Automation the accounting process involves using software to automate essential tasks related to finance and accounting. These tasks can include, but are not limited to, accounts reconciliation, updating financial records, and creating financial statements with minimal human intervention. One important thing to note is that accounting process automation is close to, but distinct from robotic process automation (RPA). While RPA merely provides a temporary fix for aging, legacy systems, accounting process automation is generally about using software to overhaul arcane financial and record-keeping operations.

The process to Automate Immediately:

1. Purchasing

When companies purchase goods or services, there’s generally a lot of paperwork involved from purchase orders to contracts to other forms. Purchase order automation can help make sure nothing gets lost and that all required forms in a procurement process go where they should. Automating purchasing activities can give you the security and protection of multi-step AP processes, without the time and costs associated with manually reviewing and processing paperwork by multiple stakeholders.

2. Travel & Mileage Reimbursement

Companies can burn hundreds of hours per year simply filing, processing, and verifying minor operating expenses like travel and mileage reimbursements. This process isn’t just superfluous, but it’s harmful to productivity across the entire organization.With automation, employees can head into work trips with their travel pre-approved and reimbursement all set. There’s no quibbling with accounting or waiting weeks after the trip to get reimbursed for expenses.

3. Expense Reports

One thing that’s changed a ton in accounting in the past 10-15 years for a lot of companies has been the submission of expense reports. For eons, these reports were handwritten or printed-out spreadsheets from Microsoft Excel with stapled receipts, taken over on-foot to a company’s accounting department. To be sure, many companies likely still handle expense report submission this way. But in recent years, it’s also become possible for employees to automatically fill out and route expense reports. Better, they might not even have to submit receipts, since some software can integrate with payment platforms, capturing and storing transactional data. Automated expense approval software not only saves the accounting department’s time, but it frees up the entire company from rote administrative work.

4. Accounts Payable

While more companies treat accounts payable like a necessary evil, the truth is that the AP department holds an enormous amount of power over the entire business operation. Without efficient AP processes that follow best practices, companies can lose favor with important vendors, rack up expensive fees, or just not receive important goods or services when they need them.

Automation can help companies know when supplies need to be ordered, payments need to be sent out, and invoices tracked.

5. Sales Order Process

With automation, companies can spell out every step of their sales order process, ensuring that nothing is left to chance and that orders go out on time, with everything in them, and at the right price.

6. Payroll

Why have an operations manager or human resources employee stumbling over payroll every pay period? This can become a nightmare for companies as they grow, consuming vast resources to assure everyone gets paid on time. Automation lessens the payroll headache, notes one accountant, who writes, “As a fan of automation, I love services and features that allow me to put things on autopilot so things like payroll can be completed, handled digitally and ensure you won’t miss any important filings like 941 or a DE9.” Automating employee payroll is a no-brainer for any organization spending time manually processing each pay period.

7. Monthly Closes

The monthly close process can bring a ton of stress and uncertainty for companies. A recent survey from Docuware noted that 90% of respondents were under pressure to close their monthly financials quicker, with just 39% satisfied with their close process and an abysmal 28% of people trusting their month-end close numbers. Automating the monthly close process can ease frayed nerves while providing more accurate data for companies.

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