How digitalisation is changing how accountants do their job
With customers more tech-savvy than ever, it is safe to assume that most companies have implemented digital solutions of varying degrees to meet expectations and streamline business workflows and efficiency. This also means accountants have had no choice but to embrace digitalisation. For the new generation of accounting professionals, digital solutions will be an integral part of their role.
Traditional accounting is administrative-driven and relies heavily on manual calculations and processing of data and records. For example, many accountants still use and rely on Excel, and whilst it has many functions, it also means that the risk of human error is high, which could also be costly for the company. By transitioning to a digital workflow, menial tasks such as data entry and filing can be reduced for greater efficiency and productivity.
Most companies will have adopted cloud technology into their business operations, especially during the pandemic as most have had no choice but to go digital. Opting for cloud-based software means that accountants can essentially go paperless as records, business books, and assets and liabilities can be retrieved and stored online over a secured network.
The number of cloud-based accounting software solutions readily available on the market means accountants can have automated and streamlined invoice processing, expense tracking, tax filing, bookkeeping and payroll in one system.
Why digitalised accounting is better¹:
Improved efficiency and productivity - cloud computing allows for faster turnaround time on tasks as well as better customer service and communication.
Digitalised data means it’s more time-effective and cost-effective for businesses. Companies no longer need to spend on additional materials on filing (which also saves office space) and hiring extra resources for data entry.
Digital bookkeeping helps businesses stay organised and run more efficiently with less room for error. Access to client information when it comes to tax time is also made a lot easier.
Automation of services such as payroll and leave application portals provide a seamless experience which also means less stress when it’s that time of the month. This benefits both the employees and accounting & finance teams who need to process payrolls and manage annual leave records.
With all information updated and processed online, it provides real-time data which enables accountants to provide accurate and detailed financial forecasts and reports for clients.
Storing digital records and files also provides an extra layer of security for sensitive information as hard copies can be lost, stolen or damaged.
Accountants will no longer be tied down to the office as cloud solutions offer flexibility and mobility meaning they can work effectively from anywhere at any anytime (provided there’s an internet connection)
What changes can we expect to see over time in digitalised accounting?
As digitalisation replaces the more manual processes, accountants will see their primary function shift to more of an advisory role. Research focusing on both large and small companies found that junior roles such as accounts assistants or similar which involve repetitive, labour-intensive and time-consuming tasks will likely be replaced with machines².
Junior-level roles will see their core functionalities shift from data processing to data insights and providing input and data to train machines.
Mid-level accounting professionals will probably see the biggest changes. It can be a challenge in changing work practices that have been used for a number of years, therefore transitioning from traditional to digital accounting can be disruptive. There will be a large focus on adapting, understanding, and working with new technology.
Professionals in senior-level roles will play the biggest role in determining the outcome of digitalisation³. There will be a shift in their strategies and action plans as decisions will be heavily influenced by technology. There will be a focus on innovation and implementation of digital solutions to the company to improve productivity and performance.
How can Accountants stay relevant?
Accounting is slowly evolving thanks to digitalisation and whilst it can feel disruptive to those who have been in the accounting profession for years, it is necessary to upskill and evolve to stay relevant. As more junior/entry-level professionals engage in more meaningful tasks, those who viewed accounting as the only career option will be able to explore other professions such as auditing or data analysis, as technical skills can be transferred to different disciplines.
As companies use more technology to replace menial tasks, the role of an accountant will be less administrative and more strategic and analytical. Skills such as problem-solving, strategising, business acumen, and interpersonal skills such as communication can be further developed which can only benefit their careers.
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