When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down operations around the globe, it showed how significant the role of accountants is to sustain businesses. CPAs experienced a paradigm shift in this period – from merely preparing taxes and financial statements to delivering advisory.
By providing meaningful and valuable advisory and consulting, they helped communities, particularly small businesses, to better forecast cash flow requirements and access government-backed relief measures, including the CARES Act, Paycheck Protection Program, etc. In short, CPAs helped the business community tide through the crisis, thus moving from essential to indispensable service providers.
For accounting firms themselves, as remote work set in, the unprecedented move from brick-and-mortar to digital necessitated a rethink and a review of their operating model through a technological lens. This led to the deployment of the latest accounting technology and workspace redesign to maintain productivity.
This blog discusses how accounting technology can benefit CPA firms in the post-pandemic environment.
Accounting Technology for CPA Firms
In his recent address at the 2021 ENGAGE Conference, Tom Hood, Executive Vice President of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA), said, “2020 is the new 2025. The use of artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA), the cloud, and other technologies advanced five years during the pandemic.”
In the face of the pandemic, one thing is clear: firms must leverage technology-driven accounting processes to create agile, future-proof ways of working and create a centralized IT function that can steer the business in the right direction in the face of uncertainties.
The emergence of technology for accountants has enabled them to respond to pandemic-induced challenges efficiently, generate data-driven insights to provide valuable futuristic services, and delight clients to create more business for the firm.
Here are some of the ways emerging accounting technologies can benefit CPA firms in the post-pandemic environment –
– Centralizing data management, mainly through automation (Robotic Process Automation (RPA)) and accounting technology in the cloud, eliminates data silos, errors, and time-consuming tasks (for example, number punching, data entry, three-way matching, assignment of responsibility, etc.). Automation, thus, creates a robust and intuitive datasphere that allows CPAs to easily capture, share, and analyze data sets. This, in turn, improves efficiency, reduces costs, and will enable accountants to focus on strategic tasks that require ingenuity and collective brainstorming.
– 80% of the data generated worldwide is unstructured and stored in various formats across multiple legacy systems. Such data needs to be rendered into manageable forms to allow accountants to uncover its maximum potential and make informed decisions. AI-powered accounting technology crawls through the treasure trove of accounting data and leverages machine learning to surface trends and patterns in accounting information. The system gathers and presents meaningful insights from the myriad of structured and unstructured data stored in legacy and backend systems to help accountants make sense of the “hows” and “whys.”
– The high-quality data and actionable insights generated by AI enable today’s accountants to indulge in complex problem-solving, future forecasting, and adaptive thinking. Moreover, accounting technology supports CPA firms to create an integrated environment that allows accountants to leverage valuable financial data, drive innovation, build resiliency, and develop growth-centric business management plans. Additionally, accountants can monetize such knowledge to develop more value-driven, futuristic accounting services and offer services-as-a-product.
– In the case of a significant event, such as the pandemic, CPAs need access to data more quickly than ever. In such a scenario, the business world cannot draw estimated figures based on the past year. Rather than spending time going out and finding the correct data, automated accounting technology can bring the relevant knowledge to the accountants’ fingertips. Whether the firm is dealing with structured or unstructured data, AI-driven systems can create a cohesive space for accountants to access all information, find trends, and make sense of the available data to build reports.
– Apart from AI, the use of augmented, virtual, and mixed reality technologies can provide new ways to analyze, explore, and share data and help accountants collaborate with finance, strategic planning, and other departments to build integrated, agile, and more efficient accounting operations. Moreover, distributed ledger technologies powered by blockchain are helpful for process development, records management, auditing, and much more.
How Sentient Solutions can help
The scope of work for CPA firms has expanded beyond basic accounting (bookkeeping, payroll, etc.) to a more strategic role, incorporating emerging accounting technologies like AI, RPA, cloud, advanced analytics, and much more.
At Sentient, we help CPA firms improve scale and reduce operating costs with accounting technologies powered by AI, machine learning, and robotic process automation (RPA). We leverage our 25+ years of experience in accounting-tech, along with a highly qualified and efficient workforce comprising a blend of onshore and offshore resources, including Chartered Accountants (CAs) MBAs, and CPAs to improve accuracy, quality, and transparency in accounting activities.
Our technologies for accounting drive significant improvements in client satisfaction and enable margin growth as high as 50% or greater cost savings.
To know more about our services, including staffing, reporting, tax, back-office, or compliance support, please feel free to schedule a consultation with our experts.