Sophisticated business software is changing the landscape for Australian companies, as they realise the advantages it entails by eliminating a lot of manual processes, enabling businesses to have more time to focus on strategy.
The reality is technology is changing the business landscape around the world and domestically.
Australian companies will spend about $65 billion on technology in 2019, according to Forrester Research, with cloud computing, automation, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) the top three priorities.
This won’t come as a surprise to most companies, as technology continues to overhaul the way business is done.
But what software works best for your company and your accountants? Do they need to align? And how can the two collaborate to ensure complicity with data to ensure essential information is captured and analysed?
Shaye Thyer, BDO National Cloud and Advisory Specialist, says data maintenance is paramount.
“Businesses and accountants could have the most well-constructed platforms for seamless and efficient transfer of data, but if the data is not well maintained, it needs adjusting and manual handling in order to ensure it is in the correct format to be digested by the Australian Tax Office.
“This necessary manipulation can, in some cases, completely undermine the efficiency of the most systemised digital processes.”
Thyer believes having alignment with the accounting and business system integrations, along with all related processes with regular reviews, will entail co-ordination.
“You need to maintain an optimised environment with only appropriately skilled, experienced and trained people who are responsible for the system data,” he says.
Flexibility within a system is also important as to allow extraction of data that might not have been initially planned for but upon analysis a need has become apparent.
Taxing times for business
Business enhancing software is not only necessary for identifying strengths and weaknesses of the business, but also complying with taxation obligations.
Fiona Dixon, Director, HLB Mann Judd, says working on your own business, or with a client, to achieve a satisfactory goal will help if technology can talk to each other.
“A key is to understand the requirements of the Australian tax system and where it is moving, and will usually require more detailed information and reporting,” she says. “Utilising appropriate software will make tax compliance more streamlined and effective, if the information is able to be extracted easily and quickly from the company’s systems.”
The reality is that while a lot of accounting firms will use similar software, this not may be the case with their clients, as accountants range of services expand into new sectors and a wider range of offerings.
Michael Macolino, Senior Manager, BDO Technology Advisory, says having companies and their accountants utilising different software however doesn’t mean a successful working relationship can’t be forged.
“Accountants should be able to provide a holistic insight into the client’s financial technology without being vendor specific,” he says.
“A modern accountant should be able to understand APIs and integrations, and advise how the client’s systems can be integrated to maximise the automation benefits of cloud accounting.
“The number of cloud accounting systems on the market will continue to increase, which means that accounting firms need to invest in their own infrastructure which enables them to plug in and process client data from a wide range of operational and financial sources.”
Painless digital transformation
Almost every single task that is repetitive and doesn’t require human interaction to make it function is being replaced by automation.
Whether it is a functional activity that normally had a person punching in numbers in a spreadsheet or undertaking basic calculation, technology has enabled these activities to be done quicker and more efficiently, and all businesses have either accepted this benefit or are quickly moving towards it.
“Accounting firms and clients should consider where they are heading and what the strategy is for the business as this will play an important role in moving to digital and will help to focus efforts,” Dixon says.
“This does not necessarily require a big bang approach but rather it can be incremental and have systems that allow them to build on their reporting and being able to extract different information and present it in different ways. Technology is changing rapidly and businesses are required to as well to keep pace.
“It is important to have an open mind to changing technology and building on existing technology going into the future.”
Reduce effort, reduce cost
Increased efficiency are two words associated with the advent of technology in the accounting and business worlds. Complex calculations done across several spreadsheets can now be undertaken by advanced software. This then frees up people’s time to do additional productive tasks.
“When we automate, we reduce effort,” Thyer says. “When we reduce effort, we reduce cost. And when we reduce cost we get … more profit. Efficiency means faster production, which means more product out the door and more revenue in the door. It’s simple.
“The SaaS landscape has levelled the playing field, enabling businesses of all sizes to access best-in-market functionality for their business.”
Thyer says technology has created so many benefits for accountants and their clients that the reduction, and sometimes elimination, of repetitive manual tasks, has resulted in a more efficient workforce.
“I am yet to see any evidence of businesses creating idle time for employees off the back of digital transformation,” he says. “Rather, the time is immediately redeployed in terms of higher value activities. For people wanting evidence around actual efficiency gains in terms of routine tasks being done in less time and staff going home at 3pm instead of 5, this thinking is short-sighted.
“The better focus is to examine what a digital business and its people get to do. How they spend their time, how much more engaged they are in the business and how their talents are better leveraged. While profitability can be enhanced in terms of efficiency, the real results are growth in a more holistic sense and superior satisfaction for a much wider group of stakeholders.”
Whether it is tax compliance, analysing business sales of products or services, or simply looking within your own company to improve processes, there is a software system that is right for your business.
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