Historically, “doing the books” in a business was mostly a manual job, with accountants relying on lots of paper documents, spreadsheets and a pen or pencil to record the company’s essential financial information for either quarterly or end of year reports.
Today (while some businesses still rely on the archaic mode of financial reporting), digital technology has revolutionized this process, however, now comes the challenge of dealing with the mass of choice available when it comes to choosing the right software for your financial reporting.
It's important to choose wisely as the right software can make or break your accounting function.
Get it right and you end up with a streamlined and efficient system, working to make your finance team more efficient, productive and generally happier in their job. But, if you get it wrong, you risk not only not improving your current processes, but potentially risk making things worse.
Below, we look at some of the essential considerations you should keep in mind when considering financial reporting software.
Accounting has moved far beyond the traditional back-office function it is often labelled as. Today, largely driven by client expectations, accountants must offer greater flexibility with more remote working, often working from client offices or at least having the ability to work on documents while “on the road”.
Using cloud-based accounting software, your teams can access documents and information from anywhere with internet access, meaning you’re no longer reliant on being in the office to get your work done.
As well as allowing your teams to work from anywhere, your financial reporting software should also enable them to do this while still collaborating with the rest of the team, not leaving them working in isolation.
Allowing teams to work on the same documents at the same time removes silos across your business and ensures everyone is working towards the same results.
You can make the process of reporting much easier and quicker, whilst removing the risks of employees working on the wrong version of documents, or accidentally overriding previous work.
Can you easily import data?
If you’re moving onto a digital accounting platform for the first time, chances are you have a lot of data that needs to be imported into the system. Even if you’ve had your software for a while, importing data remains an ongoing task as you move through the year.
The best accounting software should allow you to bring your trial balance and transactional data into the system from any ledger, whether through Excel or a direct GL interface.
Once the data is imported, you should be able to easily match GL codes to the disclosure framework and simply populate key information (director names, registered address) etc to build your financial statements.
Produce consistent accuracy
Reporting accurately is a business critical function that your accounting software should help you with. This is particularly important now given frequent changes to reporting standards and legislations.
Your accounting and reporting software should help provide this level of accuracy across the business by automatically tagging items and content whilst also flagging when information is missing – and making it easy to add additional information or supporting evidence during the reporting process.
Efficient, reliable, collaborative and compliant
Ultimately your accounting software should be making your finance and accounting teams more efficient and productive while allowing them the freedom to complete tasks from anywhere and work collaboratively as part of a mobile team.
Your software should also be taking the risks of compliance out of the reporting process, making it simple to create new reporting templates, or edit existing ones, whilst ensuring data entry is easy and making it possible to add additional supporting evidence with no friction.
Any accounting and reporting software which fails to do these things is failing your firm, therefore it could be time to shop around for a better solution.
If you’re still not sure about accounting software or how you and your business could benefit, download our How to Digitally Future Proof your Accounting Practice for more info.