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How Accounting Firms Can Choose the Right Solutions for Automation Success

To alleviate accountants’ tedious—but essential—tasks, firms must adopt automation technology. Here are three things to consider.

By Mike Fouts

The accounting profession is at a crucial moment in which there’s massive potential to enhance productivity, elevate client experiences, and prevent burnout. As financial first responders, accountants often find themselves under immense pressure that is only amplified by the busy tax season. To alleviate accountants’ tedious—but essential—tasks, firms must adopt automation technology, an increasingly essential resource in the profession.

Contrary to mainstream conversations around automation and job displacement, many accountants see emerging technologies as catalysts for growth, presenting opportunities to streamline workflows and tackle monotonous tasks. A recent ShareFile survey that examined automation in accounting found that 96% of accountants consider automation important to the profession.

That said, business leaders need to ensure they choose technologies that will successfully address their workforce’s specific needs. These needs may differ from firm to firm because the accounting function can span multiple departments, including tax, audit, advisory services, and more. Professionals require adaptable tools that align with their unique responsibilities and clients’ demands for seamless day-to-day operations. 

Adoption of automation is growing across industries. Here are three tips accounting leaders should consider as they explore new tech solutions to align with evolving workforce and client demands so they can empower their accountants to excel at everyday tasks and deliver great client experiences.

1. Choose technology for year-round excellence

Adoption of automation solutions must address long-term workflow issues and not just temporarily alleviate workflow challenges during busy periods. To pick a technology that consistently meets their accountants’ needs, leaders must start by identifying top frustrations.

In the ShareFile survey, accountants reported that their frustrations often arise because of time-consuming tasks, heavy workloads, and the limitations of their current tech solutions. Without the right technologies, accountants face a perpetual cycle of challenges, which underscores the urgent need for automation solutions to break free of those recurring issues.

2. Ensure seamless integration for optimal efficiency

Overworked accountants are less efficient and effective. Automation has the potential to reduce workloads by helping accountants complete the time-consuming, menial tasks that take up so much of their workdays.

However, to be most effective, automation solutions must integrate seamlessly into existing workflows. Unfortunately, digital transformation can bloat tech stacks when disjointed tools are implemented and fail to deliver the productivity promised. Business leaders must maintain a holistic view of their tech stack and ensure new tools do not disrupt their existing, integrated suites of technologies.

ShareFile also found that more than half (56%) of accountants have too many tools that aren’t integrated, forcing them to toggle between platforms to input data, make calculations, and access essential documents. That, in turn, slows processes during busy times. To address this, leaders must balance the adoption of tools with the risk of tech fatigue, ensuring that technology enhances the work experience for accountants rather than burdening them by compounding existing issues.

3. Adopt today’s solutions for tomorrow’s success

We should be excited about the future of emerging technology and automation in accounting. To ensure that positive outlook continues, leaders must first prioritize solutions that address current challenges. While there might be excitement for emerging, innovative technologies, leaders should balance this excitement with proven, readily available, and functional tools to ensure immediate impact.

With more than 300,000 accountants having quit their jobs between 2019 and 2021, the ongoing accountant shortage underscores the importance of technology that enables firms to do more with fewer resources. When evaluating technology for integration into their systems, accounting leaders should focus on the value proposition that enhanced productivity will drive, especially as the profession works to attract more people.

A bright future ahead

Accountants don’t want automation for automation’s sake. They want it to enhance efficiency and to help them enrich the client experience. Upgrading systems provides a clear opportunity for accounting leaders to elevate their workforce’s capabilities and their organization’s business practices. That’s why automation is integral to the accounting profession’s future, providing ample opportunities to offload menial tasks and enable accountants to focus more on strategic client work. In the long run, embracing automation isn’t just about improving efficiency; it’s a commitment to a better future for both accountants and their clients.


Mike Fouts is chief business officer at ShareFile, a business unit of Cloud Software Group.