Tech skills: Remote working tools
Remote working tools are a skillset in themselves says Simon Wright, operations director of jobs board CareersinAudit.
Undoubtedly technology has changed, and will continue to change, how business is run. Knowledge of and experience with the vast array of remote working tools on the market is therefore a critical skill and all the more reason why accountants should be looking how they can make their jobs easier and workday more productive.
Cloud accounting apps
With a range of online applications supported by that unanimous cloud, arguably the greatest invention since sliced bread in the business domain, both accountants and clients alike can work together unhindered by space or time. Many accounting software packages can be synced with hundreds of apps, for example ones that track expenses and reimbursements, or apps which simplify record keeping with the ability to scan receipts and upload them directly to the cloud. There seem to be apps for everything, from encrypting and managing passwords to storing PDF versions of tax forms digitally and apps that assist with follow-up calls and emails.
Electronic signature tools
Any busy accountant or auditor knows, particularly during the dreaded tax season, that much time is generally spent chasing signatures for everything from e-filing authorisations to engagement letters. Tools are now available that offer a simple, yet immensely effective, solution to obtaining client signatures for a time-poor accounting professional.
Ever since the invention of email the rhetoric of modern business has been driving towards a paperless world and with numerous scanning devices intent on digitising every document available, paper has become so passé. Typically allowing firms to store their documents on an encrypted server, paperless document management means less clutter, less storage time and better data security.
The automation of daily accounting tasks has been eagerly embraced by those in the profession as the never-ending stream of processes brings on epic headaches in the face of managing payables, billing, payroll, financial reporting and more. Electronic workflow tools, which are configured to maintain best practices, create a collaborative working environment via a cloud-based environment and run more efficiently with data being easily viewable and accessible by all parties involved. Where accounting and audit were once the stuff of compliance and record keeping solely, there is now a greater expectation for proactive data management so that any and all financial information is as accurate and reliable as possible.
Electronic workflows serve to standardise the processes of accounting by uniting them under one cloud from which clients and accountants alike can delegate workflow and workforce in real time while saving cost and time. As automation looks set only to evolve further, accounting and audit professionals must get creative with their understanding and use of the latest technologies in order to stand out from the crowd. Cloud computing isn’t there to do the job for you, it simply offers a more efficient, collaborative and cost-effective resource to enable accountants to effectively manage their processes with a view to delivering timely and accurate financial insight and analysis.
Online portals enable accounting firms to provide clients with on-demand access to their financial documents. Not to mention easier integration with software as well as a range of other tools. Something which improves customer service as well as productivity, the integrated technology afforded by online portals means less desktop clutter, a flexible working environment and one which is run in a simple and organised fashion.
Taking note of these basic, yet key, tools which every discerning accountant should have in his or her arsenal of expertise is your best bet of transforming yourself from an accountant of today into tomorrow’s success.
What are the key remote working tools and apps your practice uses?