Remote work is on everyone’s mind these days. How do you know when you need tools to connect teams? How do you know when it’s time to automate processes? As usual, the big brains at Amazon are way ahead of us.
The Guardian reports, “In the early days of Amazon, Jeff Bezos instituted a rule: every internal team should be small enough that it can be fed with two pizzas. The goal wasn’t to cut down on the catering bill. It was, like almost everything Amazon does, focused on two aims: efficiency and scalability.”
Small teams being more efficient, the two-pizza rule offered a straightforward measure of when a team was too big to be maximally effective.
However, the effect of the two-pizza rule on Amazon’s second aim – scalability - was a bit more complex. Bezos directed his teams to create internal processes that relied on technology, not in-person, face to face meetings, to get answers and achieve results.
“If an advertising team needed some data on shoe sales to decide how best to spend their resources, they could not email analytics and ask for it; they needed to go to the analytics dashboard themselves and get it. If that dashboard didn’t exist, it needed to be created. And that approach needed to cover everything.”
How did they do it? APIs.
The Value of Automation
In the early 2000s, Amazon wanted to launch an e-commerce service but struggled to build an external development platform because the company, like most start-ups, hadn’t planned well for future needs.
According to TechCrunch, “Instead of an organized development environment, they had unknowingly created a jumbled mess. That made it a huge challenge to separate the various services to make a centralized development platform that would be useful for third parties. At that point, the company took its first step toward building the AWS business by untangling that mess into a set of well-documented APIs.”
Although APIs are enjoying a surge in popular understanding due to the new ways of working forced during the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve been around for a long time and are well understood, both in terms of security and implementation.
An API (or application programming interface) is simply a set of instructions for computers. You can imagine an API as a waiter who takes your order, communicates that information to the kitchen, and returns with the dish you requested.
As Amazon learned, with APIs you can:
Automate key processes and reduce hours spent on non-billable work
Avoid entering data manually to reduce the risk of errors
Increase visibility of client needs with connected solutions
Connect disparate third-party systems
Gain data-backed insights for analysis and decision support
What are the benefits of APIs for accounting firms?
The single largest benefit APIs offer a firm is efficiency. If there is any part of any of your workflow process that makes you think, ‘There must be an easier way!’ then your firm might be a good candidate for APIs.
APIs allow firms to automate manual, time-consuming processes, which frees up staff for higher-value work. In many firms, there are multiple people performing the same or similar tasks. If you automate that task using APIs, it consistently gets done the same way but in less time. Not only that, but you also don’t have to worry about that process from a succession planning or business continuity perspective since it’s not reliant on the knowledge of a single person.
Finding the right provider for API integrations
Once you get the green light, it’s time to start vetting providers. A good provider should have experience solving the kinds of problems your firm is facing. Ask tough questions and make sure the provider has a solid plan to address your specific needs.
Thomson Reuters has a dedicated team focused exclusively on APIs. Our customers drive everything we do, and so many of our APIs are developed in direct response to the challenges they face in their daily work. Thomson Reuters currently offers API integrations in Confirmation, GoSystem Tax RS, GoFileRoom, FirmFlow, and ONESOURCE with more coming soon.
Whether you’re feeding your team with two pizzas or ten, the value of automation remains.
APIs allow firms to do more with less, reduce human error and manual processes, free valuable staff from busy work, connect teams and clients no matter where they are in the world, and allow your firm to make data-backed business decisions with built-in analytics.
Give your firm a competitive advantage and unlock endless ways to increase efficiency, recruit and retain top talent, and better serve your clients by booking an automation consultation with Thomson Reuters API specialists today. Our dedicated team will evaluate your workflow and offer guidance on where your firm could most benefit from automation via APIs. Learn more.