As an accountant, what is the perceived value of your time?

Whether you are the FD, accountant, or accounts assistant, do you feel your organisation values your time, or even more critically, how do you value your own time?

Being the first to start work, the last to clock off, the last to send an email at night, the “Spartacus” to work crazy hours at the month or year-end is undoubtedly essential to the company to get the job done, but is it valued?

For sure, you are busy, but your value should be in effecting change, looking to bring innovation, and improving practices towards benefiting your company. It can’t just be based on the hours of constant repetition that we all know so well.

Many hard-working finance departments are often understaffed, working with strict deadlines, working longer days, always on email, and constantly under pressure to provide the next week or month accounts. You may find it hard to recruit new staff, yet the mountain of work keeps growing. You might even be reluctant to delegate more as it’s “easier to do it yourself in the short term.” While it’s understandable that it can be tempting just to put in the hours, working harder and being even busier isn’t the answer.

Your family /work balance is more critical than even longer hours on repetitive finance activities. Your value to your employer is on the outcome, the difference you can make, and the benefits gained, not how hard you furiously run that hamster wheel of repetition, constant spreadsheet wrangling, and after-the-fact -reporting from one month-end hurdle to the next.

Why not start valuing your time in different ways? Don’t judge your performance on the hours you do, but consider it on the difference you can bring, the efficiencies you have engineered, and the direction you will steer the company. Your value to your company is not stubbornly doing what you have always done. Cloud AI and automation challenge what you have always done to empower you to ask, “Why must I keep doing it the old way?” and “Can it be better?”

Innovative software is meant to be a catalyst; it’s an opportunity to refresh your historic practices with innovation and to question the “why”. To challenge your work practices that, in most cases, were formed to work around the limitations of your historic software. Your organisation isn’t wedded to the how; it’s married to the result, and that’s where you can bring innovation, change, and lean processes, at the same time freeing more valuable time for family.

The list of repetitive and often mind-numbing tasks that are the staples of accounts departments can so easily evolve for the betterment of the company, your work-life balance, your personal empowerment, and better staff retention.

11 essential timesaving changes you can easily champion

  1. If you spend more time working in Excel than your accounting software, you need modern and more insightful accounting software. You should be able to view the majority of your reporting analysis or consolidation live at the click of a mouse, within your modern software – it shouldn’t fall to a manual extraction and manipulation in Excel to overcome the limitations of your most essential accounting tool.
  1. Why should you enter the same repetitive transactions every week or month? Why not use automatically recurring transactions to avoid such constant re-entry? Configure once and let run until their planned expiry, improve accuracy, forecasting, and save quantifiable time.
  1. Do you find your team constantly entering other people’s data? – from purchase orders, expenses, requisitions, or timesheets? Why double the workload and continue rekeying other people’s data? With scalable and affordable cloud software, you can empower end-line users to self-enter their expenses, requisitions, orders, and timesheets with full approval routing, saving valuable accounting time and empowering your colleagues.
  1. Use pre-populated template transactions to pre-populate fundamental analysis or coding data, leaving the data entry colleagues to only fill in the unique details, cutting data entry time by anywhere from 30% to 50% on every transaction. Improve the data entry and save finance hours every month in corrections, adjustments, and re-coding.
  1. Time-consuming bank reconciliations are a thankless essential task. With machine learning AI you can train your automated bank reconciliations to self-allocate, to perform automatic matching of 95% of all transactions automatically, saving vast amounts of recurring tasks.

Not only can 95% be reconciled automatically, but why not seamlessly create new entries in your accounts (which the bank statement might surprise you with) while in the middle of your bank rec? Seamless workflow and self-allocating.

  1. Recurring/automatic month-end journals and accruals can starkly decrease your month-end tasks. The month-end shouldn’t be a distraction. It should be a seamless movement from one month to another with few surprises in a well-managed accounting function with software and practices throughout the month to minimise the month-end burden.

  2. Reduce inter-department queries on customer or supplier order status, budget availability, payments, and expenses, by empowering your users to have real-time live access to their pertinent data on demand via smartphone or browser entry – empower and support your users. Help them provide better customer service. Help them be self-sufficient in answering their own queries rather than constantly repeating queries to your department on the same areas each week in week out.
  1. Workflow approvals ensure that your accounts system has complete visibility of all commitments, requisitions, and data relevant to your businesses. No more scrambling around for copies of invoices or manual updates on purchases/deliveries… base all your essential management and cash-flow reporting on up-to-the-minute live data and stop chasing for straggling invoices or updates from disparate departments.
  1. Are you scrambling for copies of invoices, dockets, and receipts in a world of dispersed staff? Why not simply drag in your pdf invoices or any backing documentation into every transaction in iplicit? From sales orders to purchase quotes, invoices or delivery dockets, or staff lunch expense receipts. Embedded within their relevant transaction in iplicit, they are available for anyone to view, inspect, and audit, to save time consuming searching, copying, and forwarding. Even improve the speed of your audits where everything is at hand in one place.
  1. Are most of your reporting days spent consolidating your disparate entities in bolt-on software or Excel? You most certainly need true multi-entity accounting software with consolidation built in as standard. Why can’t you expect auto-consolidation from within your software, compiling constantly as your data is entered? Why should it be a separate external task clouding the group financial reality and full of cumbersome manipulation and intercompany journals?

What benefit can you bring to your organization, what change projects can you undertake to revolutionise the account’s function, or what in-depth advice, forecasting, and planning could you specialise in and pioneer if only you had the time? What added-value contribution can you make? What long-lasting change empowering your colleagues, improving customer service and benefiting your organisation and maintaining a better work-life balance.

With the right tools it is possible to work smarter and not harder.

Don’t settle for the same. Demand more of your financial software and feel proud and valued once again.

Alan Connor
Managing Director
Iplicit Ireland