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The best automation software is the kind you don’t notice

22nd Feb 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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Tech companies like to make their products look exciting, with beautiful interfaces and impressive features. But with truly effective software, you shouldn’t notice it’s there at all. 

Of course, having a nice-looking interface is never a bad thing – and user experience is always important. But behind that smart appearance, you should also have powerful functionality. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Once set up, your processes should run in the background while you get on with the day-to-day, giving you the flexibility to adapt them and the freedom to forget they exist at all.

Best automation software is the one you don't notice | Aurelia on AccountingWeb
Michael Dziedzic

Is your software really saving you time?

Accountants have been sold technology on the promise that it’ll save hours of time and make their work more efficient. Automations should take care of mundane tasks so you can focus on more valuable work – it’s a popular mantra among tech enthusiasts.

But many practices are finding that they’re no less busy than they were before, or that any extra time they’ve gained through automation is quickly eaten up by checking that the technology is working as it should, correcting system errors, and fixing any incorrect information it produces.

That’s not to mention the investment of time in learning to use the software, training their team, and onboarding clients. All considered, some accountants have been left wondering why they shouldn’t do the work manually, when it would take them a matter of minutes to fill out the same information in a spreadsheet.

Much of the time, the problem is that the software isn’t fit for purpose, or that it’s been implemented without first considering the underlying system or process it’s intended to support.

At Aurelia, we ask ourselves a key question every day: what problem are we actually trying to solve? By first establishing that, we can work to create tools that genuinely help our users — not just the features or solutions we think they should have.

We’d advise the same to any accountant choosing their software. Start with your existing processes, and think about what problem you’re trying to address by using software. This should help you to avoid the trap of automation for automation’s sake, and put something in place that actually meets your needs.

Workflows: identify, build, test and forget

In our view, effective automation should work like this:

  • Identify the problem or the task that could be automated
  • Build the solution, such as a link between two pieces of software, with a trigger and action
  • Test to make sure it works correctly under different circumstances
  • Forget about it and carry on with your work: if something goes wrong, your software should let you know exactly what the problem was and when it happened.

Say your client uses Shopify for their ecommerce store and Xero for their accounting. You might set a trigger for when a new order is created that checks the order status, creates a sales invoice and updates your team. 

All the information you and your team need should be visible, but the various steps of manually checking different software, changing details in one system and updating them in the other, are cut out altogether.

If you decide at some point to make some adjustments to the automation, you should have the ability to come back and change it. But for the most part, it should run in the background without the need for constant checks or fixes.

Of course, for all of this to work, you need to be able to trust that your software is robust and reliable – not a workaround, or a generalist tool, but one that’s built specifically with the technicalities of accounting in mind.

At Aurelia, we’ve noticed that a lot of accountants are trying to build workarounds themselves to tackle these issues, and we’re happy to take that burden off their shoulders. 
Get in touch by emailing [email protected], and let’s chat about the problem you’re trying to solve and how automation could help!