Optimizing Accounting Technology for Ongoing Remote Work
Amidst the outbreak of COVID-19, technology has enabled accounting departments to join the ranks of other professionals working remotely. Unlike other fields, however, there is arguably more at stake should anything go wrong, making the importance of accounting and technology working seamlessly together all the more critical.
Right now, it’s not only about ensuring accounts receivables and accounts payables are processed on time; it’s also about having real-time access to cash flow information and being able to look at the numbers strategically. The accounting department is, in fact, the single source of truth when it comes to a company’s financials. And while no business could have predicted the unforeseen circumstances of 2020, keeping an accurate pulse on company financials during these uncertain times can quite literally mean the difference between a business surviving or not.
Tech Trends in Accounting
The following seven technology trends and findings influence and advance the accounting field, empowering the next generation of accountants in the new normal we have all found ourselves working in.
- Organizations are optimizing their accounting technology stack and automating processes enabling accounting teams to collaborate and work more effectively. This will continue to be a priority and will require ongoing assessment now and into the future.
- Collaboration tools and technologies that enable better communication across the enterprise are on the rise. In fact, according to a June 2020 PwC U.S. CFO Pulse Survey, “allocations for investments in technologies are not set to change during the next 12 months, despite cost-cutting elsewhere during the pandemic.” And, at the time of the survey, collaboration was one of the top three factors driving technology-related spend.
- Accountants are acquiring new technology skills to keep up with the automated demands of the industry. In January, before COVID-19 hit the U.S., Oracle shared predictions that today’s finance and accounting professionals would need to be tech-savvy and driven by data analytics.
- Cloud-based technologies are the wave of the not-so-predictable future. According to IDC, cloud IT infrastructure spending continued to grow in Q1 2020, while spending on non-cloud environments saw double-digit declines.
- Companies with efficient enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are more likely to allow ongoing remote work for those in accounting and other shared services functions. That’s because ERP software integrates departments – like finance and accounting, sales and marketing, human resources, procurement, and supply chain – from across the organization, making data, information, and other relevant activity accessible in one central database.
- No matter what happens next, the previous barriers to remote work are forever lowered. In the same PwC survey of CFOs, 61 percent said they plan to “make remote work permanent for roles that allow it.”
- In addition to compliance and regulation, accounting can now add security and privacy as top priorities. While work from home arrangements have protected employees’ health and safety, it has simultaneously exposed and bogged down company networks. Back in the early days of the coronavirus, CNBC reported the strain on corporate virtual private networks (VPNs), which are typically designed to be used by a subgroup of employees and are now having to support entire workforces. Cybersecurity and other protective measures will continue to be important for both information technology and accounting professionals.
Technology prowess, automation, security, and the use and understanding of data will continue to influence the accounting industry well into 2021 and beyond. Those who give priority to the technology trends shaping the industry will benefit from ongoing advancement and opportunity.
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