Companies sometimes resist the use of automation tools because they may replace jobs currently filled by people. However, while these tools and automated processes can replicate some of the tasks humans do, they actually free workers. In addition, automation tools can increase efficiency and productivity, reduce errors, and provide data-driven insights that would otherwise get overlooked.
In functional areas such as accounting, automation tools are something incoming staff members welcome and expect. For example, a 2018 survey of soon-to-be accounting graduates revealed 71% linked automated processes and tech with the profession’s future success. About 67% of participants also agreed that technology helps them get their work done faster.
Niche Automation Tools to Save Your Accounting Team
Tech will help get business work done faster — and the C-suite is beginning to agree. According to a study by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, more than 50% of top executives foresee developing complete automated accounting systems. Currently, automation tools span multiple areas of accounting and cover various features. This includes everything from payroll to invoicing and project management. Here are four niche automation tool categories that can help boost your accounting team’s performance.
1. Revenue Reporting for Digital Content
Digital content is everywhere. Blog posts, YouTube videos, downloadable music files, and other creations are widely accessible. However, many individuals and companies put this content online to monetize it. They may create the content by themselves, but many enlist the help of production studios, performers, and other creatives. This means there are other individuals and entities to pay fees or royalties to.
There’s also the need to track which 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 revenues for each piece of content. Revenue reporting tools can also automate the fees your company owes to producers and creative collaborators.
One example is Aux Mode, a DRM platform that developed revenue reporting software to calculate these figures and help monetize your YouTube content. Your accounting team can generate reports that show the individual revenues from different pieces of content. These reports can break down the income per title or series. Automated reporting tools can also reveal trends in the number of views, overall revenues, and amounts generated during various periods.
2. Expense Management for Projects
Many firms, such as those in the construction industry, generate revenues and incur expenses according to separate projects or jobs. Automation tools that integrate project management and accounting features 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 expenses get reconciled with the correct project. This saves your accounting employees time and eliminates the drudgery that can come with repetitive tasks. Integrated expense and project management tools can also reduce the chance errors will happen. Your team won’t have to investigate why certain invoices are coming through and how to expense them.
Tools that combine project and expense management tasks allow project managers and accounting teams to collaborate better. Project leaders can track the progress of tasks and see what may be holding up vendors’ invoice payments. Accounting managers can also better anticipate expenses and payouts. Both teams can see how individual projects or jobs are contributing 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 costs for business travel, such as hotel rooms, rental cars, and gas. 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.
Catching fraud, errors, and potential misuse are additional tasks that your accounting staff may be spending too much time on. Mistakes and possible abuse can be easy to miss when employees are already spread thin. Fortunately, there are digital accounting tools to handle many of these tasks and workflows.
Your accounting teams can use credit card management and reconciliation software like Fyle or Abacus to catch mistakes and fraudulent transactions. The software can continuously do this rather than having employees double-check for problems during the closing process. You can configure these tools to reconcile credit card transactions against statements each month. Accounting teams won’t have to sort through paperwork and numerous spreadsheets, reducing the chances of additional errors.
4. Cash Flow Management and Predictions
A critical aspect of an accountant’s job is knowing how much cash your company has on hand. Your company needs to meet its financial obligations, and poor cash flow management can lead to missed payments. At its extreme, insufficient cash flow management can cause insolvency. Keeping track of what’s coming in and going out helps you maintain a comfortable amount of reserves.
Sometimes it can be difficult for accounting teams and decision-makers to see what’s contributing to cash flow problems. These issues might arise from the combined effects of unexpected expenses and too many invoices due simultaneously. A slow accounts receivable process could also be a contributing factor. Technology can eliminate blind spots by syncing all the processes and factors that determine a company’s cash flow.
Automated tools like CashAnalytics and HighRadius can help manage and predict 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’s impacting the organization’s cash on hand.
This enables the team to make more informed decisions about whether the terms for receivables need to change. Executives will see whether there’s enough expected cash flow for facility expansions or other capital projects. The overall accuracy of the data concerning your company’s financial health will improve.
Surrendering job tasks and workflows to technology can produce feelings of anxiety in some employees. They may worry that their positions will go away or that the nature of their work will change. While it’s true that automation can and does change the tasks people do, it also creates opportunities for meaningful work.
Your accounting teams are no exception. Armed with unique automation tools, they can move away from the tasks that cause boredom, frustration, and lowered morale. They’ll be able to save time, do more, and increase data accuracy. Most importantly, they’ll feel more empowered and free to use their advanced skills.
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