Historically, accounting software has been designed to help finance teams manage time-costly tasks, improve accuracy, and counter the repetition of month-end tasks needed to close the books. The pitfalls of this approach and the focus on the ‘task’ has resulted in models that have made it more difficult for accounting professionals to rise above the numbers. In other words, software tools have traditionally placed an outsized focus on the minute details of closing tasks which have stymied accounting professionals, ensuring better accuracy, and visibility at the expense of a more analytical interpretation of the financial data.
by Mike Whitmire, Co-Founder and CEO, FloQast
Conditions are optimal for software that provides a more elevated approach. A new trend emerging within the sector is that accounting is increasingly intertwined with and responsible for the business operations function. This occurs by virtue of the fact that accounting underpins the ability to operationally run a smooth department and, more importantly, the entire company.
Unquestionably, this trend has been accelerated by the pandemic, where teams have become remote and increasingly siloed from one another. In functions such as accounting, there is an important need for collaboration and transparency when it comes to completing functions around the month end. Controllers were faced with a greater challenge than ever before, how to maintain collaboration and communication remotely?
It’s no surprise, therefore, that the pandemic has also increased the need for cloud-based solutions to engender better communication across distributed teams. Tech of this kind has taken centre stage, proving its utility in enabling simple processes, such as end of the month, to be completed more efficiently, giving way for accountants to increase their focus on much needed strategy and agile thinking during such unprecedented times.
The use of artificial intelligence and machine learning technology has helped automate the ‘low hanging fruit’ functions with modern accounting software allowing finance professionals to apply their human intelligence to solving higher level problems. In essence, when the small stuff is automated, individuals can better see the forest, without having their field of vision obscured by the individual trees. However, in order to achieve this level of focus, it is important that the software used is intelligently designed to enable it. At its heart, software needs to be informed by the people doing the job, in this case, the accounting team. This way it can address and solve the very real day-to-day challenges and become indispensable, whilst freeing up time of the controller to enable strategic thinking.
Taking the time to consider practical use cases and listening to customer challenges is also equally important for software design. Companies will often start using accounting software as a way to optimise accounting functions alone but may move beyond that, wanting more from their software. For example, by offering a way to collaborate and provide transparency around any process under the function of the controller.
Understanding and delivering on customers’ needs should be a fundamental driving force behind any accounting software and will lead to greater credibility for the product. Likewise, an ability to free senior finance professionals from the burden of repetitive, number-crunching tasks will enable them to open their eyes, offering strategic input to fuel improved decision making, and ultimately lead to stronger business performance.