Today’s CFOs are responsible for much more than finance. Results from a recent McKinsey & Company survey suggest that the duties assigned to CFOs is on the rise. These duties are now including overseeing their company’s digital activities and issue resolutions outside of finance. Understanding business technology and staying close to future tech trends is critical for today’s CFO and these top accounting and finance trends for 2021 should be on every CFO’s radar.
Top 5 Accounting & Finance Trends for 2021
1. Automated Accounting Processes
Common, repetitive tasks and decision-making can be simplified, expedited and improved with office automation software. Information can be streamlined and flow through the system with very little human interaction. Automation is not about replacing people with machines, but it can eliminate confusion and minimizes errors. In addition, waste and slow-moving processes are eliminated allowing staff to perform at higher levels of productivity.
For example, a simple invoice payment process in your accounting department can be expedited. This enables payments within days instead of weeks. When a paper or electronic invoice arrives, it often requires review and approval by the person who procured the item. It then needs to be reviewed by management and the finance team. In a manual world, this process can take hours or days as it moves through the organization. The invoice can be lost or caught in a bottleneck. In an automated process, the incoming invoices are electronically captured, indexed, and routed for the necessary approvals. Data is then posted back to an ERP — and only flags a person if there are exceptions.
2. Cloud Based Accounting
The cloud is becoming a popular place for accounting services and offers a number of benefits.
- Companies have access to their system anytime and from anywhere. Employees are no longer bound by internal networks and distant data centers.
- Cloud service providers assume responsibility for all system upgrades and deployment, freeing IT Staff to pursue more important tasks.
- Subscriptions to services fall under operational, not capital expenses, and are only acquired when the company needs them – further enabling predictable budget planning.
- Cloud providers leverage economies of scale to provide security beyond anything most businesses could practically do in-house. This again frees up IT, so they can focus on more strategic projects like system integrations.
3. Remote Workers
The current pandemic has proven how well organizations can function with remote workers. Due to technological advancements and the emergence of computerized accounting systems, accountants working from home are able to continue to produce excellent results. With many organizations planning to have their staff permanently continue to work remotely, operating costs are reduced within the organization.
4. Simplify and Secure Audit Preparation
Internal and external audits ensure accurate reporting and healthier corporate behavior. It’s not just the accounting department that feels the pain — everyone is affected by time-wasting document searches. In 2021, precise monitoring of audit trails will continue to grow in importance.
Technology can make this process virtually painless. An intelligent digital document management solution empowers finance and other teams to prepare for audits with total control. Simple queries pull together relevant information and deliver it digitally. For publicly traded companies, it offers a way to monitor who is accessing highly confidential financial data.
5. Information Security
In today’s world, information has never been more valuable and vulnerable. Headlines daily discuss data breaches and ransomware that threaten the privacy of employees and customers, including the financial stability of an organization. The frequency of these attacks & threats are no accident.
The CFO and the finance organization must invest in secure technology to manage their information. Every system, (including ERP, analytics tools, document management) must adhere to the strictest security protocols. It’s fair to say that this “trend” will likely continue to top the priority list of every CFO in companies of all sizes for the coming year.
The trends of 2021, and the challenges and opportunities that accompany this new year, require your team’s time and attention to continue to ensure success for your organization. As you look to the future, it’s recommended to partner with an office technology company that specializes in cloud automation for finance organization.