The accounting profession is one that’s no stranger to larger amounts of documentation that needs to be collected, sorted, and filed. Any mistake can have a huge impact on you and your clients. That’s why document automation for accountants is so appealing.
It can help you cut down on the time spent doing some of the more mundane tasks while freeing you up for the more important things like auditing the books or developing good relationships with clients.
In this guide, you’ll learn more about accounting document automation, the benefits it brings, and how to get started with it.
What is accounting document automation?
Accounting document automation just like general document automation is automating the creation, processing, and management of documents using software tools or systems. The difference is that it’s centered around accounting documents. You use technology to streamline and standardize accounting processes. As a result, you reduce manual intervention and errors while increasing efficiency, accuracy, and speed.
Automating accounting documents includes activities such as creating invoices, purchase orders, receipts, bank statements, and other financial documents. It also extends to storing, retrieving, and signing various types of contracts electronically. It can also involve automating the process of matching invoices with purchase orders and receipts, coding transactions, reconciling accounts, and generating financial reports.
By automating accounting document processes, you can reduce the time and resources required to manage financial transactions, improve data accuracy, and enhance compliance with accounting standards and regulations. It can also help you better track financial performance, make more informed business decisions, and improve overall operational efficiency.
Common Accounting Documents to Automate
Almost any type of document can be automated to a certain extent but it only makes sense to automate the type of documents that are error-prone or used often. That’s where you’ll get the greatest ROI for your efforts. Here are some common accounting documents that can be automated:
- Invoices: Invoices are a critical document in the accounting process, and automating the creation and sending of invoices can help reduce errors and save time.
- Purchase Orders: Automating the creation and approval of purchase orders can help streamline the purchasing process and improve accuracy.
- Expense Reports: Automating the creation and submission of expense reports can help ensure timely reimbursement and reduce errors.
- Bank Reconciliations: Automating bank reconciliations can help reduce errors and ensure that all transactions are accurately recorded.
- Payroll: Automating payroll processes can help ensure timely and accurate payment of employees.
- Financial Statements: Automating the creation of financial statements can help ensure timely and accurate reporting of financial information.
- Tax Returns: Automating the preparation and filing of tax returns can help ensure compliance with tax regulations and reduce the risk of errors.
Overall, automating accounting documents can help save time, reduce errors, and improve the accuracy and efficiency of accounting processes.
How to Automate Accounting Documents
Implementing accounting document automation involves a step-by-step process, and it is essential to plan and execute it carefully. Here’s a detailed guide on how to implement accounting document automation:
Identify the accounting documents that can be automated:
The goal is to identify documents that are time-consuming, repetitive, and error-prone. These are the type of documents that will save the most time and produce the highest ROI. For example, invoices, purchase orders, expense reports, and bank reconciliations are some of the documents that can be automated.
Choose an automation software:
Once you have identified the documents to automate, the next step is to choose an automation software that meets your requirements. There are many tools on the market that offer document automation such as DoxFlowy but it’s important that any solution you choose meets your specific needs. Look for software that can integrate with your existing accounting software and provides the necessary features to automate the identified documents.
Customize the automation process:
Once you have chosen the automation software, it’s time to configure it to meet your specific accounting needs. You may want to customize the look and feel for the data collection questionnaires you set up, how people are able to sign or interact with documents and more. Of course, you’ll also set up workflows for each type of document that needs to be automated. Customize the fields, templates, and notifications to align with your accounting processes.
It’s crucial to train staff on how to use automation software. Schedule training sessions and make sure everyone understands how to use the software and the new workflows. The software you choose should have a help section that allows you to get a feel for the software and cut down your learning time. In addition to that, you’ll need to train your staff about new internal policies and procedures for automating documents.
Test the automation:
Once the software is set up and the staff is trained, it’s time to test the automation process at scale. Test each type of document thoroughly to ensure that the software is functioning correctly and addresses all accounting requirements. Look for formatting issues, the output file format, and the speed at which processes are completed and optimize around those areas.
Monitor and evaluate:
After the automation process is live, monitor it closely to ensure that it is functioning correctly and efficiently. Evaluate the process regularly to identify areas for improvement. Is there anything that’s confusing for the end user and how can you improve that? As you monitor and evaluate the automation process, look for ways to improve it further. Identify areas that can be streamlined or automated and implement changes to optimize efficiency and reduce errors.
