IT service management

IT Service Managment and Automation

December 8, 2017

Is automation good or bad for the accounting sector? IT service management experts say automating basic accounting functions will free CPAs up to expand into new, value-added areas. But last year the Pew Research Center surveyed Americans who believe that within the next 50 years robots will take over most of the basic human functions in the workplace.

Interestingly one of the jobs most at risk from automation is accounting, at least according to a commentary on CNBC. It seems “robo-accounting” is poised to take over A/R, inventory, and auditing – among other traditional CPA functions.

So where does that leave accounting firms?

We believe technology offers more opportunity than threat to accountants, especially if CPAs learn to beat the robots at their own game. This will require the modern accounting firm to learn and embrace the technology that is threatening to make their job functions obsolete. Using automation to streamline a practice will free you to provide more cognitive-heavy services such as enterprise resource or succession planning.

This post explores how automating functions in the CPA practice will enable them to survive industry shifts and provide value-added services to clients.

IT Service Management – Automating Your Practice

A McKinsey study showed that current technology could automate 45% of the activities that people are currently paid to do. In accounting firms, many of the traditional and more tedious tasks could easily be automated, but that isn’t necessarily bad for the industry. Software can now do mundane data entry, freeing accountants to remake themselves under the guise of the trusted advisor.

What this means is that accountants will be freed to move into the space where discussion of planning strategies and business models becomes a standard part of their value-laden service structure.

Here’s an example of how human-driven manual processes can change under business automation:

  • In traditional accounting models, clients would hand deliver or mail paper documentation.
  • If the CPA didn’t receive the right paperwork, they would call the client.
  • Faxing and emailing changed this process, but accountants still manually email or reach out to clients by phone.
  • Once all the paperwork was received, the data was manually entered into accounting software.
  • Accountants would then reconcile the data in yet another manual process.
  • When banks began feeding data to and from accounting firms it eliminated the manual data entry. However, transaction classification, auditing, and reporting were/are still manual.
  • Finally, if a vendor isn’t in a database, accountants email or call them to capture check images or other details.

Here’s how automation can help these processes:

  • In addition to bank transaction details, check images and statement PDFs can all be pushed/pulled automatically with no or few manual processes.
  • Bank information is getting more intuitive; most software uses machine learning to remember vendor or payee transaction data, classifying it automatically.
  • Machine learning automation algorithms can even code transactions by account. The software itself is “smart” and can learn from your past activity, and suggest which account, vendor, or category to use.
  • Secure digital checks can eliminate the need to manually print and mail checks.

Here’s another area to automate: Compliance with sales tax requirements. The New Jersey Society of CPAs published a good article on how software-as-a-service can eliminate the risk that your clients aren’t complying across all jurisdictions.

Get a free assessment to find out where you can automate basic processes to improve your practice.

IT Service Management to Create Value

McKinsey had this to say about automation:

Even when machines do take over some human activities in an occupation, this does not necessarily spell the end of the jobs in that line of work. On the contrary, their number at times increases in occupations that have been partly automated, because overall demand for their remaining activities has continued to grow.

CPA firms must consider automation technology as a partner to enhance the work they were meant to do. As technology evolves to take over more of our daily repetitious work functions, accountants can be empowered to use IT in new ways. Companies like TOSS C3 can work with CPA firms to establish new services lines designed around the analytical insights that create value and differentiate your practice in the marketplace. Our firm can provide IT service management that will help your business grow and evolve to embrace the cloud and digital technology.

TOSS C3 is here for you: Request a quote for workflow automation.

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