Advances in technology can help improve workflow in every industry, and accounting is not immune. The ability to adapt and implement changes in your workflow process is necessary to stay current, efficient and, most of all, profitable.
Automation that improves and enhances accounting processes has not only grown in importance, it has become increasingly more reasonably priced so all size accounting firms and departments can take advantage of it.
While automation has created efficiencies in all areas of accounting, three significant ways are worth noting. These include:
- Audit and assurance. New technologies are allowing A&A staff to directly import client data into their workpaper systems, saving time from manual entry and allowing more time for critical tasks such as analysis, interpretation and risk assessment. From simple tasks such as financial statement generation, to ratio analysis, to more advanced uses such as fraud detection and controls testing, automation is shifting the traditional ‘work’ of audit and assurance from keyboard work into brain work.
- Tax and compliance. Software and cloud services continue to utilize scanning technology and artificial intelligence to capture information from both hard-copy documents and electronic data packages, and populate tax and compliance documents, eliminating the instances of keypunch error and missed information.This is making tax filings more accurate, more timely and more compliant with rules and regulations while, at the same time, reducing the time required by staff and managers.
- Accounts payable, accounts receivable and controllership. Internal accounting packages are becoming more integrated with banking software and credit card companies, which allows for the importing of transactions in near real-time. Similarly, ongoing refinements to electronic data Interchange (EDI) allow for more seamless invoicing, verification and payment processes. The usage of emerging blockchain technology in this area is huge since verifications and systems built into the blockchain technology ensure security and compliance in order to invoice for services and pay the bills associated with this work.
Automation is often thought of as a negative term — particularly when one conjures up massive layoffs and cost cutting measures. But when used strategically, automation allows a company to eliminate unnecessary work and frees up employees to use their skills and intelligence to create better workflows and tighter controls for the organization.