Why Do Some Accountants Resist Automation?

11. November 2021

Junior accountants and invoice clerks are still sometimes forced to spend a large portion of their working hours doing routine tasks with limited added value – manual transcribing of documents into the accounting system, processing routine orders or chasing their superiors for invoice approval. However, most of these tasks could be easily, safely and inexpensively eliminated by automation. Why are there people or entire companies that are still resisting automation?

„It has worked for years, so why change it now?“

Because, if you don‘t change it now, you will give your competition a leg-up. Digitization is permeating all areas of industry and the sooner you integrate it into your accounting, the sooner you will see results.

A lot of companies have their well-established processes that they have been fine-tuning with their employees for years and that have worked for them for a long time. However, our surveys show that manual data transcribing from documents often leads to mistakes: freshly-trained invoice clerks have an error rate of 10% and experienced ones about 2%. By implementing digitization, you will basically reduce your error rate down to zero. 

What is more, you can launch the automation process gradually, for instance by implementing a system for the automatic receiving and approving of documents. The extraction software will receive the invoice from e-mail and extract all the important information from it. Then it will forward it to the employees in charge of the approval process and afterwards upload it into the information system. The accountant or invoice clerk just briefly checks that everything is in order.

Electronic data interchange (EDI) takes things to an even higher level and significantly simplifies your communication with suppliers. Orders, delivery notes and invoices can be exchanged in a structured form and this process is, for the most part, fully automated and doesn‘t require manual transcribing of data into your information system.

„We do not want to give up paper“

Our surveys show that accountants like to actually put their hands on their invoices. In the past, some of them used to say the same thing about using cash. And just like we as a society got very quickly accustomed to paying by card or phone, the transition to electronic invoicing tends to be just as fast and painless.

Not only does eliminating paper benefit the planet, but it also speeds up business processes. Endless leafing through folders packed with documents can be replaced by a few clicks in a computer program.

Accountant Iva Šmerdová from Morosystems reminisces about the times before introducing the extraction software iNVOiCE FLOW: „We had to manually correct a lot of invoices, which took us unnecessarily long. I estimate that the complete processing of a single received invoice took us 15 minutes on average, and as for complex invoices, they could easily take 20 minutes.“ Now, each invoices takes 5 minutes.

„We don‘t want to get on the wrong side of the law“

A big topic for companies is document archiving. In some companies, the electronic archiving takes the form of photographing and scanning paper documents, which is not sustainable. It is faster to work directly with electronic invoices.

In addition, your documents are safer on cloud storage than in a box in the archive. As for us at GRiT, we are using servers from Amazon Web Services, a market leader in cloud services.

For some companies, the lack of clarity surrounding electronic archives in legislation is a major deterrent. According to the VAT Act, the authenticity of the origin, the integrity of the content and the legibility of tax documents must be ensured. This is something we thought about when developing our systems. Invoices and documents alike are accompanied with an electronic signature as well as a time stamp and can only be accessed by authorized persons who have the necessary permissions.

Your path to digitization is open

After implementing automation, we have helped over 2500 clients and dispelled heaps of fears.  Our survey showed that what clients value the most is the speeding up and simplifying of their work. Implementing programs for the automation of accounting often ends up unifying the processes in the entirety of the supply-demand chain. This brings about the end of invoice printing, manual data transcribing and other dull activties. By taking small steps, you can eventually have modern, fast and secure accounting.

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