Companies sometimes resist the use of automation tools because they can replace jobs currently held by people. However, while these automated tools and processes can mimic some of the tasks that humans do, they actually free up workers. Additionally, automation tools can increase efficiency and productivity, reduce errors, and deliver data-driven insights that would otherwise be overlooked.
In functional areas like accounting, automation tools are something new staff members welcome and expect. For example, a 2018 survey of prospective accounting graduates found that 71% of them link automated processes and technology to future success in the profession. About 67% of attendees also agreed that technology helps them get their jobs done faster.
Niche Automation Tools to Save Your Accounting Team
Technology will help speed up business work – and the C suite is starting to agree. According to a study by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, more than 50% of senior executives plan to develop comprehensive automated accounting systems. Currently, automation tools cover several areas of accounting and cover various functionalities. This includes everything from payroll to invoicing and project management. Here are four categories of niche automation tools that can help improve the performance of your accounting team.
1. Tax return for digital content
Digital content is everywhere. Blog posts, YouTube videos, downloadable music files, and other creations are widely accessible. However, many individuals and businesses are putting this content online for monetization. They can create the content themselves, but many use production studios, artists, and other creators. This means that there are other people and entities to pay fees or royalties.
It is also necessary to know what content generates revenue, how much and from which platforms. Digital rights management platforms and revenue reporting tools can automate these processes for your accounting team. They won’t have to manually enter data into a spreadsheet to calculate revenue for each piece of content. Revenue reporting tools can also automate the fees your business owes producers and creative collaborators.
One example is Aux Mode, a DRM platform that has developed revenue reporting software to calculate these numbers and help monetize your YouTube content. Your accounting team can generate reports that show individual income for different pieces of content. These reports can break down income by title or series. Automated reporting tools can also reveal trends in the number of views, overall revenue, and amounts generated over different time periods.
2. Expense management for projects
Many businesses, such as those in the construction industry, generate income and incur expenses based on separate projects or jobs. Automation tools that integrate project management and accounting functionality help track transactions within individual projects. Normally, your accounting team would spend hours associating expense reports and other transactions with certain jobs.
Now, software like Jonas Premier or Acumatica will automatically perform these tasks and ensure that expenses are reconciled with the right project. This saves your accounting employees time and eliminates the drudgery that can accompany repetitive tasks. Built-in expense and project management tools can also reduce the risk of errors. Your team won’t have to research why some invoices come in and how to charge them.
Tools that combine project and expense management tasks allow project managers and accounting teams to collaborate better. Project managers can track the progress of tasks and see what may be delaying the payment of supplier invoices. Accountants can also better anticipate expenses and payments. Both teams can see how individual projects or jobs contribute to the company’s overall revenue.
3. Credit card management and reconciliation
Credit cards are a convenient way for businesses to manage payments, including incidental employee expenses. These incidentals can include business travel expenses, such as hotel rooms, rental cars, and gasoline. Incidental expenses can also include everything from office supplies to break room snacks. However, managing, tracking, and reconciling credit card payments from multiple employees can become a tedious headache for accounting teams.
Detecting fraud, errors and potential misuse are additional tasks your accounting staff may be spending too much time on. Possible mistakes and abuse can be easy to miss when employees are already dispersed. Fortunately, there are digital accounting tools to handle many of these tasks and workflows.
Your accounting teams can use credit card reconciliation and management software like Fyle or Abacus to detect errors and fraudulent transactions. The software can do this on an ongoing basis rather than having employees check for issues during the close process. You can configure these tools to reconcile credit card transactions with statements each month. Accounting teams won’t have to sort through documents and numerous spreadsheets, reducing the risk of additional errors.
4. Cash flow management and forecasting
A critical aspect of an accountant’s job is knowing how much money your business has. Your business must meet its financial obligations, and poor cash flow management can lead to missed payments. In the extreme, insufficient cash flow management can lead to insolvency. Keeping track of what goes in and out helps you maintain a comfortable amount of reserves.
Sometimes it can be difficult for accounting teams and policy makers to see what is contributing to cash flow issues. These problems can result from the combined effects of unforeseen expenses and too many bills due simultaneously. A slow accounts receivable process could also be a contributing factor. Technology can eliminate blind spots by synchronizing all the processes and factors that determine a company’s cash flow.
Automated tools like CashAnalytics and HighRadius can help you manage and forecast your cash flow, producing forecasts in real time and for the future. As a result, your accounting team and leaders will get a macro and micro view of what impacts the organization’s cash flow.
This allows the team to make more informed decisions about whether the terms of the receivables should change. Executives will see if there is sufficient expected cash flow for facility expansion or other investment projects. The overall accuracy of data regarding the financial health of your business will improve.
Letting go of tasks and workflows to technology can cause feelings of anxiety in some employees. They may fear that their position will disappear or that the nature of their work will change. While it is true that automation can and does alter the tasks people perform, it also creates meaningful work opportunities.
Your accounting teams are no exception. Armed with unique automation tools, they can move away from tasks that cause boredom, frustration, and morale. They will be able to save time, do more and increase data accuracy. Most importantly, they will feel more empowered and free to use their advanced skills.
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