You’ve probably heard the buzz around the many benefits of automating your accounting processes—improved accuracy, significant time savings, and reduced operational costs, to name a few. But when’s the right time to make an investment in accounting automation? What does transitioning from a manual to automated system entail? Is accounting software or a cloud-based financial management system the solution to your department’s growing pains?
More and more accounting professionals are tackling these questions, and with good reason: they need to keep their operations up-to-date and aligned with overall business goals. When it comes time to evaluate your processes and make decisions regarding your next steps, consider the impact that automation can make on your team’s efforts and your company’s bottom-line.
When It’s Time to Automate
When an accounting department relies on manual processes for posting payables and receivables, printing and mailing checks, distributing and mailing invoices, plugging numbers into pie charts, employees have little time to add the kind of value that’s needed to take the company to the next level.
Today, you might be using spreadsheets and paper-based processes to manage your accounting functions. This method used to meet your day-to-day needs, but as the business grows it’s showing its limitations: not keeping pace with changes in goals or processes, not handling increased and more complex data needs, and leaving your records vulnerable to costly human error. While you may have outgrown your existing labor-intensive systems, hiring new employees to handle the influx of accounting work isn’t economically feasible. It seems the more there is to do, the less efficient your workflow becomes.
Making The Transition With Technology
The digitization of data is what moves a process from manual to automatic and puts accounting functionality in front of more people without the need for new hires. The capabilities afforded by automation technology—the interconnectivity of business systems and streamlining of manual processes—boosts productivity and frees up the time and energy of your financial accounting team so they’re able to focus on strategic initiatives like understanding business drivers and applying them to process improvement and more effective communication.
Here are examples of processes you can automate that can make the significant impact on workflow and productivity:
- Accounts Receivable. Create an invoice that’s automatically recorded in the customer’s account, flag late payments, send overdue reminders, and get paid faster.
- Accounts Payable and Purchasing. Submit purchase requisitions that are routed for approval through a workflow and validated against an available budget. Route invoices through a workflow process and matched to the purchase order.
- Financial Reporting. Schedule reports to run and e-mail to a list of recipients, and give decision-makers 360-degree visibility into operational information they need to remain agile and responsive to business opportunities.
- Expense Management. Automatically create, submit, approve, track, and reconcile expense reports—and gain insights into projects and customers.
- Bank Reconciliation. Match and reconcile transactions between your
general ledger control account and bank account, saving hours of employee time.
Modern accounting solutions add value because they do more than maintain accounting records—they automate multiple processes, integrate with other business systems (such as CRM, project management and payroll systems), and they push insightful information to decision makers. Standardization of your processes also enables you avoid costly mistakes and to achieve compliance with accounting standards in the most efficient way possible
Accounting Automation Solutions
The two most popular ways to automate your processes are with on premise and cloud-based accounting systems. Accounting software usually include basic, core functionality (e.g. A/R, A/P, billing, purchase orders) and can be fully customized for specific business needs with the integration of additional modules (e.g. electronic payment processing, payroll, project accounting, advanced revenue management, consolidations, etc.). While on premise accounting systems are implemented on a company’s servers, users often use supplementary web-based tools for anytime, anywhere access to their data and dashboards.
With a cloud-based financial and accounting management service, your data is stored on remote, secure servers maintained by the software provider. Cloud-based systems are highly scalable, which enable you to expand or contract as needed, without the need for new in-house hardware and server resources. Users can access cloud-based services remotely and on any device at any time, making it easy to manage from multiple offices.
Leaders of best-in-class accounting departments are turning to technology to automate processes ranging from bookkeeping to financial reporting, and they are reaping the rewards of better scalability and enhanced visibility. By turning their functional, “back-office” area of accounting into a front-office powerhouse of financial information and insight, they’re helping to drive business growth—meaningfully contributing to the future of their organization.
Learn more and register for a free webcast, “Automating Your Accounting Processes to Drive Growth and Efficiency,” scheduled for Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 1:00 ET.