From mitigating unprecedented macro environments to adapting to new operational workflows, professionals in all industries find themselves dealing with major changes driven by emerging technologies. A digitally progressive world calls for rapid transformation to stay competitive. Technologies such as cloud-based data management, process automation and advanced analytics are poised to elevate CPA firms in new and empowering ways.
CPA Firms Need Full-Firm Automation
CPA firms execute hundreds of processes daily. While preparing a statement, onboarding a new customer or completing a tax return, accounting staff follow standard operating procedures. These processes dictate how information is distributed throughout the organization and assign accountability to each employee.
Systematic and controlled processes are imperative for all businesses operating in the finance industry. Tools like Business Process Automation (BPA) software streamline processes and improve operational efficiency. Process automation eliminates human errors, while visual process design and low-code platforms help create efficient workflows and encourage firm-owned process development. In other words, a BPA platform allows your firm to build automated workflows tailored to your specific needs allowing for greater efficiency, transparency, and productivity.
Furthermore, the right BPA solution can effectively address the need for a single source of truth. It increases visibility into the entire business and skillfully streamlines data exchanges between the existing technology systems in the firm.
Enhance your CPA firm with BPA
Most firms have solutions that help them deliver their core client accounting, taxation, auditing and consulting services. However, many of these business solutions primarily focus on the end product and neglect people-oriented processes including operational, administrative, marketing and client collaboration that need equal attention for the success and growth of the firm.
Business Process Automation for CPA firms offers the capability to utilize plug-and-play apps that automate these behind-the-scenes tasks with ease. Some areas that BPA can help your firms automate are:
CPE Tracking & Notifications
Annual adjustments and write-offs
45 Day Rule
Creating a Center of truth
The Need for Two-way Dataflow throughout your Business App Ecosystem
Even boutique accounting firms can benefit from BPA. It helps firms manage workflows and maintain steady communication with clients while automating business processes. These applications can assign tracks, ensure that tasks assigned are completed on a timely basis and monitor work in progress. Furthermore, the ability to capture process analytics will allow your firm to identify bottlenecks, manage workloads and assignments, increase worker efficiency and continuously implement process improvements.
Commonly, CPA firms use different applications for each distinct set of operations. Often, different departments work in silos. These systems need to work in collaboration with each other to achieve a single source of truth. Your BPA solution needs to support a centralized, single source of truth to achieve full-firm automation. The intersection of data from the firm’s ecosystem of applications provides the ultimate insights needed for high performing firms. Having a single source of truth enables a consolidated business process approach and enhanced visibility.
Your BPA software will also need to integrate seamlessly with local and third-party applications. Typically, firms will need BPA solutions with the capability to interact directly with local databases or via custom API’s as well as hosted third-party applications via published API’s.
Rapid response times
It's important to obtain the right information in a timely manner to make better decisions at the firm. However, disjointed processes and data silos are usually complex to manage, making it difficult for anyone to untangle and comprehend. You need relevant data that's preprocessed, delivered in real-time and made actionable.
CPA firms need Modern BPA Solutions with Embedded Analytics
Modern CPA firms need advanced data analytics that can help in continuous process improvement, monitoring and auditing. The most essential features that CPA firms need in today’s competitive environment are:
API-driven Data Integration and Warehousing Capabilities
Typically, CPA data is spread across multiple databases. The challenge lies in automatically gathering all required data from legacy systems, web services, applications, or internal databases into a centralized repository. A BPA solution for CPA firms needs to enable a single source of truth so departments can collaborate using the right data without manual intervention. Your firm needs a BPA platform with data warehousing capabilities that consolidates multiple sources of data.
Data-driven alerts automatically send notifications to key users when important thresholds are crossed. These data alerts may be sent as an email, or as a notification in a connected workspace. In addition, your BPA solution needs time-based charts that use relative date filters for people to automatically receive alerts as new data appears.
Pre-built Dashboards and Advanced, Automated Reports
Accountants need deep insights and well-built dashboards to effectively visualize data and make well-informed decisions. Comprehensive reporting with real-time search capabilities helps business leaders understand the performance of firms at a granular level. Therefore, your firm will need built-in, real-time reporting, searches, and key performance indicators (KPIs). These tools can help manage pipelines, visualize data, and fine-tune forecasts while helping understand key business performance drivers.
Modern firms also need automated report generation through an intuitive, easy-to-use interface. This will help reduce manual and repetitive reporting tasks such as formatting, running, and emailing reports.
The future with BPA and Enriched Analytics
Bi-directional data connectivity to the firm’s ecosystem of applications with BPA delivers highly efficient processes along with near real-time analytics. A modern BPA solution will seamlessly integrate with your existing applications. It will allow you to connect all your existing applications to standardize processes and enable better transparency.
At Century Software, we advise our clients to take a staged approach to evaluating and implementing Business Process Automation. First, identify and tackle the most inefficient, time consuming, disconnected processes that will have the biggest impact on the firm. Once familiar with the capabilities of BPA through the initial deployment, identifying and prioritizing other gaps and inefficiencies becomes much easier.
In a connected ecosystem where data is available from a multitude of applications and the workflows themselves, the operational analytics become richer and more insightful. Clients have also stated that having BPA provides the freedom for them to purchase the best-of-breed applications from any vendor that best fits their operational and departmental needs without the worry of integration into their technology ecosystem. It frees them from having to purchase a suite of solutions from a single vendor or investing in an expensive ERP solution.
CENTURY SOFTWARE NORTH AMERICA INC.