Why on Earth are Lease Accountants Still Manually Entering Journal Entries?

2 min read
December 12, 2023
CoStar Real Estate Manager Blog

Why on Earth are Lease Accountants Still Manually Entering Journal Entries?

I worked for a 100-year-old insurance company early in my accounting career.  The company was strong and stable, my work was interesting, and my co-workers were great people. But there was one problem.   

I had to go to work on the weekends to process month-end close manually.  By manually, I mean taking a pen and recording journal entries on green ledger paper that was bound together in a big black book.  That book was called the general ledger (GL).  If I ever made a mistake, I fixed it with special green liquid paper.   

The year was 2001, and clearly, recording lease accounting journal entries on green ledger paper was obsolete by that time, so I asked the Controller why we came in on the weekends to do manual work. 

That's the way we've always done it.

The answer was, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” 

That answer takes various forms.  “That’s the way we’ve always done it” could have just as easily been “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” or the auditor’s favorite, “SALY,” which stands for “same as last year.” 

Unfortunately, this type of thinking has been widespread in the accounting profession.  I later worked for a multi-billion-dollar public company.  The accounting team still worked over the weekends during month-end close even though we had access to the latest accounting technology.   

Why?  We were manually recording journal entries into the multi-million-dollar GL software.  By manually, this time, I mean accountants were typing journal entries into Excel and then uploading them into the GL.   

Matt-Waters
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That was in 2011, and clearly, manually typing lease accounting journal entries should have been obsolete by that time.  I asked the team why they were still doing it. 

The answer was, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” 

That's the way we've always done it.

Now, another decade has passed, and I still talk with accounting teams all the time who are manually typing lease accounting journal entries into multi-million-dollar accounting systems.  Those same accountants are frustrated that they have to work weekends and that their companies are having trouble recruiting new accounting team members.   

No accountant should be manually entering lease accounting journal entries.  

With technology, it doesn’t have to be this way. CoStar Real Estate Manager, for example, allows many day-to-day tasks like reporting, accounting workflow and data validation to be automated.  

The solution is quite simple: stop doing manual lease accounting journal entries just because that’s the way it has always been done!  While we’re at it, if we want to recruit fresh talent into the profession, we need to take “SALY” in all its forms out of our vocabulary.   

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