The Weekly Ledger No. 70: Accounting Software & Technology

October 6, 2022 Theresa Rex

Accounting firm using software and technology to resolve issues

Welcome to The Ledger where we sum up the latest finance and accounting news for you. This week, we've rounded up everything finance leaders need to know about software and technology in today's accounting function. Read on to learn how finance leaders can focus on tech to combat the talent shortage, how technology gaps are affecting controllership and what leaders will need to keep in mind when it's time to decide whether people — or software — should perform certain accounting tasks.

The Weekly Ledger accounting software & technology

A Focus on Tech Skills in Accounting Could Alleviate Hiring Headaches for CFOs

When it comes to the talent shortage in accounting and finance — including its root causes and potential solutions — there's a lot to unpack (which is exactly what we did in our recently released Accounting Talent Outlook Survey Report). But CFOs who turn their attention and widen their focus to candidates with technology skills beyond accounting software know-how can gain a competitive edge.

Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Deloitte.com and tech-focused career site Dice.com help tell the story of why, revealing three important things about the labor market and accounting talent pipeline in particular:

  • CFO priorities for human capital are shifting: To steward their organizations through uncertain times, 23 percent of CFOs say they are eyeing measures like reducing headcount, slowing hiring and finding ways to increase productivity, including leveraging technology.

  • Tech layoffs are deepening the talent pool: As the number of accounting vacancies continue to outnumber candidates in the pipeline qualified to fill them, the flow of highly-skilled tech workers into the labor market is starting to look like a firehose — 41,000 highly skilled tech workers have been laid off with more announced each day. The market they're joining, meanwhile, is far smaller this month than last, with 10 million less jobs added, the lowest since mid-2021.

  • Fintech candidates are moving to traditional finance roles: Both big tech and fintech job hunters are looking to move into industries they perceive as stable, and organizations within the finance industry are seeing an influx in tech-trained job hunters.

The opportunity here is pretty brilliant, actually. Just as CFOs look to add technology and shift hiring priorities, tech-skilled workers — who are potentially more easily trained in finance than finance workers might be in technology and accounting software — are polishing their resumes. Take a closer look at industry-agnostic technology skills that could alleviate CFO hiring headaches, read the full article at CFODive.com.

Accounting Software Has Become a Multifaceted Solution for Multitasking Teams

On the other side of the interview table, CPAs and accounting professionals have found a "bright spot" in the uncertain labor market with extremely marketable technology skills as they increasingly become internal — and indispensable — experts in the accounting software and ERP tools used at every point of the finance function in their organizations.

As accounting professionals are tasked with meeting more of these demands, staying current on industry-standard accounting software allows them to:

  • Communicate clearly: collaborative utilities found in some ERP solutions can include everything from data visualization tools to shared dashboards to track them on.

  • Break down silos: The accounting function is frequently where all other functions in an organization converge, and the right software helps create transparency.

  • Lock down data: Software security has come a long way, which is very good news for sensitive and vulnerable data.

  • Reduce rework time: Increasingly, the ability to automate error-prone and tedious manual tasks comes standards with accounting software and platforms.

Pairing the right people with the proper tools is always a good practice, no matter what job they've set out to do. For finance professionals and leader, those tools can certainly include accounting software and the resources that help them hone their skills for using it. Get the whole story at accountancyage.com.

How Accounting Technology and Data Challenges Affect Controllership

The directive to innovate — and use technology to do it — in the accounting department isn't the sole purview of CFOs anymore. Increasingly, top tier finance leaders are delegating the implementation of technology to capable controllers, who report that the challenges those implementations present are impacting their rapidly-changing role. Here are the top three "roadblocks to transformation" controllers cited in their recent response to a recent Deloitte survey:

  • Limited financial resources – Forty percent of controller respondents said they're grappling with transformation directives because there simply aren't enough financial resources at their disposal.

  • A lack of time – Thirty-three percent said that they lack the time to undertake projects and initiatives required to evolve.

  • A shortage of expertise – Transformation stalled without the organizational expertise to drive progress implementation, according to 33 percent of Deloitte's respondents.

Once you're out of the triage stage of employee disengagement, you can really focus on what makes good employees stay. Deloitte.com has the full controller sentiment report — read it there for an even deeper dive.

Leaders Shouldn’t Lose Sight of What AI Can — And Can't — Do in Accounting

It's clear: to stay competitive, finance and accounting needs to embrace tech, whether it's to stay current or get ahead. But in the rush to update, upgrade and implement, leaders can't lose sight of a simple truth: not everything can be automated or assigned to AI. Some things simply require the kind of judgement and decision-making that only humans can make.

There are plenty of instances of artificial intelligence demonstrating an obvious lack thereof on the record. From the slightly annoying but reversable (toddlers discovering they can order for pounds of cookies from Alexa) to the ethically intolerable (recruiting software that weeded out even the most overqualified woman) to the downright dangerous (self-driving cars accelerating at pedestrians in crosswalks), AI flubs and failures reliably generate bizarre headlines.

Why? Because the decisions algorithms can make are limited by the experience of their human creators. Algorithms and AI are designed to be objective, which is precisely why they shouldn't be tasked with making subjective decisions. When it comes to high-level judgement-based tasks — the kind that facilitate the realization of strategic goals in the finance function — subjectivity and experience are key.

For an in-depth exploration of what AI isn't really ready to do yet — plus four ways to ensure your organization is supplementing machine learning advances with human perspectives to achieve the best possible outcome, read the full article at hbr.org.

Personiv can help you get the most of a people-powered, software-enabled virtual accounting solution. Discover what we can do for you.

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