Digital hubs, the next wave of disruption from FinTech companies, allow seamless and streamlined business operations for auditors to work remotely and in real-time, using data analytics, automation, and graphical representation.
Emerging technology allows auditing firms to redesign their workflow and improve business opportunities. Technology enables a novel analysis of structured and unstructured data in ways not possible before. For example, information from non-traditional sources (such as social media, TV, and the internet) can be evaluated and processed with the pertinent financial data. This information when supplemented by analytics will help get a clearer picture of the company’s risks, its financial reporting controls, and its operating environment.
Where does it help?
Companies are becoming increasingly transparent in disclosing their strategies, execution, and scope. This involves not just giving out corporate statistics, but revealing other KPIs such as employee retention, or social and environmental impact, for example.
Technology is pivotal to moving to and maintaining a transparent approach. This further involves asking the right questions such as the datasets required. This helps in securing the quality of data input, the detection of aberrations, and alleviation of risks. With a creative approach, technology will help to conceive where differences can be created and how.
Reporting teams require a high standard of data input, with a deep understanding of how precise the information is and where it is coming from. This requires an insight that is more far-reaching than traditional audits.
For instance, there are online and interactive platforms that offer visibility to clients over their individual audits, with real-time communication from the team. Such collaborative approaches heighten a CPA firm’s ability to share more relevant insights leveraging accurate information – leading to greater confidence.
CPA firms look for aberrations that could impact a business strategy or insights that could challenge the integrity of the reported information. Traditionally this was done by combing through piles of data from various sources in manual journals.
Technology simplifies this by removing the need to look for the ‘where’ and allowing CPA firms to focus on how and why. This further helps ingest entire data sets across large organizations, understanding where protocols are being followed and which processes are redundant. This provides a unique insight into the company culture and the hurdles faced in embracing modern methods and technologies.
Identifying and mitigating risk is expected by shareholders. Traditionally each risk was evaluated as a separate entity. Technology brings together the different variables involved and the interconnected nature of different risks. This helps organizations manage and track risk more efficiently and effectively.
Technology can never replace human potential. It can at best supplement it. CPA firms deploying technology will have time to bring more extensive expertise into the challenging and qualitative factors that arise.
Robotic Process Automation [RPA]
RPA has gained a rep of being similar to Artificial Intelligence. However, the intelligence in play here is more on a macro level on Excel-like sheets rather than robots. In today’s digital ecosystem with multiple integrated tools and metrics, this can be simply programmed by end-users to deliver high-volume, rote, rules-based tasks.
Moving to cloud-based accounting systems and the seamless uniformity of processes has made data mobile, easily accessible, easier to handle and analyze, and less prone to manipulation and mistakes. The use of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can eliminate the requirement for manual mediation to cover the final stretch.
RPA is routinely used when the end result of one financial process serves as the input into another, or where multiple sources of information need to be consulted for a single task. For example, processing timesheet information by temporary personnel. The pertinent data is collected by Optical Character Recognition (OCR) from the paper records and fed into the payroll system. Using RPA significantly reduces errors and allows looking for anomalies in a much more comprehensive manner.
RPA is capable of functioning without downtime, is faster, more accurate and scalable. However, prior to choosing RPA, it is imperative to have well-maintained systems.
Further, deploying technologies such as RPA will bring about organizational restructuring. Role-based structures are often the norm today, but RPA is task-based. Working with a virtual workforce can have an impact on personnel efficiency and productivity.
Looking for help in transforming your accounting firm? CPA Innovations is a one-stop solution when it comes to accounting and finance back-office services. We partner with accounting firms to help them enhance their productivity, efficiency, and profitability. With world-class processes, a highly qualified and experienced team, and robotic process automation, we are here for you every step of the way.
Please reach out to us today for your free consultation.