You don’t have to look hard to find the headlines…
“Robots could take 4m UK private sector jobs within 10 years”
“Accountants are screwed: Will a robot take your job?”
It’s without doubt, that headlines like these contribute to this narrative that an increase in automation (and artificial intelligence) equals the demise of the human workforce.
And the result of this is that there is still some hesitation amongst accountancy practice owners when it comes to fully embracing automation.
So, I’m here to tell you that this narrative is wrong…
Automation isn’t your enemy.
The value of automation and AI is in saving people time, NOT replacing them.
If you’re worried about it replacing your existing team members, there’s no need.
Automation won’t replace your existing team members, it will enhance the service that they’re able to provide to your clients.
By being able to automate the manual, recurring tasks that take up so much of your team’s time, they’ll have more time for other things, like having real, human-to-human conversations with clients.
They’ll spend less time on tasks that have low value (e.g. data entry, setting up new client’s folders and documents) and instead can spend more time building deep, meaningful client relationships and asking the right questions.
Automation has some great benefits…
One of the major benefits of automation, is that it’s normally more accurate and reliable than human team members.
It is, you can’t argue with that unfortunately.
It doesn’t need to take a sick day when it’s feeling under the weather and caught the latest winter bug.
It won’t drop the ball and make simple mistakes that people naturally do when they get tired and jaded.
Which means that automation is actually more reliable for certain types of tasks.
Again, just to reiterate, this doesn’t mean that because automation is more reliable and accurate for certain repetitive tasks that it should replace your team.
It just frees up their time to focus on higher-value activities, the things automation and AI can never do.
What can be automated in my accountancy practice?
So, when it comes to automation, what’s possible?
Quick answer – a hell of a lot.
Here are a few examples of some repetitive processes that can benefit from the introduction of some automation.
1. The onboarding process
Bringing new clients onboard is always an exciting time.
But, when you do bring new clients onboard, there are always a lot of repetitive, transactional tasks that need to happen.
This includes things like sending proposals and contracts, setting up direct debits, creating client folders, sending welcome emails and so much more.
All of these tasks represent a huge opportunity to save your team time, as you can automate your entire onboarding sequence.
By automating aspects of your onboarding process, your team will spend less time carrying out these transactional tasks and more time building relationships from the beginning with these new clients.
One piece of software I’ve been really impressed with is Practice Ignition. It’s Zapier integration is incredibly useful. Check out an example workflow below from Trent McLaren:
Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?
Why not check it out (or another similar piece of software) and see how much time it could save you when signing up new clients…
2. Automate client reminders
As accountants, we’re deadline driven and that means having to chase clients up for required information on time for the majority of things we do.
This means you and your team members can spend an enormous amount of time manually chasing clients for information when instead it could be automated.
These kinds of things can be automated in workflow/practice management software, such as AccoutancyManager or Glide.
Or, you could use your CRM system (e.g. Infusionsoft) to do it as well.
Figure out whatever works best for your practice and begin automating today.
Automate data entry
Let’s face it, it’s 2019.
Surely the days of manually entering data are behind us?
But I know for a fact that so many accounting practices are still manually entering data.
When I acquired my first accounting practice in London back in November 2017, they were still typing up receipts manually into excel spreadsheets.
I knew this could be done better, so the very first thing I implemented at this practice was Autoentry and Receiptbank to remove the manual data entry jobs and automate the process instead.
It’s time to embrace it
Once you accept that automation isn’t your enemy, won’t replace your team members and will in fact enhance your overall service and client experience, getting started is easy.
Just starting with automating the above three things will save you and your team a considerable amount of time, and that’s time you can spend on doing things automation and AI will never do, having human-to-human conversations and building human-to-human relationships.
Are there other things you think could be automated in your accounting practice in order to save precious time?