Software has revolutionised accountancy over the last decade, with increasingly sophisticated and user-friendly packages coming to market all the time.
The upshot is that a large chunk of an accountancy practice’s core work can be automated at low cost, improving profitability, business resilience and the client experience in one fell swoop.
However, software is not yet omnipotent and, despite the fanfare, still has its limitations. It cannot do everything a person can do.
I spoke recently with Alastair Barlow, Founding Partner at flinder. He said that the first thing he does with any process is to assess whether it can be automated. If a task can be automated, the firm goes ahead and does so.
However, he was quick to point out that there are a wide variety of processes accountancy firms handle that cannot be automated and require the more evaluative approach of a human, who can understand what is important and how to interpret information in context.
Some of these processes need to be carried out face-to-face with clients, or at clients’ premises, or require a detailed understanding of a client’s circumstances, values and goals.
However, a significant number processes, including much of the work involved in bookkeeping, accounts and payroll, fall into the category of being better carried out by a human but with little to no benefit in carrying them out locally.
This insight has two significant implications – the first is that it is then usually going to be inefficient for a firm to carry them out in-house, while the second is that in-house staff time could be better spent on the value-adding activities that demand face-to-face contact and local knowledge.
To understand better how these insights could translate into a profitability boost for your firm, feel free to contact me directly for an informal chat.