Closing the financial books within a week of the monthly or quarterly reporting period is a sound business practice. But benchmark research conducted by Ventana Research reveals that at least half of companies can't do it. A slow close is costly. It wastes resources and squanders opportunities. In many organizations it is caused by inefficient processes and inadequate technology, often in large measure due to a reliance on spreadsheets. Companies that are determined to maintain their competitive edge are accelerating their close by eliminating their risky reliance on spreadsheets and automating processes using dedicated technology.