The accounting department has been among the most dramatically transformed by modern technologies, with automation software and other tools entering at breathtaking speeds. From streamlining workflow and reducing the strain of processing to reporting, bookkeeping and beyond, virtually every task in the accounting department now has some technological element, as well as a modern technique, driving it forward.
Despite the fact that many analysts believe software is going to replace the need for accounting professionals, the real world continues to show that technology remains as a strong method of supporting employees rather than unseating them. However, optimal accounting performances will be reliant upon more than just software today, instead demanding a more comprehensive approach that covers people, processes and technologies.
Let's look at some of the key elements of optimal accounting performances as they stand today.
"Automation can reduce costs and errors."
1. Controlled, intelligent automation
Where else to begin other than automation? Software that can reduce the amount of a manual tasks - notably entry and reporting - comes with a range of benefits such as lower costs, higher employee engagement and fewer human errors that throw off numbers. When looking to automate, AccountingWEB explained that professionals will need to brace themselves for three distinct phases of transformation, beginning with processes, moving into artificial intelligence-fueled activities and ending with predictive analytics.
Suffice it to say that if accounting departments have not tackled process automation yet, they need to do so soon. Skipping steps with respect to implementation and digital transformation has simply never worked well, and proactively embracing automation as it evolves is likely to yield the best results in the long time.
Accounting Today noted that firms need to find ways to at once leverage automation and maintain tight control of the activities involved, especially when it comes to reporting. According to the news provider, the use of a more centralized solution that covers process, reporting and other automated workflow elements can help to reduce strain and maintain more comfortable control of information, positioning the company to be highly responsive to regulatory compliance demands.
2. Centralized document management
Enterprise content management has become a more complex, challenging responsibility with the passing of each year. With respect to the document management component of information governance, businesses and nonprofits need to ensure that they are centralizing and de-siloing wherever and whenever possible. From enabling more effective and efficient analysis to streamlining the review process, centralized document management can have a profoundly positive impact on the average accounting department.
Notably, the Association for Information and Image Management reported that content management is changing rapidly, especially the solutions involved, and leaders involved in relevant projects need to tread lightly and think ahead before moving on any policy overhaul, especially when it comes to centralization. Although AIIM views entirely centralized content management systems as a pipe dream of sorts, it noted that the biggest danger comes in the form of information being lost in "abandoned data silos."
So, this makes it clear that migration needs to be completely focused upon data integrity and unification. Accounting departments might struggle to strike the right balance in this regard, making a managed service provider that helps with implementation, management and optimization a valuable resource.
3. Enriched reliance upon cloud computing
Last September, Gartner predicted that organizations would spend 17.2 percent more on public cloud services and solutions in 2016 than the year prior, bringing the global revenue to $208.6 billion. The analysts noted that the immense and widespread push for digital transformation and modernized IT departments were the real drivers of growth, and will continue to be for years to come.
Accounting departments are also involved in this digital transformation, and have been a hotbed for cloud computing deployments for several years now. Enriched reliance on these services can have several positive impacts on the department, and the company at large, including enhanced access to information among authorized individuals, fewer expenditures and stronger collaboration among all employees.
Cloud-based workflows, reporting, recordkeeping, document management and general accounting can effectively modernize any department relatively swiftly and efficiently. However, the results will only be positive when the right solution has been implemented by individuals who understand the requirements involved in major migrations such as one that would accompany a new cloud deployment.
"Analytics will separate the winners from the losers."
4. Analytics-based decision making
This one might be a bit more relevant to leaders, including executives, both inside and outside of the accounting department, but it is up to the employees therein to position the company for valuable use of analytics. Because analytics software has been largely commoditized, there are fewer excuses for not having the technology in place in the accounting department today, regardless of the size of an organization.
Lancaster Online argued that small and mid-sized businesses were not always capable of footing the bill or managing the technology involved in analytics, but this is no longer the case. Rather, the news provider noted that analytics can be immediately implemented to improve leadership visibility of cash flow, especially forecasts, as well as workforce management and revenue projections.
Analytics tend to function best when the accounting department has been properly modernized, especially in terms of reporting, document management and workflows. Companies need to learn to walk before they can run with modern technologies, and the time is now to get moving on these projects. Analytics are expected to separate the winners from the losers in virtually every industry throughout the next few years.
At the end of the day, accounting leaders are responsible for both the daily performance of their departments and the long-term financial stability of their organizations. Orchestrating massive overhauls of process policies, implementation of new technologies and more can leave very little time in the day to focus on core tasks and responsibilities. This is why so many firms have leveraged the support of a managed service provider to tackle the technical side of the equation of late.
To learn how PaperSave can help your business capture, integrate and automate your business processes, feel free to watch our personalized demonstration or visit our case studies page to read about our clients' success stories.