5 Accounting Tasks You Can (and Should) Automate
he accounting and finance functional areas are notorious for being full of slow, manual tasks. Invoice payment approvals, accounts payable journal entries, month-end close, and financial statement generation are just a few.
Automation is changing the game in accounting, though. You can hand off many of these tasks to a piece of software and rarely have to worry about it again — giving you time to work on things that move the needle.
In this article, we’ll explore accounting automation and its benefits, then go over X tasks you can automate to put an end to mind-numbing manual work.
What is Accounting Automation?
Accounting automation involves removing the manual tasks from the accounting and finance teams’ everyday workflows. In doing so, you leave more time and mental energy for yourself (or your team if you have one) to work on more productive matters.
Why Invest in Accounting Automation?
Here are some ways you can benefit from investing in accounting automation:
- Save time: Most obviously, automating manual accounting tasks saves you thousands of cumulative hours. If you have an accounting/finance team, they can work on more important things than manual tasks.
- Save money: Your initial investment in accounting automation solutions will pay off when you can cut your reliance on in-house staff or outsourced firms.
- Reduces errors and fraud: Manual tasks get repetitive, leading humans to make errors. Plus, people sometimes attempt to defraud their employer. Handing off these tasks to a machine cuts the risk of either of these.
- Improves consistency: People have their own ways of doing things, even if you have standardized procedures. Automating tasks improves consistency, allowing you and any other interested parties to have more reliable financial information.
- Informs better decision-making: Since automation cuts errors and provides you up-to-the-minute financial information, you can make better business decisions in less time. Many accounting automation solutions also come with deep reporting features so you can look at more than just your financial statements.
Automate These 5 Tasks and Save Yourself Time
1. Billing and Invoicing
You don’t make money without billing and invoicing your customers. It follows that improving your billing and invoicing processes can pay off in spades for your firm.
Unfortunately, traditional invoicing processes are full of time-consuming and error-prone manual tasks. For example, you may send out an incorrect invoice. Remedying the problem hurts your cash flows and could even harm your relationship with the client you invoiced.
Automated invoicing can help you get paid accurately and much faster. Many accounting software products offer time-saving, cash-flow-boosting features such as automated invoices, client invoice reminders, tools that convert quotes to invoices, and the ability to save client payment information.
2. Accounts Payables
On the other side of the coin is your accounts payables. If you don’t pay your bills accurately and on time, your vendor and supplier relationships will weaken. You’ll lose out on potential discounts, and some may even stop working with you.
Like other things we’ve discussed, the tasks involved in paying your business’s bills are laborious.
Each invoice has to be verified to ensure its correct, then sent to someone else for approval. Upon approval, someone has to enter and process the payment. Finally, you record the journal entry.
All that for one invoice — let alone several per day.
Imagine how much time you could save if you automated some of these steps. Accounting automation can securely capture invoice information, notify the right people in the payment process to do their part, and even record the entry in your ledger.
This also saves money by cutting down on paper payment-related expenses, reducing your staffing needs, and helping you seize early payment discounts if available.
Getting payroll correct and on time is critical to keeping your employees happy. You also have to deal with a complex set of payroll items such as vacation time, overtime, fringe benefits, and more.
And then there are payroll taxes. Calculate your payroll taxes incorrectly, and you could face penalties.
Payroll tasks are notorious for manual work, including sifting through spreadsheets and doing a lot of math.
Accounting automation is a huge help, given the need to get all the numbers right in payroll. Automation cuts out the human error part of the equation and saves hours — both on payroll tasks themselves and rectifying any errors.
4. Tax Compliance
Tax compliance is a thorn in the side of many business owners. The tax code is a complex web of rules that even the most experienced tax professionals sometimes struggle to understand. There are income taxes, payroll taxes, sales taxes, and the list goes on.
In the past, small business owners either had to figure things out themselves (which often created more problems) or hire one of these professionals to do it for them.
And so, one of automation’s most significant use cases is tax matters. Many accounting solutions can calculate tax requirements for any transaction your business makes. This is especially useful if you do business across state or international lines.
Many solutions even provide reports helpful for tax planning and other matters.
5. Expense Processing and Management
You and your employees sometimes need to spend on behalf of the company. Managing and tracking this spending is part of expense processing and management — a traditionally time-consuming and laborious process.
Employees have to keep their receipts and complete expenses reports. Then, someone has to sign off on these before the accounting or finance team reconciles the expenses and sends the employee their reimbursement.
Many accounting automation solutions take much of this manual work off your team’s back. These programs can match expense claims to invoices, and they can often do the appropriate entries.
Investing in Accounting Automation Pays Off
Accounting automation is an investment, not an expense. Offloading manual accounting tasks to a computer opens up time, energy, and resources useful for the work that matters most and the decisions that move your organization forward.
ZarMoney can do several of the above list items. But it also helps you streamline your inventory management, and it even offers productivity tools like customizable dashboards and a scheduler feature.