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Should you trust accounting automation?

28th Apr 2023
Brought to you by
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Aurelia are the automation and software experts for accountants and finance leads. We want to to...
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You probably know by now that accounting automation won’t wipe accountancy, as a profession, off the face of the earth. You’re also aware that the human eye and attention are fallible. Computers are doing a much better job at repetitive tasks that involve no thought and a lot of data. Then why are so many accountants still hesitant about automation? The more we talked to accountants, the more we realised that the distrust was somewhat justified. Let’sunpack if there’s really anything to worry about and how you could tackle any automation-related doubts head on.

Should you trust accounting automation? | Aurelia on AccountingWeb

Managing change

Introducing any new tool to your practice and your team will always be a hassle. The bigger the practice and the more clients, the bigger the challenge. That’s why, despite clear benefits, a lot of accountants are still hesitant to move on. For smaller practices, the accountant often handles the set-up, which takes away from client time and eats into free time. Vendors that don’t offer continued support after the contract is signed only worsen the situation. Unfortunately, this is becoming a trend with some of the market leaders who feel comfortable in their position.

If you're hesitant to adopt automation because of this, we recommend the following:

  • Make implementation and customer support a priority when picking a tool. When talking to the sales team, ask about the help to get you onboard and ongoing support. 
  • Try the tool yourself or with a long-term tech-savvy client during a trial period to work out any issues and make the migration smooth for your entire client base.
  • Migrate in the summer. Late spring and summer are usually quieter periods, allowing you to set aside time to look for new software and implement it.

Automation that’s full of pitfalls 

Pitfalls of one automation tool, especially a horizontal one like Zapier that’s been put in the accounting world, don’t apply to all automation tools out there, especially if they were purpose-built for finance. But we understand the frustration you feel when you thought you were making your work easier but instead got yourself a limited, complicated, and unreliable tool. Those experiences create an expectation that accounting automation tools are terrible, don’t save time, and fail more often than they work. Rather than relying on automation horror stories you’ve heard from industry colleagues, be aware of the common pitfalls of automation tools and learn to stay clear of them:

  • Limited integrations: Without a rich offering of integrations, the automation software will become useless as your practice and client-base grow.
  • Complicated set-up: If you either struggle to make sense of the steps in the workflow you’ve designed, or you need a full implementation team to get your practice started on a new tool, it’s probably a smart idea to look elsewhere.
  • Frequent failures: Automation failures occur when the set-up is wrong or integrations are down. System outages in accounting are common, so it can cause unwanted events. If you miss something when setting up your automated workflow, the workflow won’t run, and you will lose data and waste time trying to uncover what went wrong. Most tools won’t let you rerun the same flow retrospectively, once all is fixed. Pick an automation tool like Aurelia, that gives you the ability to test and see a detailed breakdown of each workflow run to catch mistakes before they turn into disasters.

We’d encourage you to look also at younger companies that are more nimble in their approach to product development and customer support. They are more likely to listen to your product feedback so you won’t have to wait for a requested feature for years and provide a hands-on customer experience as they care about their users and growth more than revenue control or predictability as it is often the case with larger vendors. 

Don’t lose the human touch

We’ve heard a lot recently that accounting firms feel like they are putting too much software between them and their clients. As a result, they are losing the hands-on experience many clients are still looking for. Just as your colleagues you probably care about your clients and genuinely want them to do well. You may be used to calling them to ask for bank statements, invoices and on the same call answer some of their questions and give guidance. When all happens through apps and digital tools it’s easy to lose this human interaction piece of the client-accountant relationship. We do believe that you can adopt automation and still deliver a very personable service, if not even more personable than before. 

Accounting support does not end with bookkeeping and tax compliance.You can still deliver massive value to your clients if you embrace automation. With the usual copy and paste, manual data entry tasks automated you should have more time and brainpower to analyse your clients’ financial data and provide them with solid, actionable advice. If you really get into tech and automation, you can even help them set up a tech stack for their financial operations. You can still deliver massive value to your clients if you embrace automation. 

Automation won’t put a wall between you and your clients. It will in fact bring you closer as long as you play your cards right. 

Final word

You need to and should be able to rely on your tech stack 100%. No wonder a lot of accountants have grown weary of accounting automation in the world with half-baked solutions that add hassle and don’t make you more efficient. So does that mean you should avoid automation in your work? 

The answer is no. Quite on the contrary, you should embrace it if you want to keep attracting clients and keep progressing your career. Automation tools are here to stay - they may not be flawless, but they are getting better. It's worth keeping an eye out on innovators that care about the quality of the product and trying to solve real problems. Don’t give up, better automation is coming. 

PS. And we may be onto something here at Aurelia. We’re building an end-to-end accounts payable solution that combines invoice collection, OCR, reconciliation and payments, all in one platform. We have also created a feature that lets you build custom workflows to automate accounts receivable for e-commerce. Curious to learn more? Follow us on LinkedIn where we share regular updates on our product journey or visit our website.

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