How the role of the accounts department has evolved

When I was a trainee accountant with hardback paper ledgers and cashbooks, it was beyond us to anticipate how technology would so greatly change the role of the accounts department within the organisation, how our duties and tasks would evolve, and how technology-aware we would become.

The phrase “tail wagging the dog” springs to mind, when I think back to the mindless volume of data entry that occupied 95% of our working month. The remaining (and begrudged) 5% was then spent on collating this myriad of ledgers into a (frequently late) retrospective of how the previous month went financially. Too little information, too late to be of benefit, and after too much effort. Oh, and very little thanks too.

We certainly couldn’t envision the 360° business view that is now the norm in the best ran businesses and enabled by your essential efforts. Our main focus was on the thankless repetitive data entry which was not only the journey but the destination. Did we ever make much use of the end results of all that data entry, which produced stark and minimal analysis some considerable time later? Not at all! The actual production of the “accounts” was ultimately just a temporary distraction from the mind-numbing constant data entry, light on detail, and rarely appreciated by disparate departments or divisions.

Fast forward 30 years and the accounts teams of 3 decades ago wouldn’t recognise how the role has changed, the tasks they can now perform, the tools that can support them, and the trust and respect that is given to the best ran accounts departments.

Automation, machine learning A.I., and intuitive software design have revolutionised that role.

From being an automaton spending my days on repetitive handwritten data entry, the accounts department of the Dos software era could accomplish a month of my previous duties in weeks, the department of the Windows software era reduced that to days, and now the accounts department using True-Cloud accounting software can have these duties performed in literally hours.

The rest of this valuable time can now be spent working “on” the business rather than working “in” the business.  Contributing, strategizing, planning, and managing.

From automated transactions, alerts & triggers, automated bank reconciliations, pre-populated template transactions, single data entry screens across myriad legal entities, integrations to 3rd party systems, streamlined workflow approvals, live links to Excel and BI software, and instant access to all data as and when needed and all from any device, anytime, and anywhere…. The accounts team from 30 years ago would love to be as empowered, as informed, and as essential to your growing organisation as the Cloud-aware, a technology-adept modern accountant is today.

Not only can the right accounting software provide unrivalled efficiencies, but it can now deliver exceptional real-time analysis, trends and forecasts that will revolutionise how you manage, plan, strategize, and evolve your business decisions and forecasts.

The skills of today are vastly different to those of yesteryear. Your collaboration across all departments with unrivalled insights, your understanding of technology and how it can aid and assist every department, your analytical thinking, business acumen and company-wide support is aided by the right accounting software, the right processes, and the right vision.

Who knows where the digital revolution will take both you and your accounts department into the decades ahead.

Alan Connor
Managing Director
iplicit Ireland