[IMGCAP(1)] Technophobia, known to non-clinical types simply as a fear of technology, is throttling the potential of many CPAs and CFOs. More technically defined as “the abnormal fear or anxiety about the effects of technology,” it may be the difference, borrowing from Jim Collins’ best-seller a few years back, between good and great. Let’s have an anonymous show of hands: How many of you reading this right now feel uncomfortable or anxious around advanced technology? There’s good news – help is not only on the way; it has arrived.
Are you really even a technophobe?
But let’s start by pointing out that the accounting profession is by nature, technical. CPAs, CFOs, and controllers are versed in the technical aspects of accounting rules and principals. They understand the importance of attention to detail, the nuances of process, and the need for controls. Staying up to date on tax laws and mandates might make the most technical software developer or IT consultant run for the hills, but it’s a requirement for the CPA profession and requires hours of continuing professional education (CPE) courses in federal and state taxation.
CFOs and CPAs usually have acquired advanced skills in Microsoft Excel, the workhorse of many finance and accounting departments and (unfortunately in too many cases) the de facto reporting software of many companies. If you’re using pivot tables, Visual Basic, macros, Vlookup, and other advanced Excel functions, you might not actually be a technophobe.
If you’re involved in audit, risk, or compliance work, you need to have a deep and technical skill set that includes extreme attention to detail, a large amount of regulatory knowledge, and even the ability to analyze large data sets. By the standards of many other professions, this is pretty technical stuff.
Technology is changing, but it’s also getting easier to use
And even though there have been a great number of changes in accounting technology, the truth is that today’s cloud-based SaaS solutions take the burden of technology off of the accounting team. Leaders of the finance and accounting function no longer have to be concerned with servers, software installations, versioning, scripting or the details of networking and VPN.
With today’s accounting and ERP solutions, software is delivered reliably and securely via the internet. It’s accessible from anywhere, anytime. Modern accounting systems are configured via clicks, not code. Those configurations are basically guaranteed not to break when new product enhancements are released. Costs are subscription-based and predictable. This allows CFOs and members of the accounting team to focus on the actual requirements of their business and the desired outcomes of moving to a new technology. Ninety percent of an implementation now involves the gathering of functional requirements. Processes can be built, automated, and more easily adjusted as business needs change. Technology now allows the CPA, CFO, and controller to be a process architect and strategic asset to the business.
With new advances in SaaS and cloud-based accounting and ERP software, those Excel skills you’ve spent years acquiring are transferrable to powerful reporting, analytics and business intelligence tools that are often built into the accounting system of record. Instead of being mired in creating reports for the executive team and board members and then modifying those reports based on feedback; or tracking down some piece of data that has been called into question; you can design reports that are delivered to management automatically. You can provide dashboards so that the consumers of financial data can get a quick snapshot of what’s happening in the business in real time, and can drill down on any report or dashboard or graph to see the underlying data right down to the transaction level. You can include operational data in those reports due to the integration capabilities of these new tools, broadening your role in the company from financial steward to strategic partner.
Not only can you do this – you need to do this
So, while it’s sometimes daunting to stay on top of all the changes in technology today – whether it’s with social media trends, Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats, doorbell cameras, or even accounting and ERP software – it’s important to keep in mind that hiding in the dark days of legacy software can cost your company and your career. As other CPAs and businesses streamline their processes, gain deeper insight into their key performance indicators, and increase productivity through collaboration tools, it’s naïve to think that you’re not in competition with those early technology adopters. The good news is that these new tools are easier than ever to implement and use…especially for a technically savvy accountant such as yourself.
Marcus Wagner is founder and CEO of AcctTwo, a consulting firm and provider of cloud-based financial management solutions. AcctTwo specifically addresses the challenges unique to software companies, not-for-profit organizations, oilfield services and midstream oil and gas companies. You can connect with Marcus at www.AcctTwo.com.
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