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Purse strings are understandably tighter than ever for many companies – of all sizes and in all industries. Higher national insurance contributions, rising operating costs in production, energy and wages are just some of the challenges companies are facing.

Juggling these financial challenges comes at a time when organizations are looking to get online with the UK government program. However, according to our recent to researchfour in five finance leaders admit their department is not fit for future growth – a worrying statistic given the need for UK businesses to bounce back from the pandemic.

For accounting firms, supporting growth means offering greater flexibility and a service that matches the demands of different business needs. The pandemic has taught us that old-fashioned accounting processes are no longer suitable for businesses to even keep the lights on – let alone scale. Manual accounting is not only time-consuming and error-prone, it also fails to allow for unexpected events and to clearly spot growth opportunities.

As the CFO role continues to evolve with over a third (39%) noting greater demand for c-suite collaboration than two years ago, it is crucial that they are able to drive innovation and efficiency to propel the company forward. Accounting automation is a powerful tool that can ultimately help with this – because less time spent on manual processes means more time spent on strategic decision-making.

Below, I discuss three key ways accounting automation can benefit a company’s bottom line and allow accountants to adapt to ever-changing business needs.

  1. Save time and increase efficiency

Manual accounting is subject to a high margin of error. When finance professionals spend more than half (53%) of their time in a typical week spent on manual tasks, this risk of error will only increase. Inevitably, when things go wrong, accountants can spend many more valuable hours locating and correcting these entries.

This time could be better spent focusing on tasks that contribute to strategic growth and upgrading plans – which finance professionals now all have a role to play in achieving. In fact, our research found that a fifth (20%) of UK CFOs said they had recently faced greater demand from the CEO and board.

We know that, in line with plans to upgrade and expand internationally (the latter being a top priority for 22% of CFOs), financial services need to be modernized to deliver such growth. As businesses start to grow, accounting becomes increasingly complicated – managing tax cuts, keeping receipts, and ensuring payments comply with regulations to name a few challenges. .

Worryingly, our searches found only a third finance professionals use automated accounting software to reduce their workload. As a result, 68% of accounts payable (AP) teams still manually enter invoices into accounting software, resulting in 56% spending more than ten hours per week processing supplier invoices and payments. With automation, accounting software can process all financial credentials and associate them with existing records in systems, as well as automatically generate audits and reports. Manual processing escapes them with automation, which frees up time to focus on new innovations and growth strategies.

2. Compliance with changing payment regulations

Businesses face challenges from new and ever-changing payment regulations. For example, the Making Tax Digital (MTD) laws which were implemented in April 2022 require that all VAT registered businesses are now required to file BAT returns. This means keeping records digitally and making returns through software that links directly to HMRC. Late payment laws also burden businesses, and failure to comply could result in recipients paying interest and collection costs if a business pays for goods or services late.

To comply with tax regulations, all VAT-registered businesses must adopt MTD-approved cloud accounting software. Automating the accounting process, including collecting transaction information with the correct tax rates, means that when quarterly and annual returns are due, companies won’t need to scramble to try to track down expenses, receipts and invoices, reducing the risk of errors. in tax returns to HMRC.

3. Improved decision making

The role of accountants is expanding. Rather than just focusing on closing the books, they are now essential strategic partners in every business. This requires a new skill. Basically, accountants need to keep up to date with new technology trends and learn how to optimize their accounting software to become agile and strategic decision makers.

The data produced by automated accounting systems provides a more accurate means of analyzing trends, variances and predictability. When armed with informed data that can back up their decisions, accountants can work more efficiently and make informed decisions faster to keep pace with business change and stay ahead of any eventuality. Additionally, data can be present and disseminated more easily as automation simplifies reconciliation of audits and reports.

Last words

More than ever, it is important for accountants to be able to offer analysis and strategic direction to businesses looking to grow. This is only possible if companies embrace automation technology, which gives them time to make such strategic decisions, instead of balancing spreadsheets. Such technology is essential to provide clear and actionable data points that should be the key to any decision.

Automated accounting gives full visibility into financial status, compliance with ever-changing payment regulations, and helps make smart business decisions. Only those who embrace automation and embrace technology will experience true success as they seek to grow and adapt to the challenges ahead.

By Rob Israch, Managing Director of Tipalti