What Automation Means for Accountants

by J.B. Maverick

2 min read

Automation is changing the field of accounting. Even the Canada Revenue Agency is taking advantage of cost savings from automation. In 2016, the CRA was selected as a finalist in the recognition of a data automation project that resulted in a savings of $3.5 million per year. The CRA’s new financial system automates processes that were traditionally done by paper. Operationally, the automation of the CRA’s financial system allows for faster payments and provides a complete audit trail. Data automation has revolutionized the field of accounting leaving many to wonder about the future of the profession.

The Automation of Accounting

Accounting is a profession that calls for attention to detail and a love of numbers. In essence, like the law, accounting is a language of rules. It is the language of finance. Every month, accountants close the books according to a specific set of rules. The routine was once extremely manual, but in 2017, much of the process is automated. Data and process automation saves time and cuts costs through efficiencies, the reduction of errors, and the elimination of redundancies. For the small business owner, automation isn’t something to be scared of, it’s a tool that helps to centralize functions and create efficiencies. Automation gives small business owners the ability to realize efficiency through scale, even if that scale is crowdsourced.

Automated Data Entry

Many of the accounting documents created by your business are also legal tax documents. Making mistakes on legal tax documents can shut down your business. This is one reason automated data entry is such a common initiative across accounting and compliance departments. The goal is zero manual data entry, which virtually eliminates the traditional role of bookkeeping. It also eliminates redundant processes and improves the security of data in storage by reducing the number of people who require access to critical data systems.

Changing Skill Sets Usher in a New Role for Accountants and Bookkeepers

Data entry isn’t completely automated yet, but the process of automation has been in the works for many years. As a result, a new skill set is emerging that requires more creativity, innovation, leadership, and emotional intelligence in the field of accounting than it did 10 years ago. While there’s a decline in the demand for manual calculation and tax filing skills, there’s an increase in demand for compliance and communication skill sets.As new skill sets evolve, so does the role of the accountant. Accountants are moving into advisory roles as finance becomes increasingly analytical. They are becoming team members in strategic initiatives such as process improvements, capital optimisation, and cost control. As change agents, accountants and bookkeepers are becoming leaders in the organization. The world of accounting is becoming increasingly automated, and the role of the accountant will continue to add value by connecting the dots. This is especially important for businesses with multiple business systems.

Automation: Changing the Field of Accounting

Technology enables small business owners by allowing accounting experts to focus on valued-added support. Some say that automation tools are going to eliminate jobs, but the invention of the calculator did not eliminate the need for bookkeepers in any way. In truth, automation is nothing new to the world of business, especially in the world of accounting, and the role of accountants and bookkeepers will continue to evolve as automation redefines their place in the future.

References & Resources

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