In Pursuit of Profit
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Automation improves ROI, enables scalability, increases collaboration, and develops organizational resiliency. And if that was not enough of a reason to go down the path of exploring your automation options, these days technology is cheaper, more robust, and easier to use than ever before. As a result, it is more ubiquitous across all industries, especially in technical professions like finance and accounting.
CPA and technologist, Aaron Benson explains, “I think that technology has finally infiltrated every aspect of what we do within the profession, and to be competitive and to move forward, you have to use technology.” In his interview at the 2019 AICPA ENGAGE Conference he further goes on to explain, “Most people use like 20–30% of the software they [could] use and leave everything else on the table.”
The team at Botkeeper reinforces this point when they say,
When spreadsheet software was introduced, accountants everywhere rejoiced—digital spreadsheets added the first effective automation tools that accountants could fully take advantage of (but a lot was still very manual, obviously). Since then, a lot has happened with automation technology, and today’s accountant now has dozens of options to streamline many of their day-to-day processes.
But with so many choices, which areas should be your top priority?
General Bookkeeping & Reporting
Accountants should not be spending their time doing data entry and bookkeeping tasks. These activities are better suited for lower-level financial staff like bookkeepers.
However, tasks that are straight-forward and repetitive in nature are ideally suited for applying automation as well. For example, ongoing financial reporting falls under the purview of a cloud-based accounting software like QuickBooks, Xero, Wave, FreshBooks, or Botkeeper. These popular accounting platforms allow accountants to do everything from sending invoices to scheduling regular financial reporting automatically.
Accounting software like QuickBooks can be used to carry out bookkeeping tasks more efficiently, freeing up accountants to take more of an analyst or advisory role. The team at Blackline elaborates on this benefit by saying,
The degree of manual effort has always plagued spreadsheet accounting. Today’s crisis, with accounting groups forced to work remotely, adds even more pressure—to make sure accounting professionals are working with consistent, reliable numbers and with seamless process handoffs. Accounting automation delivers these benefits, giving finance groups consistency of data and supporting collaboration with rules-driven processes. In fact, accounting automation allows accountants to focus on high-risk areas and higher-value activities. More than that, automation also tracks process performance and lets managers track and adjust Finance-related KPIs.
Let AI handle the grunt work to reduce payroll expenses and scale up operations more effectively as the business grows.
Payroll & Benefits Administration
Paying payroll taxes and handling benefits administration can be time-consuming tasks without automation. Utilizing a system that integrates HR and accounting can streamline these tedious tasks. While ADP is probably the most widely used payroll system, there are a variety of options to allow accounting staff to automate payroll, such as QuickBooks Payroll, Gusto, Paychex Flex, Workful, and Rippling.
In addition to accounting-specific software, accountants can benefit from automation on other technology platforms as well. Project management tools like Celoxis, Canopy, ProWorkflow, and Ravetree keep accounting teams all on the same page and streamline workflows by creating automated reminders and notifications.
Tax filings, financial reporting, bank reconciliations, and any other accounting tasks that need to be performed regularly can benefit from a project management system to keep everyone accountable and on schedule. And while larger accounting teams benefit most from project management software, even small teams and individuals can lean on the framework that this kind of structured tool provides.
While separate fraud detection platforms (like ClearSale, Riskified, and MarkMonitor) certainly exist to protect against external ecommerce fraud, many online accounting platforms also inherently include internal fraud detection tools by requiring users have unique logins with activity tracking and data logs.
Remember, decentralized accounting functions are a pillar of internal financial controls. Separating duties, setting permission levels, and backing up data not only improves data integrity, but also minimizes fraud opportunities and makes fraud detection easier.
Not sure where to start with upgrading your accounting technology? Learn more about outsourced accounting services to improve the efficiency and accuracy of your accounting functions.