Technology Automates the Playing Field

As an accountant, it used to be that your office was supposed to look like a forest’s graveyard: dead trees everywhere in the form of paper. Boxes and boxes of files, forms, and printouts clogged your office storage. When computers came along, software such as word processors and spreadsheets changed a lot of that. The first desktop-based specialized accounting software made an even larger impact, and as accounting became automated the boxes of paper began to dwindle.

The automation didn’t stop there. As computers continued to evolve, information became more available and more useful. Today, accountants have Xero, which provides access to accounting data and full integration with the cloud.

Computers haven’t closed all of the gaps. Most businesses still manually handle paper bills, invoices, and expense reports. Data entry is still a time-consuming issue. Even digital information isn’t entirely automatic: we have email, FTP, and clunky manual import processes.

Automation Gaps

Once you realize what automation can do, the remaining gaps are glaringly obvious. They become more frustrating. Take the automatic dishwasher, for example. There’s no doubt that the dishwasher has saved hundreds of thousands of hours of labor, but there’s still a gap. If you get a dishwasher installed, somebody still has to rinse the dishes in the sink and load them into the washer. (It’s not going to be me!) The dishwasher-loading gap makes washing dishes seem like a chore, even if it’s far easier and faster than washing dishes by hand.

Closing the Gaps

Gaps in accounting technology work the same way, but we’re working to reduce them. Xero’s partners continue to create new solutions that address all manner of gaps in cloud accounting automation.

Manual data entry is obsolete, so why do we keep doing it? While we work really hard at moving away from paper bills, they still get sent digitally in formats that don’t make them any easier to process. There’s less physical clutter, but there’s still a lot of email that needs to be looked at and handled manually. However, comprehensive solutions now exist that can automatically handle importing almost all of your bills and documents into Xero. When hard copies are unavoidable, sophisticated character recognition software is available to scan and automatically process those, too.

Sales tax is another gap that used to be painfully slow and time-consuming. Understanding how tax regulations worked in different jurisdictions took time and expertise, even in in the digital age. Luckily, services like Avalara AvaTax interface seamlessly with Xero to handle the confusing mess of cross-jurisdiction sales tax rules.

Organizations like Avalara provide evidence that Xero partners are effective at connecting processes and systems. You can find solutions that can handle everything from inventory and document management to eCommerce to human resources integration. Automation is winning, and the gaps are being closed.

It’s Not Obvious Until Somebody Points It Out

Sometimes you don’t even notice the gap was there until somebody closes it. Customer relationship management (CRM) is vital to most businesses, but there was a point at which we didn’t notice the lack of integration between CRM and accounting. Now contacts and leads can be automatically merged with customer activity.

This is the case with many different business roles. When a gap is closed, automation makes previously disconnected elements of your business flow together. Automation means that more can be done with less effort.

Gaps aren’t necessarily the same across businesses. Xero leverages partners who can also target specific industries, meaning that small businesses have an even easier time communicating with accounting firms and transferring the necessary information.

The Gaps of the Future

Accounting software has been around for several decades now, and the improvements technology has brought us have helped us do our job faster and better. Finding the next task to automate is a challenge currently being tackled by innovative thinkers. They are building the next great generation of innovative products and services to make the future of cloud-based accounting even brighter.