I’m just going to say, I’m glad we offer advisory and other services outside of bookkeeping, because if I were a straight-up bookkeeper today, I’d be seriously concerned about my job.
That’s the message I took away from a recent accounting conference I attended after first-hand discussions with various technology providers exhibiting.
Technology is making the bookkeepers’ job as data entry clerks obsolete.
If your bookkeeper isn’t embracing new technology, you are overpaying for that position. Gone are the days of the stacks of bills that bookkeepers used to justify how busy they were. Gone are the stampers that bookkeepers used to use to mark paperwork as “entered” and gone are the staplers, adding machines and pretty much everything that has to do with paper.
If you use QuickBooks, your accounting is going digital.
Today, there are technologies that take a scanned or emailed bill, read it, code it and send it to your accounting system. From there, someone can choose to validate the coding or have it directly booked to the general ledger. Bank reconciliations are becoming easier, data feeds from banks and credit cards are a must, and now through various algorithms, QuickBooks is able to “learn” the coding for invoices and make suggestions as to which account it should be booked.
In addition, EFT, EDI, direct deposits and other sophisticated transaction types formerly only available to Fortune 500s, are now available to small businesses through QuickBooks. So paper checks, if you still get them as payment, may be a thing of the past, as is running to the bank to deposit them.
I’m stunned by the advances in app development that tie into QuickBooks, but what is more impressive is the integration of various apps with each other. There is an “ecosystem” of applications evolving around QuickBooks that require fewer touches and lead to a higher level of accuracy.
So what does this mean for bookkeepers, both independent agents and those internal to organizations? It means that they either need to evolve or they will find themselves out of work.
We will likely never see a time where we have to get rid of the bookkeeping function entirely, but the role of traditional bookkeepers will have to change.
- They will become data validators rather than data enterers. Instead of processing paperwork and keypunching in data, the systems will push the data to the accounting system, often pre-coded. The bookkeeper will merely police the system to make sure everything is being booked properly.
- They’ll focus on activities computers can’t replace. Let’s face it, some things still need a human touch: that includes customized billing and vendor management.
- They’ll be redeployed to spend more time on collections and other cash-related activities. The best use of the available time a bookkeeper will have once activities are automated is to have them work on collections and monitoring old receivables.
- They will become system administrators. Implementing the apps and managing the “ecosystem” requires a certain level of skill. The bookkeepers who embrace new technologies will eventually become the experts in these systems and their role will evolve in to administering all of the systems.
The role of bookkeeping is changing, and the role as we know it today is becoming obsolete. Without a doubt, companies who embrace technology are going to have a competitive advantage over those that don’t. They know that their bookkeeping function will be less focused on administration and more on advancing their companies.