Midsize business

What is automated accounting? A guide with benefits & examples

Gone are the days when you had to spend countless hours inputting data into an Excel spreadsheet. Thanks to machine learning and artificial intelligence, accounting processes have been completely reimagined for the digital age. If you’re tired of time-consuming manual accounting slowing your business down, then you should consider switching over to automated accounting.

Automated accounting is the use of software to complete traditional accounting tasks. Many business owners are hesitant to switch over to automated accounting. Usually, this is because it requires changes to your process, requires a financial investment, and is new to you.

However, accounting automation isn’t something to shy away from—it should be embraced as a useful tool for your business. Automating accounting workflow can save you time and help you ensure that your financials are as accurate as possible. In this guide, we’ll give you a rundown of what automated accounting is and how it can benefit your business.

What is automated accounting?

Automated accounting is using software to complete accounting tasks. Computerized accounting is nothing new, but over recent years, automation has increased the functionality of these programs by leaps and bounds.

By leveraging artificial intelligence and other sophisticated functions, accounting software can do everything from tracking and recording transactions to generating financial statements. This means that repetitive tasks like data entry and checking calculations are taken care of, so accounting professionals can focus on big-picture duties.

Automated accounting definition: the use of accounting software to complete traditional accounting tasks

While Microsoft Excel is an undoubtedly useful tool, it’s time to upgrade your accounting. Advanced accounting software options like QuickBooks, which can revolutionize how your business handles accounting processes.

Automated accounting vs. manual accounting

The main difference between automated accounting and manual accounting is that software is responsible for completing virtually all aspects of your bookkeeping and accounting. Instead of having a fully staffed accounting department or contracted CPAs to help you with these tasks, the software does most of the work for you.

While automated accounting doesn’t completely eradicate the need for the help of an accounting professional, it can minimize your reliance on one. Accounting software serves to streamline all the minor tasks necessary for accounting, but an accountant’s perspective can still be valuable to your business. For instance, an accountant can interpret insights and financial data and help you make informed decisions about your business moving forward.

Benefits of automated accounting

Whenever you make a change for your business, it makes sense that you’d want to ensure that it’s a value-adding investment. According to the Journal of Accountancy, 79% of executives believe AI in accounting leads to increased productivity—among other advantages. No matter how simple or complex your company’s accounting is, rest assured that automated accounting can significantly improve your accounting workflow and overall operations.

Benefits of automated accounting

There are many benefits of automating accounting for your business:

  • Saves time: Whether you or an employee are currently completing bookkeeping and accounting tasks, it’s eating up valuable resources. The value of time savings shouldn’t be underestimated. Switching your accounting system over to automated accounting can save you the time it would take to enter information, check your calculations, run reports, etc. And that’s not to mention the domino effect it will have on other workflows. If you use external financial services, this means less billable hours and for in-house accounting staff, increased productivity.
  • Reduces errors: Manual data entry can be rife with errors, especially when recording a large number of transactions all at once. By integrating your accounting software with other tools, data can be automatically updated, ensuring that it is recorded correctly.
  • Saves money: Instead of having to hire a full-time accountant, you can pay for a software subscription to do the majority of the work for you. QuickBooks accounting software starts at $25 per month. This tool can significantly streamline accounting processes, meaning your finance team will need to dedicate less time and resources to these functions.
  • Provides valuable insights: Instead of having interpretations of your financial data left up to you, you have access to detailed, easy-to-read reports. Having a good understanding of your company’s financial situation is critical to better decision making and long-term stability.
  • Improves cash flow management: Many business owners struggle with cash flow management, which can be detrimental to their livelihood. Understandably, cash flow management can be difficult, especially if accounting is done incorrectly. By automating your accounting with sophisticated software, you can access tools that will make forecasting your cash flow much easier. With real-time data analytics and reporting, you can get accurate cash flow insights at a glance.
  • Simplifies tax filing: Filing taxes, whether on a personal level or business level, is something most of us dread. However, with automated accounting, filing business taxes becomes much less of a burden. Track mileage, store receipts, track sales taxes, and maximize deductions, all with QuickBooks accounting software.