Benefits of Document Automation for Accounting Professionals
Document automation for accounting can bring many benefits to businesses, and here are five major advantages:
- Increased efficiency: Document automation can streamline accounting processes and eliminate manual data entry, reducing the time required to complete routine tasks. Automation can also reduce errors and improve the accuracy of financial reporting, allowing accounting staff to focus on more complex tasks.
- Cost savings: By reducing the time and effort required to complete accounting tasks, document automation can significantly reduce labor costs. Automation can also reduce the cost of errors, such as overpayments, by catching them before they occur. Additionally, you can reduce the costs associated with physical document handling and storage.
- Improved accuracy: Document automation can improve the accuracy of accounting data by eliminating manual data entry and other human errors. Automation can also ensure that financial reports are consistent, timely, and accurate, making it easier to identify trends and make informed business decisions.
- Enhanced collaboration: You can improve collaboration between accounting staff and other departments by streamlining workflows and improving communication. Automated workflows can ensure that everyone is working with the same data, eliminating the need for manual handoffs and reducing the risk of errors.
- Scalability: Document automation can help businesses scale their accounting operations as they grow. Automated processes can easily handle increasing volumes of data without requiring additional staff or resources, making it easier to manage financial reporting across multiple locations or business units.
Document Automation Best Practices for Accounting Professionals
As you become more familiar with document automation, you’ll learn a few ways to make it work for you. To start you off on the right foot, it’s important to adopt best practices from day one. These include (but aren’t limited to) the following:
- Standardize document formats: Standardize the format and structure of the documents to be automated to ensure consistency and accuracy. This includes establishing standardized naming conventions and file formats for the automated documents. This will allow you to create new dynamic templates quickly and spot any errors or issues at a glance.
- Maintain data integrity: Ensure that the automated documents accurately capture all necessary data and information. Verify the accuracy of the data by performing regular data checks that looks for what information is being collected, how the documents are being created, and generally confirming the information is correct.
- Establish security protocols: The software you choose will have its own security protocols but you also need to be proactive. Implement security protocols to protect sensitive financial information. This includes setting up access controls, encryption, and other security measures to safeguard financial data.
- Keep backup copies: Maintain backup copies of all automated documents and data to prevent data loss in case of technical failures or other issues. Regularly test and verify that backups are working correctly and are up-to-date.
- Conduct regular audits: Conduct regular audits of the automated system to ensure that it is functioning correctly and accurately. This includes reviewing data inputs and outputs, verifying the accuracy of the automated documents, and identifying any issues or errors.
Challenges in Document Automation for Accounting
While accounting document automation brings many benefits, there are also some common challenges that you may face when implementing automation. Here are some of the most common challenges of accounting document automation:
- Integration with existing systems: Integrating new automation software with existing accounting software can be challenging. It requires careful planning and testing to ensure that the new system integrates seamlessly with the existing software, avoiding data duplication or loss.
- Data accuracy: Automating data entry and processing can improve accuracy, but it also requires an accurate and complete data set to begin with. Any inaccuracies in the data can be amplified and may cause issues down the line. It’s essential to ensure that the data is accurate and complete before automating the process.
- Security: Automation systems for accounting documents often contain sensitive financial data, making security a top priority. It’s crucial to ensure that the system is secure, including data encryption, access controls, and firewalls, to protect against unauthorized access and data breaches. As I mentioned earlier, you also have to adopt security best practices.
- User adoption: New systems require staff to learn new processes, which can be challenging for some. User adoption is critical to the success of automation, so it’s essential to provide adequate training and support to help users understand how to use the new system effectively.
- Cost: Implementing an automation system for accounting documents can be expensive, especially if it requires significant changes to the existing systems and processes you use. Carefully consider the costs and benefits of automation before deciding to proceed. This goes above and beyond the cost of the software and includes training, managing and maintaining new processes, etc.
- Maintenance and upgrades: Automation systems require regular maintenance and upgrades to remain effective and secure. This requires additional time and resources to maintain the system effectively.
In conclusion, accounting document automation can bring many benefits to businesses, but it also presents some challenges that must be addressed for a successful implementation. By addressing these challenges, businesses can implement effective automation systems that improve efficiency, accuracy, and security in their accounting processes.
There are many benefits to accounting document automation. There are also challenges that you’ll need to tackle head-on. This guide has covered some of the most important things you need to consider before launching document automation for accounting teams.
Focus on the processes outlined in this guide, choose a tool that meets your specific needs, and continue testing and iterating after you’ve launched to ensure the best outcome.
If you’re looking for the right document automation tool for your account needs, be sure to look into DoxFlowy – an end-to-end document automation platform.