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6 ways automation benefits accountants and SMEs

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Cloud accounting solutions have been growing progressively more important over the years. Automation has become particularly desirable during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With the future uncertain, many businesses are trying to keep their costs to a minimum. So, it might seem nonsensical to invest in accounting automation software, but with 64.4% of SMEs already using accounting software, not investing leaves you at risk of being left behind the rapidly accelerating curve.  

Far from stealing jobs, accounting automation simply reduces the load on accounting professionals. It streamlines repetitive routine tasks where human skill is not necessarily required, freeing up time for accountants to focus on other things, such as business development and strategic planning. 

Here’s how accounting automation will improve your firm or small business and benefit your employees: 

Reduced labour costs 

There is often the fear among employees that automation will replace them, but this is not necessarily the case. Automation allows for the reduction of tasks, not jobs. It works best when applied to repetitive, tedious tasks and is unsuitable for high-level or high-skill activities. 

Artificial intelligence has improved vastly in recent years, but it is yet to become a replacement for the human brain. Many tasks and operations in small businesses still require human input, be it cognitive or physical.  

Benefits for accountants 

Tasks like manual invoicing take numerous steps to complete. Automated accounting software removes all those steps from accountants’ day-to-day, which means they can now focus on business-critical functions. In contrast, the menial tasks, like filing receipts and data capturing, are taken care of.  

Benefits for SMEs 

cloud-based software solution consolidates information into a single user-friendly, easily accessible, and searchable environment, reducing research and admin time so that employees can focus on clients, numbers, or new business prospects. 

Efficiency is the fundamental objective of any technology. Automation increases efficiency exponentially, drastically reducing the time required for tasks. It can aid productivity in small businesses by helping them work through the menial tasks and processes that would ordinarily take hours, days, or even weeks to complete.

Allows for in-depth account analysis 

Accounting automation offers real-time insights that could result in long-term savings. So many businesses fail due to cash flow mismanagement. Having an automated accounting solution allows you to quickly enter approved expenses into the system, reducing the time between paying the credit card and being reimbursed by the client. You can also see the state of your cash flow in real-time. 

Benefits for accountants 

The most significant benefit is that accountants can get to trial balance fast, freeing up their time to advise clients, share valuable insights, and guide them to a healthier balance sheet. This means that they can now earn extra revenue for billable hours, and because they provide such a valuable service, clients will likely refer them.  

Benefits for SMEs 

Having information consolidated in one place allows you to identify trends, such as where you are losing money and where you can save money. A graph depicting a disturbing trend that you might otherwise have missed could save your business, and your staff will have more time to analyse data and trends that could reveal a potential threat or opportunity.

Fast and accurate expense tracking 

Incidental expenses are part of doing business, but they add up. Automated accounting software lets you keep track of these expenses before they spiral out of control. 

Benefits for accountants 

Old-school clients are renowned for dropping off boxes of crumpled and faded receipts at the last minute. With automated accounting software, receipts and invoices can be organised and automatically added to your ledger.  

Benefits for SMEs 

Automated accounting software allows you to photograph and upload receipts and invoices and to document them instantly. This means that you can keep track of spending, avoid losing errant invoices, and reduce clutter.  

If something is easier to do, more people are likely to do it. Once expenses are digitised, you can identify wasted expenditure and areas to cut back where necessary. What’s more, digitisation reduces the risk of human error, resulting in potentially even more savings.  

Promotes financial intelligence 

Automation has the greatest impact on financial intelligence because it allows you to obtain more information more quickly and accurately than you could manually. By downloading or syncing data, you’re able to capture something that you might have missed with manual processes.   

Benefits for accountants 

Automated accounting solutions allow you to move access from the back office into the hands of budget managers and decision-makers. With real-time billing and coding, data is captured more accurately, giving you a true picture of business costs. 

Benefits for SMEs  

Human error is eliminated by software programmes or algorithms. There is always the possibility that a person will make a mistake, no matter how competent or diligent they are. As a result, many errors go unnoticed until they become major problems. These issues can be avoided with automation. Entire processes can also be simplified. Accounting software and other applications can help small businesses improve accuracy, efficiency, and productivity. 

Automation makes remote working possible  

Over the past two years, remote working has become a reality for businesses, whether they were ready for it or not. Although COVID-19 forced remote working, many companies have seen its benefits, including increased productivity, savings from not having to pay rent or utilities, and happier staff.  

According to the Decoding Global Ways of Working study by Boston Consulting Group and The Network, 53% of South Africans prefer a job that allows them to work from home, at least occasionally. The study also found that South Africa is one of the countries that would fully  embrace remote work, with 44% saying they prefer this way of working, compared to a global average of 24%. 

Benefits for accountants 

Accountants and their clients communicate via video conferencing and phone calls and not in person, which eliminates the need for office space, and saves precious time travelling back and forth to the office. Maintaining documents in a shared cloud allows for the easy sharing of invoices and receipts, supports e-signing, and makes remote work practical and accessible to most accounting firms.  

Benefits for SMEs 

Accounting automation makes businesses more agile and competitive. As more work moves online, the need for physical premises is becoming redundant, allowing companies to save on rental and associated costs.  

Improved collaboration and employee morale 

Most employees dislike monotonous and repetitive tasks as they quickly get tedious and offer little in the way of job satisfaction. By automating these tasks, employees gain the time and space to focus on more interesting and productive tasks that may mentally challenge them, resulting in higher job satisfaction. 

Benefits for accountants 

Every business comprises various moving parts, with different teams working on different tasks and responsibilities at once. This is why projects can easily get lost in the humdrum of the everyday. Automation tools can assist in streamlining communication, keeping everyone on the same page, and facilitating collaboration. References to previous approaches and work are securely stored in the cloud, and deadlines are set effortlessly and automatically. With automation, tracking progress and determining where resources can be better allocated becomes much easier. 

Benefits for SMEs 

As automation helps boost employee morale, so too do employees help boost the company culture as a whole. Employees who are stimulated and satisfied with their work are more likely to be invested in creating an enjoyable workplace culture.  

It’s difficult to gain perspective when you’re frenetically trying to stay afloat. Having automated accounting software means that you are less likely to miss something important in your business world. 

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