In addition to these advantages, automated accounting with a cloud-based software solution is much more secure. As you know, keeping financial data safe is essential because of the increase in cyberattacks over the last decade. Not only is cloud storage safer, but it’s also accessible from anywhere, allowing you to keep tabs on and share financial information at any time.

Potential difficulties of automated accounting

Potential difficulties of automated accounting

Some potential difficulties that may arise if you decide to automate your accounting processes include:

  • Technical issues: Whether it’s your computer, internet connection, or getting to know your software, technical issues can sometimes occur. However, while technical issues are possible, they are few and far between. Plus, if you’re using QuickBooks, we offer robust product support that includes the use of predictive technology to offer you help and resources before problems arise.
  • Time for training: When you switch over to automated accounting, you will likely need to invest some time in training to get everyone comfortable with the software. Fortunately, modern accounting software is built to be user friendly, so you can get your team adjusted in no time. With QuickBooks Online Advanced you can book a free product tour.
  • Complexity: For some businesses, certain accounting software can be too complex or costly for their needs. These bloated programs can be overwhelming and difficult to navigate. That said, you can find automated accounting solutions, like QuickBooks, that allow you to select tiered plans based on your needs.

The benefits far outweigh any perceived disadvantages that you may be considering when it comes to whether or not you should automate accounting.

Key qualities to look for in accounting software

79% of executives believe AI in accounting leads to increased productivity. Source: Journal of Accountancy

Not all accounting software is created equal. If you’re considering automating your business’s accounting, you should take the time to compare different software—specifically looking for the following qualities:

  • Intuitive user interface
  • Robust features
  • Cloud-based accounting
  • Integration with other tools
  • Multi-user access
  • Mobile app
  • Time tracking
  • Auto-sorting—sales, expenses, sales tax, etc.
  • Invoice processing and easy-to-use templates
  • Reports with meaningful insights
  • Payment processing
  • Cash flow management
  • Inventory tracking
  • Advanced API

You will find that QuickBooks accounting software checks all these boxes—plus much more. Automate your accounting today with QuickBooks Online Advanced.

5 qualities to look for in accounting software

By finding accounting software with a comprehensive range of tools, your business benefits across the board. Once you automate your accounting system, you increase productivity and open up resources to tackle other challenges. While it might seem like a small change, automating accounting can have a lasting impact on how you run your business.

How to switch to automated accounting

Closeup of tablet with accounting information

Switching from manual to automated accounting is a process, so you will need to plan for a transition phase. To make the change as smooth as possible, here are a few key steps you can follow:

  1. Find the right accounting software for your business’s needs
  2. Plan for a date when you will start transitioning and notify team members who will be affected by the change—the CFO, your accountant, and finance departments primarily
  3. Give your team access to resources that will help them learn about the new system and schedule training for anyone who will need it
  4. Decide whether you want to migrate all of your financial information or start fresh in the new accounting period
  5. Set up your software by personalizing your preferences, creating invoice templates, and connecting to other programs, your bank account, etc.

Having the right foundation in place is the easiest way to ensure you make the most of accounting automation—and save yourself a lot of headaches. Large, midsize, and small businesses alike can benefit from accounting software that’s been customized to their needs.

Get ready to make the transition

Accounting automation is such a powerful tool that it is used both in the accounting profession and by businesses. Make the switch from manual to automated accounting to eradicate those time-wasting challenges of outdated accounting processes and help your business grow. Developed by Intuit, QuickBooks accounting software is a sophisticated program that empowers your business to operate more efficiently, gain a better understanding of your financial standing, maximize tax savings, and plan for the future.

Frequently Asked Questions: Automated Accounting

How will automation affect accounting?

Automation will actually streamline daily accounting and finance operations. Automation can help improve quality of governance, reduce risk, provide more insights, and improve business projections.

What is an automated accounting system?

An automated accounting system enables the collection, storage, and processing of financial data that business professionals can use to make key decisions.

What accounting roles will be affected by automation?

Entry-level jobs may find that much of their work is automated, which may change the ways new accountants gain experience and training in the field.

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