IT Automation: How it works and why you need it in your accountancy firm.

12th Nov 2021
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Accountancy Manager
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The explosion of technology in accounting has helped firms increase efficiency in a variety of ways. However, does it sometimes feel challenging to harness that power?

We recently asked the question Is Technology Holding your Practice Back and wanted to delve further into IT Automation and how it’s an important feature of any successful accountancy practice (especially one that’s undergoing digital transformation due to Maxing Tax Digital).

It’s not just about IT automation though, it’s about orchestrating it where automation works together across the whole business creating even greater efficiencies.

If you’re considering IT automation, let this article be your guide. Here we will explain what IT automation is, explore the benefits and share tips for getting started.

Firstly, what is IT automation?

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What are the benefits?

The implementation of automation technologies, techniques and processes bring a host of benefits:

  1. Increase speed and efficiency
  2. Save money and resources
  3. Enhance security
  4. Create fewer errors

The accountancy industry is at a crossroad – evolve or be left behind. With increasing client demands alongside old-fashioned processes, the industry is in trouble of stagnating. In order to meet new expectations of both clients and the industry especially with the introduction of Making Tax Digital, now is definitely the right time to get on board with automation. Many other industries like investment bankers have been doing it for years already, so it’s time for the accountancy industry to get onboard.

Once you have the foundations of good IT, practice management and support in place, you can turn your attention to the exciting world of automation. Accountants have barely scratched the surface of what’s possible with automation but are beginning to see the value in these projects.

Traditionally accountants ensure that background admin is covered in their billing model therefore automating these tasks gives room to add so much more value, meet client expectations, and in turn increase billable time. Imagine being able to trust that a client’s details have been updated in all systems during onboarding and there are no errors. This is where the automation opportunities lie. With modern-day solutions, this way of working is becoming increasingly popular and productive for many accountants.

The foundation of this approach starts with practice management. There are many cloud-based solutions on the market that enable accountants to organise their practice, streamline their internal process and reduce the administrative burden placed on the team.

To further improve internal processes, AccountancyManager (UK's leading onboarding and practice management software) enables users to automate areas of running a practice that no longer requires a human to process. Such as chasing books and records from clients, following up professional clearance or reminding clients to pay their tax.

Employees and change

Most employees don’t like change however as they start to realise that automation is on the horizon, they need to be reassured that the purpose of these projects is to be able to increase customer base, without having to take on further headcount, and the only thing they will be losing is the dull, mundane parts of their job. 

To begin the journey, we would advise you to speak to an IT service provider who can give you insight into choosing the right tool for your practice.  Yes, there are out of the box solutions available however an IT strategy to adopt automation and orchestrate it across your firm is the best way forward.

We'd recommend involving your team in the process. Ask for their opinions and thoughts on the current areas that could be improved and discuss the proposed options with them. Ultimately the team and their attitude towards the proposed solution will decide if it's successful or not. 

Automation has the ability to truly transform business practice and processes. It can remove that layer of inefficient, costly tasks that are often open to errors and inaccuracies. Naturally, humans are not good at repetitive processes and consistent behaviour in doing tasks and because of this reason errors happen.

Done correctly automation could make a real impact on your firms’ growth plans. You could read this, take an action to learn more and in a matter of weeks could be seeing real business and bottom-line benefits. All the while it has relativity minimal impact on your employees, apart from freeing up their time and having no impact to the systems they use daily.

Sometimes the argument against automation is that clients value the personal touch. This is true; people buy from people, and the relationships that accountants build with their clients is integral to the advice they provide. However, the areas where automation is possible are the areas that don't add value, that no longer need human intervention - reminders, chasing messages - the sort of communication with clients that adds no value to the relationship; therefore there's little point in investing the time in this process. 

Accountants and many other professional services rely on teams of people to complete manual tasks for business processes, such as reviewing, gathering, inputting data between systems, products and portals. The industry is a spreadsheet haven of manual tasks.

The digital front door

Among the many automation opportunities within a practice, one of the largest is the standardisation of information sharing for data entry from customers. Having a single location for every form of communication between your practice and your customers improves the customer experience and is the launchpad for the standardisation necessary to adopt automation on a significant scale.

​​With the apps and solutions available within the accounting ecosystem today, it's essential for both reducing admin time and improving accuracy that the solutions you adopt talk to one another. 

At this point if you are picturing the room of IT developers you will need to employ, then remove this vision.

Focus Technology Solutions recently worked on a project to tailor software to create efficiencies in the customer service department for Mazuma Money.  Read our case study here: Mazuma Money Casestudy

Want to see how automation could help your practice? Contact us. Our team of tech experts can suggest the apps and tools to use with your current systems and are happy to answer any questions you have.

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