Automation as a strategic partnership for Accountants

Intelligent technology like automation may seem like a relatively new concept, but in actual fact, many small & medium businesses are already adopting basic automated accounting processes. A few of the accounting tasks and processes that technology can do or streamline, according to Forbes include supplier onboarding, accounts payable, audits, procurement, purchasing, expense management, and customer queries. As these systems handle the majority of the menial and repetitive work, humans have the increased capacity to focus more on the analytical side, becoming the critical link between data and clients.

Automation in the Accounting Industry

In a study done on 751 financial professionals on process automation in accounting and finance by IMA and BlackLine, the key findings are as such:

  1. Two-thirds of the respondents said they rely heavily on spreadsheets, increasing both time spent on financial statements as well as the risk of inaccurate results.

  2. On average it takes about seven days to complete the closing process.

  3. Only 20% of those surveyed were very satisfied with their current closing process, and only 28% completely trust the accuracy of their financial reporting data.

Before the adoption of automation, many tasks that accountants did were based on manual data entry into multiple systems that didn’t integrate with each other. Can you imagine a full day of work dedicated to hours of data entry, auditing multiple spreadsheets for errors, and re-entering the same numbers into several systems every month? Accounting careers have been built on finding numbers, entering them in a certain field, and performing routine calculations. Today, accounting teams are asked to process increasing amounts of data and do more with the information they have. For those that are still using manual processes to do this work, the burden is tremendous.

The true value of finance and accounting teams has never been their ability to do data extraction and crunch numbers. Rather, it is the power and foresight of these humans to analyze the financial and operational results of the business and turn those insights into better strategic decisions.

Automation in the accounting and finance departments can help businesses improve the quality of their governance, reduce risk, deliver more insight, better manage working capital, and improve financial reporting by performing repetitive processes within the software.