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Looking into the future of accounting

Rahul Maingi

By admin, April 10, 2016

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Having recently looked through the 2014 Wolters Kluwer – Accounting Firm Preparedness Survey, the paper identified a number of trends shaping the future of accounting. Of particular interest are two trends that are challenging for many accounting and bookkeeping service providers. These challenges can be helped by the opportunities available today through outsourcing and automation.

The two challenges of focus are:

  1. Increased focus on client service
  2. Technology integration challenges

Increased focus on client service

The Wolters Kluwer survey identified increased focus on client service as having a significant impact on the future of firms. The challenge will be to provide enhanced customer service and leverage technology to automate processes while providing more personalized and strategic advice to clients. Accounting service providers would benefit from reviewing how much resources, especially time, is spent on transactional aspects of their work which prevents them from more advisory work. Ignoring this trend may leave firms focused on low margin transactional services when advisory is a much more lucrative business line.

The future of accounting work will provide more reward for service providers that can offer low-cost transactional support and high value advice.

Technology integration challenges

The Wolters Kluwer survey also identified technological integration as a challenge having significant impact on the future of firms. Despite the growth in computing power and connectivity, there is now hundreds of tools available for various aspects of an accounting service provider’s job. Some tools provide you with the specific functionality you need but don’t integrate with your accounting package, while others make a great accounting package but don’t have specific functionality you need.

The result is a web of business and technological processes to navigate and can be a time consuming, low value activity for an accounting service provider or require expensive expertise that you can’t always fully utilize or afford.

The future of accounting will push accounting service providers to have the technological solutions ready where the experience is seamless for clients.

Automation and Business Process Outsourcing as a solution

Accounting and bookkeeping services can take advantage of these trends by beginning to look at solutions to remove the transactional aspects of their job and build the skills and competencies needed to provide personalized and strategic advice. There are avenues that service providers can explore immediately.

Service providers must become familiar with leading cloud-based accounting package and tools which can help creating a more efficient and mobile accounting environment. Although these automation tools will provide elegant solutions, the information still need to flow into the accounting system which can result in technological integration challenges in some cases or inability to provide a customized solution for a client in other cases. This is where automated service solutions now exist to help you. Although some transactions can be completely automated, there will be plenty of situations where manual work is needed. For example, many organizations use hand-written forms, custom forms or require critical thought before the transactions are posted. For these situations, Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) may be the right solution for the manual and time consuming tasks that still require human involvement.

The advantage of BPO is that you get the benefits of automation with the attention to detail and critical thought that your own staff member would provide. Costs are reduced because the tasks are completed in lower-cost countries such as India making it a more affordable solution than hiring dedicated local staff that you can’t always fully utilize. BPO essentially does the same thing as automated tools but for more complex situations and without the need to manage staff. The bottom line with BPO is that it allows you to focus on the highest value added activities rather than the transactional.

Your options for BPO service providers is growing and you can customize more and more what you need from the providers, making this a growing versatile solution.

Are you ready for the future?

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