Using technology to boost business finances

Over the last two decades technology has transformed the way we do business – and that is as evident in accounting as any other profession.

Making Tax Digital has been gradually introduced in recent years and software has leapt to new heights to help with bookkeeping and reporting.

Sean Farnell, Partner at Burgis & Bullock, discusses how technology continues to change practices in business and make the books work for you in our latest blog.

Sean Farnell
Sean Farnell

Over the course of my career, technology has brought a real revolution in business and is now essential to the sound financial operations of a successful business.

In the last five or six years technology has caught up with the requirements of the industry and businesses are now starting to see the benefits.

Particularly in accounting, this is resulting in savings in both time and costs. Be that from the perspective of data processing, invoicing, bank transaction and many more.

No longer is a member of staff tasked with spending a day a week plugging transaction manually into the banking system.

This has been heightened by the ability for the systems to automatically identify invoices against payments made and money received. Platforms such as Dext and HubDock have become vital in processing purchase invoices (paper and electronic) and automatically posting those into the accounting system.

Internally for businesses, approval systems such as ApprovalMax have made the whole process of approving invoices completely digitised. Gone are the days of having pieces of paper floating around the office with stamps on and getting lost.

Approvals can now be done in a matter of seconds, the document is attached to the system, can’t be lost and anybody with the right clearance in any organisation can access it.

But away from processing, the most significant benefit to my mind is management reporting and forecasting. We have spoken at length about the importance of planning ahead in other blogs including:

Technology is now essential to being able to understand what’s happening in the business as it happens – rather than months after the time you really needed to know.

Daily management information was just never possible in the past. It took too long to do bookkeeping and information arrived monthly – but now you can look at data on a daily basis and make real-time decisions on the next steps for your business.

The data stored in systems can be used to make better business decisions. For example, an accounting system will hold information on which customers are buying certain products and what products they aren’t buying over the last year.

Businesses can then speak to that customer, find out why they are buying less? Why haven’t they bought for 12 months? And what can you do to get them back on board? Remember, it’s always easier to sell to an existing customer than a new one.

Businesses can track their KPIs using digital accounting tools too, ensuring that the business is on the right path.

Without a doubt there has been a streamlining of bookkeeping too, from bank fees to the harvesting of purchase invoices.

As software advances, there are more opportunities link in systems to support with other business matters – such as debt collection. We offer a Virtual Credit Control service at Burgis & Bullock to our client(s).

Programmes can be automated with sending out invoices, reminders, statements and thanking customers when they pay. It also means that if you need to scale up any disputes, you have a full audit trail and it’s easy to access for a third party.

But what’s next?

I would say without a doubt the next big thing on the horizon is robotics and automation – yes, artificial intelligence.

The world’s biggest developers are working tirelessly to make AI work. We will start to see businesses and organisations develop methods using AI whereby they can link in systems and processes, and then ultimately have the AI make more decisions and better suggestions.

This won’t be limited to finance – I expect it will come into force across entire organisations.

It’s only a matter of time until blockchain is ubiquitous in business too. To be able to have something that is permanent from the instant it is created and cannot change will be a gamechanger for a lot of industries.

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