lack of Documentation: Proper documentation of accounting policies and procedures is often overlooked. Without clear guidelines, confusion can arise among the accounting team, leading to inconsistent financial reporting and decision-making.
  7. Not Considering Growth: Businesses often fail to anticipate their future growth when setting up an accounting department. As a result, they may hire only for their current needs and not consider how the department will scale as the company expands.
  8. Ignoring the Human Element: The human element is just as critical as the technical aspects of accounting. A strong accounting team requires communication, collaboration, and a commitment to ethical standards. Neglecting these aspects can lead to internal conflicts and mismanagement of financial data.
  9. Focusing Solely on Historical Data: While historical financial data is essential, an accounting department should also be forward-looking. It should use data analysis to provide insights and forecasts that can guide strategic decision-making.
  10. Not Embracing Innovation: Some businesses cling to traditional accounting methods and are resistant to innovation. Embracing technological advancements, such as automation, AI, and blockchain, can improve efficiency, accuracy, and the overall value of the accounting department.
  11. Ignoring Local SEO: Many accounting firms mistakenly believe that SEO is primarily about national or global search visibility. In reality, local SEO is crucial for accounting firms. Prospective clients often search for local accounting services, so optimizing for local search terms, creating Google My Business listings, and encouraging client reviews can significantly boost online visibility. Moreover, maximizing SEO for accountants is a vital tool to build an accounting team, if you want to succeed in the digital world.

In conclusion, setting up an accounting department is not a one-size-fits-all process. It requires careful planning, a thorough understanding of the business’s unique needs, and an awareness of the evolving landscape of finance and technology. Avoiding these common misconceptions can help businesses establish a more effective and future-proof accounting department.


Final Thoughts


Now, as I look back at the exhaustive journey we’ve just undertaken, I can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment. We’ve delved deep into the intricate world of setting up an accounting department, unraveling 66 key steps that are nothing short of a roadmap to success.

I’m an entrepreneur and a management consultant, not necessarily an accounting-focused person but dealt with setting up more than 20 accounting departments in the last 10 years: I’ve learned a thing or two about what it takes to build a strong foundation for financial stability. As we conclude this comprehensive guide, I want to share some final thoughts with you.

First and foremost, setting up an accounting department isn’t just about numbers; it’s about setting your organization up for growth, efficiency, and financial health. It’s a powerful investment in your future.

I’ve always believed that success lies in the details, and this guide has left no stone unturned. From understanding the strategic role of your accounting department to selecting the right software, it’s all here.

But, let me tell you something – it’s not just about the steps. It’s about the journey. Each decision, each action, and each effort you put into building your accounting department is a testament to your commitment to excellence.

As you embark on this endeavor, remember that challenges may arise, but they are simply stepping stones to your ultimate success. The key is to keep moving forward, learning from each experience, and continuously improving your processes.

Your accounting department is more than just a group of professionals; it’s the backbone of your financial stability. It’s the engine that keeps your business running smoothly.

So, whether you’re a seasoned business owner or a determined entrepreneur, take these steps to heart. Embrace the process, ask for help when needed, and remember that every action you take is a stride towards a more financially sound and prosperous future.

In conclusion, I’m honored to have been your guide through this journey, and I’m excited about what lies ahead for you and your organization. Building a strong habit of highly productive accounting department is no small feat, but I do not doubt that you’re up for the challenge.

May your numbers always add up, and may your financial success be as boundless as your ambition.

Here’s to building a solid foundation for your financial future and to the success that awaits you.



Erden Tüzünkan


About the Author

Erden Tüzünkan is now a Solopreneur, SEO Expert, Health & Wellness Blogger, 3 x Dad.

He acted as a Serial Entrepreneur by co-founding Albert Solino Consulting, Albert Solino HR, Corvisio OKR, Prosoftly CRM, and Mailsoftly based in San Fransisco -CA during the last 16 years. Last year, he managed to have 5 successful exits.

He served as a Senior Management Consultant for more than 1500 Companies including dozens of Fortune 500 companies.

Before his entrepreneurial life, he worked for international giants like DuPont and Mercedes-Benz Group.

Besides his professional works, Erden Tüzünkan acts as a Quran Scholar in his blog.


Mastering the Ledger: 9 Habits of a Highly Productive Accounting Department

Unlock the secrets to a highly productive accounting department with these 9 habits, each presented as a brief and informative bullet point, along with a bonus point. From unconventional strategies to time-tested methods, this list guides you on the path to accounting excellence. Embrace Technology: Insight: Technology streamlines processes. Habit: Adopt cutting-edge accounting software to […]

66 Effective Tips to Setup an Accounting Department

Hey there, fellow navigator of the business world! If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve embarked on the incredible journey of building or revamping an accounting department within your organization. Well, let me tell you, you’re in for an adventure, and I’m thrilled to be your guide on this exhilarating expedition. Now, I’m no number-crunching […]


İngiltere’de kamu sektöründe, 2017 yılından beri uygulanmakta olan IR35 yasası, özel sektörü de içine alacak şekilde yeniden düzenlendi. Nisan 2020 yılında yasalaşıp yürürlüğe girmesi beklenen uygulama, Covid-19 gerekçesiyle bir yıl boyunca ertelenmiş ve Nisan 2021 tarihinde yürürlüğe girecektir.   IR35 nedir ve niçin önemli? Bir firma bünyesinde bordrolu çalışan olarak yer alması gereken bir kişinin, […]

Güncel Haberler