From aeronautics to zoology, accounting is tied to virtually every industry. As long as there is money to be made for a product or service, revenue will need to be accounted for. Accounting professionals provide important services such as filing taxes, closing books, and maintaining financial compliance, among others. But today’s accounting professionals often spend most of their time on transactional requirements and repetitive tasks, leaving them little room for making operational and strategic decisions.
Accounting automation, often referred to as Robotic Process Automation or RPA, is the solution to this issue. Whether you are entirely unfamiliar with this concept or you’ve heard about it but aren’t 100% convinced it’s worthwhile for your business, this article just may make you a believer in workflow automation.
What is accounting automation?
Accounting automation is an operational process that leverages software to automatically perform manual tasks. Otherwise known as automated accounting or accounting process automation, accounting automation software takes the work out of paperwork by seamlessly and accurately examining financial statements, computing tax filings, evaluating accounts receivable, inspecting account books, filing paper or electronic documents, and much more.
Automation and AI technology aren’t confined to the future, either; they’re the here and now. Many business owners, who either contract external accounting professionals or have an accounting department, are already automating various accounting tasks. According to Acumen Research and Consulting, the global automation software market is expected to reach a valuation of more than $46 billion within the next five years, an increase of nearly 17% compared to 2020. That’s just for automation software, never mind automation in general.
Accounting automation, or RPA, is as popular as it is today for one simple reason: It works. As is the case in other professions, time is money — the longer it takes to do something, the more it costs. This kind of intelligent automation streamlines work processes, resulting in greater productivity, efficiency, and fewer errors in recording financial data.
Let’s go over these benefits more in-depth and learn how they relate to the challenges that your accounting team and accounting professionals face:
What are the main advantages of accounting automation?
Addresses hiring challenges
In the aftermath of the pandemic and The Great Resignation, in which approximately 47 million people nationwide quit their jobs in 2021 alone, according to CNBC, many business owners are struggling to fill open roles and get more people on their payroll. Manufacturers, retailers, and the hospitality sector have all been hit hard and received a considerable amount of attention from the press. But accounting firms are in a similar bind, particularly CPAs. In an annual survey conducted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, finding qualified staff was cited as a leading issue by CPA firms of various sizes, be they sole practitioners or those with 21 or more staff members.
Since financial automation can operate on its own, tasks that would traditionally be performed by an accounting professional can be conducted via artificial intelligence. Not only that, but RPA software also improves accuracy, which saves time and reduces workloads related to financial reporting.
There’s a reason why the educational journey to becoming an accountant takes as long as it does. When numbers are involved and precision is pivotal, accounting professionals need to know what they’re doing. Their knowledge must extend beyond best practices since their assignments require a great deal of critical thinking.
But at the same time, a considerable portion of their day-to-day accounting tasks are mind-numbingly repetitive. In fact, according to a poll conducted by Kelton Global, a leading global insights firm, the accounting and finance professionals surveyed said they spent more than half of their time in the typical month engaged in repetitive tasks, activities that could be finished easily through workflow automation.
Accounting software eases workloads by systematizing monotonous accounting tasks so they can be completed quickly and autonomously. Instead of manually inputting data and transactions into a spreadsheet, which drains resources, automation does it … automatically. An automated accounting system gives accounting professionals more bandwidth to attend to the affairs requiring greater attention to details, such as client correspondence, providing strategic insights to their employers or clients to enhance revenue, and more.
Improves data quality
Accounting is a specialty; clients and business owners hire accountants because they have a great deal of knowledge about tax law, bookkeeping, reconciliation auditing, and other capabilities. But regardless of their expertise, mistakes happen, and seemingly minor oversights or transposing of numbers can result in enormous complications, even investigations by the Internal Revenue Service.
Automation helps to minimize errors by reducing the need for spreadsheets and manual data entry. This way, it reduces risk and provides more certainty in remaining error-free.
Even though workflow automation and artificial intelligence are both already in place, many are concerned that it won’t be long before automation increases its foothold and winds up replacing large swaths of the labor force, including accounting professionals.
That is highly unlikely in accounting. Accounting software streamlines those repetitive tasks that prevent accountants from attending to the affairs that artificial intelligence can’t replicate, such as strategic initiatives, advising, assessing budgets, and consulting with other financial professionals. Thus, it complements accounting professionals by giving them an extra set of hands so they can focus on more high-value assignments and increase productivity.
Automate accounting with NetSuite
Whether you are looking to optimize your accounting practice or get the accounting portion of your operation addressed so you can focus on your area of expertise, NetSuite is a comprehensive accounting automation solution. Replete with a wide variety of features that address traditional and specialty accounting tasks – such as revenue recognition, expense reporting, journal entries, transaction matching, invoice consolidation, and more — NetSuite is the world’s premiere cloud accounting software, boasting over 31,000 customers worldwide and counting. Inspirage can get you set up with a customized implementation.
Please contact us today to learn more about this accounting automation, or RPA, tool and our other capabilities that can help your business work smarter.