Emergent technologies have laid the foundation for financial statements and other business reporting to be distributed in real-time by utilizing live feeds. Artificial intelligence (AI) and internet-based computing (the cloud) have combined to provide financial professionals and other interested stakeholders with transaction information that is updated as it is posted by banks and credit card processors.
How Feeds Work
Live feeds enable accounting programs to automatically update transactions directly from their source. Three examples include banking, payroll and credit card activity. QuickBooks Online, for one, can be configured so individual transactions are automatically downloaded into the accounting program. Banking transactions are placed into a holding area and can then be matched with transactions that have already been entered into the system or added to the accounting program if they do not already exist. Transactions are classified (posted) based on established rules which can be refined and edited during the acceptance process.
Feeds are established for credit card accounts that download individual charges into the accounting program. Default general ledger accounts are set for particular vendors which can always be edited on an individual-transaction basis. Gone are the days of tedious manual analysis of lengthy credit card statements. Just like a bank reconciliation, the credit card statement’s opening balance is already known by the system. Individual charges and payments are cleared based on the statement date and reconciled to the closing balance. As an added advantage, charges can be accumulated by the particular vendor even though the credit card company is the payee.
AI is the breakthrough technology that allows rules-based systems to evolve so less time is required for posting analysis. Processing these workflows via the cloud allows automated updates to occur in near real-time while simultaneously providing authenticated users access to the information as it is processed. If you are already using live feeds, you understand the tremendous time savings and convenience that this technology provides. It is critical that posting rules are established, refined and checked so that source transactions post properly. If you are unfamiliar with this technology, you are justifiably skeptical. But it does work, and it is the future of accounting.