6 min read

The Strategic Benefits of Automation in a CPA Firm

Jan 12, 2021 9:00:00 AM

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“Automation is coming for your job!”

Hold up—that’s not true. In fact, it’s so far from the truth that not even Google Maps can help find where it belongs.

Instead of making us obsolete in our profession, automation actually helps enhance the services we provide. The truth is that less than 5% of current occupations can be entirely eliminated through automation. It’s not a threat to our careers; automation is most powerful when it augments and supports human capabilities. 

In accounting, automation is a necessary tool to help you build a better business. It means less time on repetitive tasks and more time growing the business. Less time on data entry, and more time providing the critical thinking required to advise your clients.

The best part? It’s not some distant future, it’s already a reality!

Existing machine learning (ML) technology allows accounting professionals to carry out many (especially repetitive) processes via software. This type of automation and outsourcing can allow you to step out of the routine tasks and into more strategic areas of your business. Automation can create freedom. 

But freedom from what? You love accounting: the routines, the number-crunching, that in the end everything balances to zero. After all, your business is built on you being a trusted partner to your clients. 

Maybe a better question is: freedom to do what? 

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Freedom to work on the business, not in the business

When was the last time you took a few hours to think strategically about your business and the directions you’d like to take it? How do you imagine your service offerings and client base developing over the next five years? It can be nearly impossible to make time for strategy when you’ve got limited staff and a full load of client deliverables to chase after. 

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Although it’s easy to lose track of your strategic direction, a focus on the future is the only way to ensure that you remain a trusted partner to your clients. Taking time now to think strategically helps you provide modern, top-notch service for years to come. 

As an accountant, it’s natural to focus on the cash flow of your clients. But remember: automation enables you to immediately see a positive cash flow impact.

 

Freedom to provide your clients the guidance they need

To be a true partner to your clients, you need to have a deep understanding of what drives their businesses. But truly understanding your clients’ businesses can be a real challenge when you’re struggling to keep up with the mountains of backlog. 

Sure, clients pay for the necessary bookkeeping services you provide. But they also pay for your expert advice, (e.g., how changes in tax laws and financial regulations can affect their operations).

Outsourcing tedious tasks can create the bandwidth you need to invest into expanding your offerings. Your staff can then concentrate on providing additional value to your customers through handling budgets and forecasting. 

 

Freedom to invest in your staff and their growth

Your team is dedicated to providing a wide range of accounting expertise and services to a diverse client base. Using automation can not only save you time, it can also save your employees time. Imagine what your firm could achieve with 92 extra hours per week by automating write-up and bookkeeping; how would you reallocate that time?

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Along with freeing up bookkeepers and senior accountants for higher-level advisory work, this additional time can also be dedicated to growth and development. If you and your staff could stop playing catch-up, you could gain the freedom to invest in your staff and their growth. 

As your team continues to add new skills and areas of expertise, your firm can offer more meaningful services and value to clients.

Additionally, by putting their intellectual capacities to use on higher-value activities, you can help reduce burnout by keeping your employees active and engaged. And maybe, through automation, you could also cut back on overtime, which helps increase employee happiness and reduces your staff expenses.

 

Freedom to do personal things you love

Knowing that the routine aspects of your business are running smoothly can go a long way in providing peace of mind, which helps you fully enjoy an extra round of golf each week, or the ability to be home for dinner every night. 

Think about the typically hectic nature of tax season. In some sense, it’s unavoidable. But what if automation could take on some of the increased demand and allow you to maintain a normal schedule? What if you and your staff could take a break without feeling anxious?

It’s often in these quiet moments away from the bustle of the day-to-day where we have our greatest insights. A little detachment from the office is sometimes all we need to get excited about the business again and dream about where things could go. 

You got into this business to make a life for yourself—not simply for the sake of the business. Automation can give you back some personal time, even during your busiest season

 

How is automation revolutionizing the accounting industry?

Accountants and bookkeepers fulfill a variety of roles: balancing accounts, making recommendations, and evaluating fraud potential (among plenty of others!).

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However, many aspects of accounting are also repetitive, error-prone, and can cause a great deal of mental load for even the most passionate accounting professional. It’s not just the increased efficiency and accuracy; automation can help minimize mental loads, too. That lessens the potential for burnout by allowing accountants to shift their focus to providing value for clients. 

Machine learning and automation are most effective when used to enhance existing processes—not replace an accountant’s entire role. Transaction categorization, matching data from different systems, confirming payments, or checking consistency of month-to-month reporting are all examples of processes made better and more accurate by automation. 

 

Automation isn’t only for automation’s sake

Incorporating automation into your firm’s daily operations is also a great way to streamline your back-office, drive more value for your clients, pave the way for an actionable succession plan, attract better quality clients, and more! 

To be clear, the goal isn’t just to automate for the sake of automation. The goal of automation through machine learning is to save you time and effort, which you and your employees can better use on more value-adding activities. 

The goal is to build a stronger firm, provide a greater service for your clients, and build a sustainable, enjoyable work environment.

That goal can be achieved in all areas of your firm and at all times of the year, including during tax season when productivity is typically dragged down thanks to tedious tax write-ups. The Botkeeper Rapid Write-Up Package leverages automation to ease the write-up burden on your firm’s staff, from scanning PDFs for easy data entry to producing an accurate trial balance ready for review and filing. 

To get a better idea of how the Rapid Write-Up Package works and would benefit your firm, we’ve put together a presentation specifically for accounting professionals who are aiming to transform and evolve their write-up work. Click below to save your spot for the webinar so you can save your firm time and stress during tax season!

 

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Aaron Sullivan

Written by Aaron Sullivan

Aaron is a content marketer with a background in writing and editing for social, email, and blogs. His experience is heavily focused on bookkeeping/finance, entertainment, and beer.

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