The accounting process is necessary for every business to operate efficiently. Hence, enterprises employ the services of accounting firms that can manage their taxes and handle financial tasks.
However, these days, accounting firms not only provide services limited to taxes but also cater to bookkeeping, auditing, and consulting needs of a business.
With the increased workload, accounting firms often face the risk of missing deadlines, losing documents, and committing errors while filing taxes. It can slow down the efficiency of a firm. Thus, it becomes essential for accounting firms to plan towards improving their workflow continuously.
According to The Practice of Now 2019 report, 49% of accounting firms reviewed their business practices in the last year, and 26% reviewed their practices in the past five years. It shows the importance of the workflow of an accounting firm.
Here are five ways in which accounting firms can improve the workflow to increase efficiency.
1. Understand The Workflow
Workflow is the way of getting work or process completed in a systematic and organized way. Understanding the operations performed by the firm and prioritizing them based on relevance is what keeps a firm ahead of its competitors.
Some points to consider while planning out the workflow for the accounting firm are:
- Dividing the workforce efficiently for each process
- Maintaining client involvement in the processes
- Making checkpoints for each process and recording what must be delivered to the client
- Managing time for each activity based on priority and resource availability
2. Digital Accounting Over Paper Accounting
Accounting involves recording large amounts of data, which is always at a risk of getting lost or stolen. Hence, keeping all the data organized is a tough task. To avoid the chances of error and to improve efficiency, accounting firms should switch to digital accounting.
Some advantages of digital accounting over paper accounting are:
- Streamlines dataflow that is easy to access with a few clicks
- Reduces bookkeeping time as data can be input and extracted by accountants in a few minutes
- Increases the security of data and keeps sensitive content protected by providing authority to a closed group
- Access of data on a digital platform becomes easier than searching large piles of books for even a small information
Furthermore, switching from paper to digital accounting is very simple. Instead of printing the documents and mailing them, one can share digital copies over the Internet. Moreover, the client’s bills and receipts can be saved by scanning them using smartphones.
3. Defined Roles And Collaboration
Every employee in the accounting firm has different roles and responsibilities. Understanding of the employee of his/her role in the firm lead to better collaboration between the team.
Assigning designated roles creates accountability and ownership. Giving one person one role helps them understand their contribution, and they will be the ones to look for in case of ramifications.
Collaboration is essential in all aspects of jobs. Thus, making collaborations convenient helps employees have open discussions for sharing ideas to enhance their productivity and efficiency.
4. Use Trending Technology
With changing times, the accounting sector is changing too. The use of advanced technology, such as Artificial Intelligence and Cloud Computing is no more an exception in the field of accounting. Nowadays, accountants are adopting new technologies and software to provide optimized results to clients.
The role of an accountant is no more limited. Using new technologies like artificial intelligence and big data, they provide better predictions and analysis to help in business growth.
New accounting software with automated data sheets is decreasing manual data entry work. It gives more time for accountants to focus on business strategies and higher-value functions.
Some technologies that can help an accounting firm are:
- Artificial Intelligence: Artificial intelligence helps accounting firms achieve extreme accuracy, reduction in errors, and increased efficiency. There is a negligible risk of data redundancy and recording errors with the use of AI technology.
- Cloud Technology: Using cloud technology, accounting firms no more need to worry about losing their data or updating hardware. Data can be stored on the cloud and can be accessed from anywhere in the world. Cloud also makes working on accounting applications easier with multi-user access feature.
- Blockchain: Blockchain helps in safe, secure, and transparent transfer of the ownership using public-key encryption and proof of work methods.
- Big Data: It provides accounting firms with trusted data that can be analyzed to develop new business strategies and predictions for the future of the business.
5. Help Employees To Do More
Helping employees and keeping them motivated towards their work increases a firm’s efficiency and maintains a healthy work environment.
- Communicate with employees to understand their requirements related to work and encourage them for open discussions. Ask for their opinions and feedbacks.
- Help employees grow by encouraging them to upskill themselves with the latest technologies and promoting them with suitable posts.
According to the 2018 Global Talent Trends, the study found that 51% of employees wish their company offered more flexible work options. Thus, allowing flexible timings instead of strict 9 to 5 work hours will help employees stay with the firm for a longer period.
Improvement in accounting workflow does not happen overnight. It takes time, individual as well as team efforts to build an efficient workflow for the firm. And once the workflow is planned out, the firm sees growth in every aspect.
What are your thoughts on this? Is there anything you would like to add? Please share in the comments section below.
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