Over the past few decades, humans have used technology in the most innovative of ways to automate everyday chores and labour-intensive tasks. A quick glance into history reveals that automation has its origin somewhere back in the automobile industry, when automatic devices and controls were used abundantly in mechanised production lines to reduce the workload on production workers. Something that started out as a means of automating human-intensive jobs has today reached every business-related domain and function imaginable. The automation that we know of today is light years ahead of its robotics predecessor.
Automation in the Accounting industry:
The accounting industry is also not untouched by automation. Industry experts believe that automation will change the face of the accounting industry and that automation is the future of accounting. Several simple but significant uses of automation in accounting are already delivering commendable results on the ground. Software’s like Intuit Quickbooks, Sage and Nomisma have already started replacing data entry and low value jobs by automation.
Why accounting firms need to move to automation?
In recent years, the trend of accounting automation has gained a strong market foothold, and accounting firms, big and small, are proactively seeking newer ways of automating their accounting processes to reduce human dependency and increase efficiency. In the days to come, the success of accounting firms will depend on how well they adapt to and adopt the software-based approach to accounting. Though it may be a big move for many firms, but automation can really put out a lot on the table in terms of opportunities for improving accounting processes.
In the face of the increasing industry regulations and the rising internal checks, it has become extremely important for accounting firms to maintain accuracy in data and records. Moreover, the transaction volumes are rising day by day, which creates an urgent need for more resources. However, most enterprises have strict budgets to maintain, which makes it is not feasible to hire more people. Therefore, the complete burden falls on the shoulders of accountants who then have to undergo severe pressure and stress, which increases the chances of mistakes and errors. In such scenarios, automation is the best way out. Repetitive manual tasks can be easily automated, leaving accountants with more time to focus on areas that actually demand careful attention.
Accounting firms of all sizes can harness the power of technology to offer professionals the chance of polishing their accounting expertise and discover thriving roles for the future.
How to leverage automation for your large accounting firm?
Accounting automation focuses on accurate analytics. Earlier, accountants used to be more focused on historic data, audits and compliance. With technology now taking that role, accounting firms can pay more attention to their clients’ financial success.
Technology such as cloud automation can revolutionise the way accounting processes are conducted in large accounting companies that have numerous frameworks and overlapping processes. Though large accounting firms have more resources, the level of complexities is also very high for them. Thus, for large accounting firms, accounting automation can be a real boon, provided it is used resourcefully.
Large firms can choose a suitable cloud platform and integrate it with the right software and tools to automate a wide range of manual and labour-intensive financial, backend and administration processes, which will eliminate time-consuming data entry tasks, get rid of complicated spreadsheets and reduce the piles of paperwork and records. If leveraged correctly, accounting automation will shift the focus from analysing historic accounting data to real-time client interaction for strategic counselling, thereby enabling accounting firms to add more value to the clients’ financial decisions.
Today’s accounting ecosystem is quickly moving towards an era of ‘no-code accounting’ which is expected to usher an age of zero data entry. Though that might seem impossible right now, come to think of it, in the next few decades, it might not be out of the bounds of possibility. It is not hard to imagine a technology that prioritises our tasks while we have our night’s sleep. When we wake up the next day, we receive complete insights about our clients along with a cup of coffee, empowering us to reinvent the role of accountants and bookkeepers in a way that uses the latest technologies to bring more value to clients.
Compiled below are a few drivers that will help your large accounting firm get the best out of automation.
- Simplified accounting processes:
Manual data entry will become a thing of the past with automation taking the centre stage. The bookkeeping practice will become obsolete with all the clients’ financial and accounting records being managed via online tools. Manually entering bill numbers and printing cheques are some tasks that accountants spend a large part of their daily time on, these too will become obsolete, thereby freeing up company resources for other crucial tasks. Technology can also be used to detect patterns and predict future outcomes, which will help you prevent bad outcomes for your clients.
- Insightful and effective practices:
Well, automation and technology will assist and speed up tasks for us, but there will still be the need for judgement. Automation cannot replace the human judgement, and tasks will still need monitoring and periodic assessment. Automation will speed up the data collection and analysis processes, giving accountants unparalleled insights about their clients, which will help quickly recognise and analyse patterns to provide better recommendations and counsel to clients. This will increase clients’ confidence in your accounting firm, leading to better profits for you.
- Automated audit confirmations:
Audit confirmation is a crucial application area of accounting automation. Accounting firms spend large sums of money on ensuring accurate audit confirmations. Audit confirmations can go wrong for a number of reasons, such as incorrect client contact information, false client contact person and misleading information. It is not humanely possible for accountants to verify the legitimacy of such information, leading to lengthy and costly filings. Automation can help reduce the hassles related with audit confirmations by automating audit workflow and cost management. However, audit automation cannot be introduced overnight, it will need an organically thought out process along with extensive internal training.
- Virtualised services for clients:
Decision makers of large corporations, such as chief financial officers, need access to financial data at the tip of their fingers and in the real time. With automation, large accounting firms will find themselves capable of providing virtualised services to high-profile clients. These services will use online accounting tools to effortlessly integrate billing, payroll, financial statements and more.
- Data Custodians and Trusted Business Advisors:
With automation, the scope for errors becomes zero, as the data is untouched and free from human errors. This data can then be streamed into elegant dashboards for clients, thereby giving accounting firms the opportunity to add more value to clients’ business, but with technology handling most of these manual tasks, what will accountants be doing? True insights are more than basic data aggregation services, they also help in skill development and value generation. Even with all the automated assistance, there has to be someone who will have to manage the integrated accounting systems and interpret the results. That is what accountants and bookkeepers will be doing, they will become trusted business consultants and the custodians of clients’ critical data.
- Value-based pricing for customers:
With accounting tasks becoming increasingly automated, the billable hour model of charging customers will fade away. Since automated systems and software reduce the time required to complete tasks, accounting firms will no longer be able to charge their customers by the hour. The pricing focus will, therefore, shift to a value-based model, where companies will have to come up with pricing options that take into consideration the value they are offering to customers rather than the number of hours they’ve put into completing the tasks. This is expected to offer large accounting firms significant opportunities in the advisory services sector where clients will be paying for the value they are receiving out of a vendor’s service rather than for the service itself.