Lean bookkeeping: The problem with paper statements

Lean bookkeeping: The problem with paper statements

It’s most bookkeepers’ favourite day – statement day. Spotting the bank’s logo on the corner of a crisp, white envelope in a messy stack of mail. 

It’s the chance for the bookkeeper to check their entries against the official bank statement, known as “reconciling.” It’s the time to catch errors or missed transactions to strengthen reporting accuracy.

But I’ve witnessed a common problem in the reconciliation process in businesses. It has to do with a common waste found in office settings – waiting.

The problem

Some businesses still opt for paper statements. Banks usually issue statements within a few days of the end of the month. The average time for a letter to arrive in the mailbox is three business days. How often do you check the mailbox? Every day – I think not. Twice a week? Every Friday when you remember? Probably. So this is a lead time of about seven days of waiting, especially if the statement date falls on a weekend.

So what?

Management teams use reports to check the financial health of the company and make operational decisions. Reports should be reconciled to be accurate. The longer the bookkeeper is waiting for a statement, the longer management teams have to wait for reconciled reports. They are missing an essential factor in effectively operating the business.

The improvement

Opting instead for electronic statements is a small change in the process that immediately eliminates days of waiting time caused by paper mail delivery.

Most major banks will have an electronic statement available within a few days of a period end. For bank accounts, a period end is usually the last day of the month. For credit cards, the period end date varies.

Regardless, electronic statements eliminate at least five days of waiting waste. What would you do with five days?

Continuous improvement

The other benefit of electronic statements is there is more certainty on a statement delivery date. Bookkeepers can find out what day the bank releases the electronic statement, which is more definite than mail delivery.

It provides another opportunity for time savings in a bookkeeper’s workflow. For example, paper statements might come in the mail and go into the bookkeeper’s inbox, or on the “to do” pile. Depending on the bookkeeper’s work load, the reconciliations might have to wait until the bookkeeper has time to get to them.

But knowing the statement delivery date, the bookkeeper can schedule the process into their work day. They can block it off in an electronic calendar, paper calendar, project management software, or any other system they use to organize their workflow. So when the statements become available, the work is planned so it can happen right away.


Companies and bookkeepers can expect to eliminate days of waiting time in the reconciliation process if they opt for electronic statements instead of paper statements. 

Nicole Auser
  Nicole Auser

Nicole Auser has more than a decade of progressive experience in bookkeeping for small businesses and non-profit organizations. As an entrepreneur and owner of two small businesses, she understands the need to streamline bookkeeping systems to save time and money.

Avel Espiritu, Founder and Director of Red-5 Enterprise Inc.
Avel Espiritu

Avel Espiritu is an expert in Lean principles and practices. With 14 years of progressive experience leading and managing projects, he applies Lean principles to execute project tasks and bring them to a close – on schedule and within budget.

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