Streamlining workflows to free up resources, cut costs and save time are key objectives of many digital transformation projects but successful outcomes usually depend on the ability to integrate with existing systems, says GroForth’s Sarah Daly.
Digital transformation is changing how businesses operate. Accounts and payroll are no exception and, increasingly, accounting and payroll solutions go well beyond recording and classifying business transactions to provide tools that support collaboration and analyse key performance indicators in real time.
We see this a lot in our work with GroForth clients. While individual businesses may differ in their rate of adoption of new technologies, there is growing awareness of the value of being able to digitally exchange data with partners like your HR, department, bank and Revenue, as well as having 24/7 access to up-to-date, reliable information online and via mobile apps.
Digital transformation in the accounts department
At the most basic level, in an accounts department, the processes that benefit from digitisation include:
- Generating invoices and statements
- Generating aged debtor and creditor reports
- Processing VAT information
- Processing bank reconciliations
- Integrating with your accountant’s systems
- Providing purchase order functionality
- Providing cost centre analysis
- Coping with foreign currency transactions
However, unlocking the real value of digitisation comes when you secure easy access to relevant, up-to-date information via tools that enable you to analyse internal data (and, potentially relevant sectoral or other external data) in realtime and take action to improve your business’s performance and profitability.
Collaboration should be a priority
Often, another objective for digital transformation projects is to accommodate integration, strengthening collaboration between internal departments to enable your organisation work more effectively with your key business partners.
When it comes to selecting solutions whether for accounts, payroll or other operational tasks, knowing where to start can be a challenge for small businesses, so it’s worth seeking advice from your accountant who will know what works well in businesses like yours.
Basic points to check include:
- Will the solution integrate with your HR, CRM and payroll systems?
- Is it compatible with your accountant’s systems?
- Can it take feeds of data from your bank and other relevant business partners?
To get the best out of your investment in technology it’s important to choose solutions that can meet your requirements, integrate with key partners, and have the capacity to grow with your business.
Who will use the system and how will they use it?
You also need to think about who will use the system. What knowledge do they have of accounting and bookkeeping? What training will they require? How will the system support your planning, preparation of budgets and forecasts, cost control, evaluation of employees’ performance and prevention of errors and frauds? Will it streamline your processes and provide reporting templates that align with your key performance indicators? It is important that you and your users understand how to identify and leverage the data that drives performance.
Budget and other potential constraints
Before investing in new technologies, bear in mind that your choices may be constrained by budget and/or what you want the technology to do for you. Cloud-based solutions can be cost-effective and scalable for a small business but you need to assess the pricing structure, evaluate the support that will be available to you, and ensure that this will continue to meet your needs into the future.
Data privacy & security
It is obviously important to ensure that the technology solutions you choose comply with industry standards and enable you to meet your legal and regulatory obligations.
Data privacy and security are also critically important. The potential to fall victim to data breaches and cybercrime are a risk that every business needs to consider. You need to be confident that your information will be stored and processed securely. Questions to ask include:
- Where will your data be stored?
- Will your data be safe and secure?
- How will your data be backed up?
- How will it be restored in the event that your backups need to be relied on?
The outsourcing alternative
While integration, access to realtime business information and enhanced collaboration between internal departments and business partners are key benefits of digital transformation, not every business has the resources to invest in technology and/or the knowledge and skills to analyse and interpret data in-house. Depending on the functions you want to enhance or transform, outsourcing can be a sensible and cost-effective option, particularly for small businesses. Functions that are typically suitable for outsourcing include IT and HR support as well as accounts and payroll. If you are interested in finding out more about outsourcing, check out our article on Understanding the Business Case for Outsourcing.
GroForth provides bespoke virtual accounts and payroll services for businesses across Ireland. For information on these services and details of how we can help your business, please get in touch. During busy periods, the best way to contact us is by email.