5 Valuable Benefits of Automation in Accounting
Automation is changing the way people work: Discover how automation in accounting processes can lead to a successful digital transformation.
Manual, paper-based tasks that were once rife across the enterprise are increasingly becoming a thing of the past. It’s all a part of the digital transformation that’s been turning many industries on their heads, with no sign of slowing down. According to analyst group IDC, worldwide spend on the hardware, software and services that enable business process automation will surpass $2.1 trillion in the next four years.
Companies will often start their journey to automation in accounting. Why? Financial accounting is one business function notorious for manual and error-prone processes within Accounts Payable (AP), Accounts Receivable (AR) and General Ledger (GL) – making them the ‘low-hanging fruit’ that can be used to prove the benefits of automation to other parts of the business.
Let’s explore five examples of those benefits in action:
1. Speeding up journal entries
Manually entering data through the SAP Graphical User Interface (GUI) is not only tedious and time consuming, but it can also often lead to errors – and that means costly rework.
SAP-enabled Excel workbooks eliminate the need for manual data entry into SAP. This means that employees can get their work done faster and with fewer errors – leaving more time to understand and describe anomalies or work on other high-value tasks.
2. Reduce invoicing traffic jams
At month-end, AP and AR teams can usually be found with stacks of invoices on their desks, or furiously entering never-ending quantities of data into the ERP system. Creating and paying invoices is the kind of repetitive, high-volume, and time-sensitive activity that pleads the case for automation in accounting.
Instead of manually entering supplier invoices or creating customer invoices via the SAP GUI, AP and AR clerks can use automated SAP-enabled Excel workbooks to clear their invoicing backlogs and stay on top of incoming work. This will enable them to deal with PO and non-PO invoices more efficiently, leading to more on-time payments, fewer invoicing errors and supplier inquiries, and ultimately, improved supplier relationships.
3. Improve master data accuracy
The timeliness and accuracy of financial accounting operations depend on the master data being correct. Errors or omissions in customer and supplier master records can delay invoicing or payments – leading to problems that are costly and time-consuming to fix.
Automating this process allows the finance team to quickly create or update master data using SAP-enabled Excel workbooks or web forms.
4. Improve compliance across key business processes
Strict business procedures often require multiple stakeholders in an organization to supply or approve data, making the data entry process more complicated.
Thankfully, this is yet another scenario where automation can swoop in to save time and streamline processes. Take, for example, a capital expense request solution that routes a web form to the right approver, based on the amount of the request and company code.
5. Spend less time preparing for audits
A visit from the auditors doesn’t need to be a dreaded, stress-inducing event on the calendar. External and internal audits are simply a fact of life for any accounting team, so preparing for them should be as pain-free as possible.
To get to this point, an Excel-based solution can be created that can quickly extract any data from SAP that auditors may want to see — for example, invoices over $250,000. This type of automation in accounting not only reduces audit preparation time, it can also cut down on the audit costs by reducing the time external auditors spend on site.
In addition to increased productivity and efficiency, automation provides organizations with greater data accuracy and improved compliance with internal and external procedures and regulations. And when staff no longer needs to perform mundane, repetitive tasks, they can instead focus on more strategic projects – that’s a big morale booster that delivers even more value to the business.
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This blog about automation in accounting has been adapted from an article originally published in Finance-Monthly.com.