Virtually all accountants and specialists in accounting offices today use new technological solutions that support their daily work. The young generation of accountants is particularly open to this type of tools.
If “business is good,” why digitize accounting at all?
There is no well-functioning enterprise if its accounting is not working properly. If no one monitors the finances on an ongoing basis, it is possible to miss the threats that may arise in the medium term. In Poland, regulations frequently change, so companies have to adapt to new regulations regularly and meet legal requirements. So what if the business works great if we do not make the declaration on time or make it incorrectly. The financial consequences can be so severe, penal fiscal; they can even threaten the functioning of the enterprise. Modern digital technologies, optimally implemented software for handling financial and accounting processes can perfectly support the accounting area in the company by automating many repetitive processes or checking the correctness of declarations, settlements and reports.
Much research shows that we are on the tail end of digital transformation. What is the obstacle for Polish accounting to catch up with the rest of Europe in this respect?
In many business areas, we are indeed at the tail end of Europe, but this observation does not apply to the accounting area. Compared to other EU countries, the organization of accounting in Poland is not at the very end. Accountants, especially those who are now entering the market, are very open to using technological innovations. Introducing new technologies is also a natural way to reorganize financial and accounting departments. I predict that they will be better organized in the next 5-10 years than Western companies.
Does the digitization of accounting differ depending on the size of the company?
There is a clear difference between large companies and the SME sector. Large companies invested much earlier in improving the work of financial and accounting departments. There are more financial and accounting processes in more complex organizations that need to be handled on an ongoing basis. Initially, there was a need to hire more and more accounting and bookkeeping specialists to handle these processes. However, the constant employment of new people resulted in a significant increase in labour costs. That is why organizational changes took place – thanks to the implementation of new technologies, software, automation of many processes, the increase in new jobs was halted, and the reorganization of the accounting areas was focused on. In small companies, one accountant was enough for many years, the owner of the company had no motivation to improve the entire department.
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In the case of accounting offices, we see a big transformation in the last ten years. Many offices have significantly changed their customer service processes. Many offices want to stand out on the market by providing modern services, among others, thanks to modern technologies. For example – more and more often, offices do not expect clients to deliver documents in person and sign them on the spot but instead focus on implementing electronic communication channels, scanning documents and exchanging them in a digitized form.
How to introduce automation in accounting?
It is a multi-stage process. There must be changes in the team itself, and employees must be encouraged to change working methods. It is also necessary to adapt the company’s infrastructure to new requirements. There is a need for a mental change that accounting professionals must undergo. This can be a time-consuming process, as it may not be easy for people like accountants to adapt to the fact that you don’t have to come to the office every day and work from home instead.
Entrepreneurs are more and more willing to use digital technologies in the area of finance. 11 percent of financial departments already apply process automation, and 17 percent. Intends to do so in the next 3-5 years. Despite this, companies invest too little in the development of employees and financial and accounting departments. Digital transformation requires new competences from them, while most do not develop their skills fast enough to consider the impact of artificial intelligence, automation and new technologies on the industry. 76 percent organization spends less than 10 percent on employee training. budget for digital transformation – according to the research of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.
– Financial specialists must be properly prepared for what the future holds. They are required to have a specific set of essential skills from the point of view of enterprises and allow them to make business decisions. To develop such skills, a new look at the role of the finance department is needed. This will allow finance specialists to be prepared for the challenges ahead, says Amal Ratnayake FCMA, CGMA, the CIMA Institute of Management Accountants (The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants).
According to last year’s CIMA report “Future of Finance”, already 54 percent. financial departments in companies use cloud solutions, 11 percent – robotization, and 25 per cent. – advanced data analysis. The percentage of enterprises that intend to introduce them in finance in the next three to five years is 23%, 17% respectively. and 24 percent This shows that companies are increasingly using the support of digital technologies in the financial area.
In the coming years, artificial intelligence and automation will also be of key importance in this area. in order to streamline processes or detect reporting irregularities.
– Data collection and analysis is automated. There is nothing wrong with that, because these are tedious, routine activities. The most interesting area for us is the area of work related to using the collected data to draw conclusions and make financial decisions, says Amal Ratnayake.
According to CIMA research, according to 74 percent. Finance specialists, by automating simple processes, will save them time and focus on more strategic tasks. It can also increase their role in the organization – from accountants and management accounting specialists to becoming strategic business consultants.
However, digital transformation and the adoption of new technologies in companies also means that financiers must have the right skills to cope with the new reality. Over 50 percent of global leaders in the area of finance believe that their teams’ competencies will have to significantly change over the next three years as new technologies take over traditional tasks.
– Shortly, financial professionals will be required to possess skills different from what they currently have due to the pace of change. If it continues to be so fast, it will have to redefine the scope of our tasks and the type of work we do, says Amal Ratnayake. – We need analytical and digital skills and their continuous improvement. We must constantly improve our competencies as technology develops.
The President of CIMA emphasizes that apart from solid digital skills, finance specialists also need interpersonal competencies that will enable efficient cooperation within the entire organization.
In a new world where finance professionals have more time to draw conclusions and make business decisions, we have to work with other departments to do it well. We need to listen to people, listen to what they say and understand how the company works. You also need leadership skills, emphasizes Amal Ratnayake.
Currently, most financial teams and specialists in the field are not developing their skills fast enough to take into account the impact of artificial intelligence, process automation, and other new technologies on the industry. On the other hand, the companies themselves do not emphasize it either. As shown by the survey conducted by the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (International Association of Certified Professional Accountants created by the CIMA Management Accounting Institute and the American Institute of CPAs) and KPMG International, 76 percent. More than 670 organizations that currently plan, develop, or implement financial transformation programs allocate less than 10 percent—your training budget to remedy the most important competency shortages of their employees.
– This can be problematic because we need people who have the right skills to develop our businesses. Without this, the transformation in the area of finances will not be successful, stresses the president of CIMA. – At CIMA, we invest in research and development and understand the importance of new technologies. We develop educational tools and resources that our members use to improve their qualifications.
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