Businesses today are undergoing rapid transformation with advancements in the world of technology and communication. Finance and accounting departments across the globe are exploring the current automation options to carry out tasks that were once done manually, while robots are revolutionizing the role of the accounting professional.
But with all this automation, where do people fit in? Despite all the advances in technology, the responsibilities of an experienced finance or accounting professional remain essential. Will Accounting Teams Become Obsolete Due to Increasing use of Automation?
The Increasing Use of Automation
It’s a common question. With many of the tasks of a modern F&A department (from data entry and invoicing to reporting and analyzing.) considered low-impact, accounting leaders often ask which items can be automated. However, people are still a huge part of the process, even at the low-impact task level. Here’s why.
As FINTECH (Financial Technology) proliferates the market, time-intensive tasks can be completed via software while the role of an accountant is elevated. Let’s take, for example, the procure-to-pay process, i.e. purchasing of products and services.
While software can perform some actions necessary to complete the process (creating purchase orders, processing payment), professionals are necessary to follow through with these orders. Technology makes the process run more smoothly, but people make it happen. So what’s the best way to distribute tasks between your software and your team?
Plan Ahead Which Tasks to Automate
The new world is all about data analyzing, data modeling, business intelligence, and data governance. Company financial officers should chart out a plan to bifurcate tasks which they would like to be done with automation vs. those that could be completed by a team or even a third party.
Artificial intelligence can act as a catalyst, helping increase the speed, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of business but tasks such as data entry, transaction support, and general accounting must still be completed manually. When software and your current team aren’t quite enough, Finance & Accounting Outsourcing (FAO) firms can fill the gaps with qualified talent for the best of all worlds.
Use Software at Its Highest Impact
Finance officers often spend much of their time on low-impact tasks when they’d really like to be studying and analyzing data, strategy creation and value-added activities. Automation can help in creating a streamlined payment process and save time for accountants to concentrate on big data and provide real-time data updates on vendor relationships and financial issues. But without a team to analyze the data, an investment in software could be wasted.
Be sure to use technology that your team can easily learn and adapt to, while also keeping a right-sized staff to make the investment worthwhile.
Empower Your Team By Focusing on What Matters Most
When your team is overburdened by low-impact tasks, software can’t necessarily alleviate all the pressure. By using a combination of software and third-party help, you can make your team more efficient, take tasks off their plate and automate your process with technology. Determine what can be kept in-house and what can be outsourced to a BPO with a specialization in accounting for optimal results.