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Tech upgrade: modernising the finance function

4th Jun 2024
Brought to you by
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Award-winning cloud accounting software for multi-company businesses.

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As with the rest of the business world, accounting and finance functions have experienced rapid and significant growth in recent years. Spurred on by increasing customer expectations and widening demands, the industry has had to respond with faster, more accurate and more intelligent solutions.  

With growth and evolution, there naturally comes technology. From cloud-based systems to AI, the accounting sector is awash with new tools and solutions, all designed to improve performance and boost efficiency. 

The accounting software market is growing at a rapid rate – it is expected to hit $37.63 billion by 2032 – and this is partly being driven by the mid-market. There is a real demand for mid-sized businesses to have the financial visibility and control needed to scale beyond basic functions without the complexity and cost of ERPs. 

In this article we look at some of the specific ways that the finance and accounting industry is being changed by technological advancements, and the challenges and opportunities that this presents. 

The legacy issue 

The obvious hurdle for finance teams to overcome is the use of legacy systems and traditional working habits. For example, Excel is, quite rightly, a well-established and sturdy tool for finance teams. Yet the limitations of relying on spreadsheets are hindering productivity and holding back finance professionals in their day-to-day work and with their career ambitions.  

Exclusively using spreadsheets increases the chance of errors creeping into datasets, limits the extent of real time data analysis and subsequently adds more pressure to employees’ workloads. Access can also be an issue, whereby only one person knows where a spreadsheet is saved or what the formulas they’ve designed are for. 

Similarly, a CRM system will be used for managing sales enquiries and prospect management, another system for payroll, and another for invoices and expenses. This multi-product structure can inhibit data integration and risk duplication and other errors. 

However, replacing legacy systems isn’t as easy as it may sound. Even though many team members may be convinced of the need to upgrade, there will commonly be a number of people in the business who are resistant to change. As such, immediately introducing new working practices and platforms will likely overwhelm staff and your business. To create change, you must show the benefits of what it can do, and this takes time and patience.  

The power of automation 

One of the benefits of cloud-based accounting software is that it allows finance teams to harness automation. Through automating monotonous manual processes such as data entry and reporting, teams can revolutionise how they operate, using their newfound time to make crucial business decisions and contribute to strategic planning. This process automation includes activities such as the processing of supplier invoices, matching against purchase orders, bank reconciliation, intercompany transactions and revenue recognition – and it can eradicate days of manual work each month.  

What’s more, the latest cloud platforms not only automate these tasks but provide access to real-time data and analytics. They leverage custom APIs to form deep integrations with CRM, inventory, payment platforms, and a host of other business systems to paint a real-time unified picture across the organisation and remove the need for the manual re-keying of data from one system to another. This one source of the truth approach can direct decision-making and help teams to improve the overall financial performance of their business.  
The implementation of new tech is only the start though. Staff need ongoing training and support to feel confident in the tech and how it will enhance their role; tech needs to be gradually integrated into workflows and adaptable to employees, and the company needs to deliver value. That way, finance leaders can gradually bring everyone on board with a tech-powered strategy.  

Looking to the future: the AI opportunity 

While tech has already transformed traditional financial processes, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are now set to dramatically upgrade these processes, shaping a more competitive and value-driven landscape. Gartner predicts that 80% of large enterprise finance teams will use internal AI platforms by 2026.  

Although not commonly in place within the accounting function yet, AI capabilities are advancing at a fast rate, so businesses who upgrade to a clou-based model will be best-placed to adapt quickly to these changes when they inevitably arrive. 

While other sectors may grapple with broader AI concerns such as bias, hallucinations and data privacy, the accounting sector is in a relatively good position to take advantage of it. AI works best when it is utilised for specific use cases, such as automation of processes and data analysis, and to act as a stimulus for ideas. This of course sits perfectly with many accounting tasks.  

Technology for good 

While all the tech available to the finance function has great capabilities, its use and implementation also require a robust strategy and governance framework to avoid hindering, not driving, innovation. This success also rests on broader industry and societal regulations to oversee its development.  

It’s up to CFOs and company leaders to ensure they are future-proofing their businesses with the best tools and teams they can, and grasping the opportunities that await them with both hands. 

About AccountsIQ   

This article is brought to you by AccountsIQ, scalable cloud accounting software for midsize companies looking to switch to advanced accounting software. Built for the cloud, AccountsIQ is in use in 85+ countries by over 20,000 users and is now the solution-of-choice for many of the world’s leading accounting practices.   

For further information on how AccountsIQ might work for your growing business please feel free to contact us and we would be happy to discuss your needs.   

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