The accounting industry continues to face numerous challenges that demand innovative solutions. The ever-increasing volume of emails, time-consuming administrative tasks, and limited resources hinder productivity and growth.
In our recent webinar with Accountancy Age, “Mastering Efficiency: Revolutionizing Accounting Operations through Automation", we gathered a panel of industry experts, Lucy Cohen, Co-Founder at Mazuma, Bev Wakefield, Owner of Vibrant Accountancy, and Ideagen Mail Manager’s very own Enterprise Account Executive, Ben Thomas, to discuss the transformative power of automation in overcoming these challenges.
You can watch the webinar recording below:
The email dilemma: A productivity drain
A poll revealed that a staggering 43% of the audience spends more than five hours per week in their email inbox. This unfortunate statistic is a common issue across the accounting industry.
Ben emphasized that excessive time spent on emails can lead to significant inefficiencies and hamper growth. Responding to standard inquiries, data entry, and repetitive tasks consume valuable time that could be better utilized in more strategic activities.
Bev echoed the sentiment and highlighted that limited resources often prevent firms from onboarding new clients and tackling additional workloads. A lack of automation in information gathering, setting up new clients, and handling administrative tasks creates bottlenecks that hinder scalability.
The power of automation
"Automation is like discovering cruise control on your car. Once you start using it, you never want to go back. It's about finding the quickest route to the right answer for clients."
Lucy Cohen, Co-founder of Mazuma.
It is important to embrace automation to streamline processes and increase efficiency. Mazuma, the first-ever subscription-based accounting service for small businesses and micro-businesses, has built its success on automation, speed, and compliance.
Lucy stated, "If I could do as little as possible, I really would because I want to spend my time doing things I enjoy or value. That's why we constantly use automation to eliminate repetitive tasks and streamline processes."
One key application of automation is responding to standard inquiries. Frequently asked questions like requesting a UTR number or deadline dates can easily be automated, relieving accountants from repetitive tasks.
Bev’s practice integrated different software and tools to streamline their workflow, from the initial onboarding of clients to managing tasks, reducing the need for manual intervention.
- Proposals are automatically converted into bills
- Client details are updated across the systems
- Tasks are assigned seamlessly to relevant team members
"Automation and efficient processes are hugely important to us [Our Vibrant Accountancy]. It helps us take on new clients without worrying about resource constraints and ensures consistency in our operations."
Bev Whitfield, Our Vibrant Accountancy
Email automation can significantly contribute to easing bottlenecks in accounting practices. Firms can enhance productivity and efficiency by setting up systems to automatically handle standard inquiries, send reminders for deadlines, and triage incoming emails.
The importance of efficiency for attracting talent
There are staffing challenges accounting firms face in working with smaller teams. As businesses grow and take on more clients, the administrative workload tends to increase significantly. Automation not only addresses productivity challenges but also plays a crucial role in attracting new talent to the accounting industry.
In response to the common perception of accounting as non-sexy, the panelists agreed that automation could make the profession more appealing to the younger generation.
Automation can positively impact employee satisfaction and retention by reducing the burden of manual tasks and enabling accountants to focus on more strategic and rewarding work.
Long-term commitment to automation
One of the major challenges faced during this process is change management. Introducing automation requires getting people to adopt a new way of thinking, which can be challenging, as change often takes individuals outside their comfort zones. However, the long-term commitment to continuous improvement is crucial for the success of automation initiatives.
To overcome resistance and ensure buy-in from the team, involving them in decision-making is vital. Allowing team members to champion automation fosters a positive attitude toward new systems and encourages their active participation in the implementation process.
Break free from email chains!
Excessive time spent on emails and administrative tasks can hamper productivity and growth. Automation streamlines processes reduces bottlenecks, and enhances efficiency, making accounting a more attractive profession for the new generation.
By embracing automation tools and practices, accounting firms can transform their operations and thrive in the digital age.
As Lucy Cohen put it, "The importance of being lazy" and automating tasks that don't require human intervention can free up time for more valuable and rewarding endeavors. Of course, we don't mean being lazy in a negative way. We mean being efficient and effective with our time. Automation can help us do just that.
As the world is changing rapidly, mastering efficiency through automation is the key to success for modern accounting practices.