Who doesn’t want to work less, yet achieve the same number of things – if not more? As an accountant, you need to reduce manual data entry. It’s a time sink that eats the resources of a practice. We could discuss machine learning or artificial intelligence (AI) as a solution for this. But the reality is it’s all about reducing the drudgery – and manual data input, in particular. Automation is key. If the majority of your work is automated then you’ll be freed up to advise and offer more value to your clients.
The new wave of automation for accountants focuses on taking care of payments, bills, invoices, receipts, purchase orders and more. Somebody has to tell the system all about these, even if that’s just coding one line in a ledger against another. The breakthrough in recent times is that the computer can do that manual work. Below are some simple tips and tricks to help your team implement automated accounting practices to save your business time and money.
1. Take snapshots on your phone
The mobile phones most of us carry daily are central to removing much of the drudgery and introducing automation. Our phones double up as high-resolution digital cameras (even on the cheapest phone nowadays). It’s possible to use apps to take a snapshot of receipts as soon as they’re received, even while still in a shop. The details are then extracted automatically by the app, such as the point of sale date and the amount. If you tie in the phone app with your main cloud accounting software then it will automatically send them across. Congratulations, you’ve just done some accounting. While doing this within your own practice accounting is wise, encouraging your clients to use this kind of technology can be a game changer. You won’t have to worry about that handful of clients dumping a carrier bag of receipts on your desk during the busy tax return season. With accounting practices spending endless hours on manual data entry during tax season, this will be a big time saver for you.
2. Auto-reconcile paperwork
You can take snapshots of statements, invoices, bills and more. There’s also the option to use a scanner such as that built into printers or photocopiers. If these have a document feeder mechanism, you can just place a pile of papers on top and then leave them to be scanned one by one. All these document types can be understood by AI software within apps and cloud software to extract the relevant details. Combined with the fact that invoices are often sent electronically nowadays – perhaps as PDFs via email – this provides the ability to automatically reconcile and code within the accounting software. For example, open purchase orders can be automatically matched to invoices. Invoices can be matched to received payments within bank account ledgers. Its important for a team member to review this process but the drudgery of taking a stack of papers and coding/matching everything against the accounts system can be eliminated. While a human still has to manage the system with oversite, those who use this technology report that it reduces weeks of manual data entry down to just a few days each month.
3. Take payments electronically
Invoices aren’t what they used to be. Nowadays, the cloud based business management lets you send an invoice electronically – and include a link within the file or email to pay the invoice there and then. Add in the fact that accounting software will even let you track when the invoice was viewed by the recipient, and the client really has no excuses left that can delay payment. They can’t say they didn’t receive the invoice, or that they haven’t seen it. They can’t claim that it wasn’t obvious how they should pay. Some payment solutions even incorporate the Apple Pay and Google Pay systems, so the individual can pay instantly on their mobile or smartwatch, without even having to reach into their wallet or purse for a credit or debit card. And, of course, because there’s no paperwork involved, there’s no need to enter any data manually once the payment has been received. Tie it in with your practice management solution and the invoice can even be issued automatically once the work is completed. This level of automation requires no manual processing anywhere in the payment collection process.
Accounting practices are again undergoing a digital revolution. To ignore the benefits of automation is to lose a significant competitive advantage, as well as the potential to save time and money. Automating manual processes and repetitive tasks can give you the time you need to deliver amazing experiences for your clients and team. You can grow your practice with the peace of mind that the capture, processing and retention of paperwork are automatically taken care of. If you are looking to implement solutions and processes to help automate and streamline your accounting processes give us a call at 855.876.3773 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.