Not many accountants today will remember 16 column ledgers and those that do will know that the first digitisation of accounting took place when PCs and Excel became the accountants’ new tool, quickly followed by general ledgers and a whole host of other software that made the accountants’ lives simpler.
So while the principles of accounting haven’t changed in a long time technology has moved along, which means it is now possible to produce an up-to-the-minute cut of the numbers, the ability to forecast the coming days, weeks, months or years and to produce analytics that shape and direct organisations in quicktime.
The only constant through the evolved practice of accounting, therefore, where CFOs are critical to business decisions, is the financial data, which remains at the heart of all financial reporting.
Recent CFO focus has been on “push of a button” graphical representations of their business to make decisions, leaning towards Finance Transformation in terms of the ERPs that will ‘solve’ all their problems; however, all too often this doesn’t materialise.
Central to any Finance Transformation, though, is the data and how that data is accumulated. At present, many accountants whose role it is to create the analytics for performance management struggle with poor data, requiring them to spend precious time ‘cleansing’ the data for consumption before inventing increasingly novel ways to present their findings.
The rise in robotics and AI means that in general terms the art of book keeping is dead; however, the need for accurate data remains the fundamental building block for all the accountant’s activity followed by the need to map, automate and standardise processes.
Also, we would be remiss if we didn’t look at our current situation, and leverage and plan for changes to the way we work: with the data, the systems and the skills of the people using and interpreting it. Ever more important, therefore, is the need for a connected, integrated system to collect data and access it from anywhere.
The next leap forward in accounting, therefore, is not Finance Transformation solely through a new ERP, but taking a long hard look at why transformation is required and how the data comes together to ensure quality and accuracy at speed and the ability to access and interpret it from anywhere.
The Key Questions
- Does your data come together with little or no human intervention and is it ready for consumption?
- Are your upstream systems and processes efficient and effective and can you access them from anywhere?
- Are you working to common standards?