The Business Alignment Model: How to Make it Work for Your Company In 2023

The Business Alignment Model: How to Make it Work for Your Company In 2023

In the early stages of a company, a common pitfall is a vague or ambiguous mission. A plethora of ideas, initiatives, and projects can pull a burgeoning business in many different directions, resulting in a convoluted vision. Even with the best of intentions, a business without refined direction will overextend its workforce and resources.

For that reason, it is imperative for emerging companies to ensure all elements of a business are arranged in such a way to best support the fulfillment of its clearly defined, long-term mission. Through use of the business alignment model, leaders can arrange a company in a way that optimally syncs work, structure, and resources to the designated purpose of the business. 

The Case for Business Alignment

Numerous startups(opens in new tab) have seen the consequences of a lack of mission clarity. When the goal for a company is unclear, too much passion, too many visions for the business, and too many expectations can take over and lead to failure. 

Kiko, a calendar app offering API integrations with other tools, was one such example. The user-friendly app was particularly helpful to business professionals and event organizers. Yet, it folded after just three years. The reason for the failure, according to one of the founders, was that the team wanted to work on various ideas and plans at the same time, diverting their attention from their main vision. The CEO admitted that the team wasted time on unnecessary projects. 

The problems created by an unclear or unenforced business purpose aren’t limited to startups. According to a study by MIT Sloan Management Review, only 28% of executives and middle managers responsible for executing strategy could list their company’s strategic priorities — with this percentage decreasing further down the reporting line. Without that clarity, a business is likely to go in many different directions, most of them away from what should be the company goal. 

LG is one example of a larger business detrimentally impacted by a lack of focus. In 2021, LG opted to close its global mobile phone business after over a decade of losses totaling billions. The South Korean electronic giant cited the need to concentrate resources on its growth areas. Media pundits and product disagreed, citing a lack of vision and how mobile phones fit into the company’s larger goal that caused the failure.

Ultimately, when you water down your business and lose focus on the value it provides customers, you lose the opportunity to resonate with your target audience. This is where the business alignment model comes in. BAM can serve as a valuable tool in ensuring the company is directing its resources in a way that will bring the business to its full potential.  

What Is the Business Alignment Model?

BAM refers to the method that helps an organization arrange all elements of a business — including the market strategy and the way the company itself is organized — to best support its long-term purpose. In a strategically aligned organization, all departments, projects, decisions, and functions contribute to the fulfillment of the organization’s mission, vision, and objectives.

BAM works to ensure that four criteria are fulfilled:

  1. The vision is clear and the strategies are aligned and support one another. They should clearly define what the company is trying to achieve, how they will do it and when – with measurable targets associated with each. 
  2. Critical business goals are understood by the entire leadership team.
  3. A broad framework is established for performance improvements that incorporate leadership’s strategic direction for the business and their vision for how the business will operate in the future.
  4. Long-term strategic objectives are combined with short-term improvement projects and tactics. 

Benefits of BAM

Strategic alignment through the BAM is important to the success of a new business for several reasons. It makes sure that everyone in, or joining, the organization is on the same page and working toward the same business goals, effectively enhancing collaboration across departments. 

Especially in a time where talent and budgets might be tight, BAM ensures that resources are optimally aligned to the tasks that are truly integral to executing the company’s vision. 

Lastly, BAM’s emphasis on metrics helps generate accurate reports. In a strategically aligned organization, employees chart their progress against defined targets and will regularly report on their efforts. This data can help businesses make educated decisions about their practices and make changes as necessary. 

How to Put Together a Business Alignment Model

Business Alignment Model(BAM) is constructed by creating a business plan flow chart that starts broad and cascades into more granular components. At Simply iCard, we understand the importance of effectively aligning your business goals and strategies. Our Business Advisory service goes beyond traditional consulting, as we work closely with our clients to provide the necessary resources, strategies, and tools for implementing real digital solutions that foster growth.

  • First, define the company goal. This is the broad mission and vision for the company  and it is set by the executive team. 
  • Second, determine strategic objectives. These are the strategies that will serve as the pathway to realizing the company’s vision and mission. 
  • Third, outline broad initiatives. These are the steps for realizing strategies and are set by leadership and team leads.
  • Fourth, create individual tactics and projects to help fulfill the broad initiatives. These are also set by leadership and team leads. 

As an example, let’s create a BAM for a new mountain bike company with a brick-and-mortar location and a fledgling ecommerce initiative.

  • Company goal: Bring the joy and adventure of mountain biking to a broader audience.
  • Strategic objectives
    • Improve overall sales performance
    • Increase product market share 
    • Enhance brand recognition and reputation
  • Broad initiatives
    • Improve overall sales performance
      • Bolster loyalty among current customers
      • Upsell additional/premium products
      • Increase outreach to potential customers
    • Create a seamless customer experience
      • Improve website usability
      • Increase website accessibility
      • Sync in-store inventory with website 
    • Enhance brand recognition and reputation
      • Gain visibility on racing circuit
      • Promote brand among amateur and elite athletes
      • Increase social media following
  • Projects/Tactics
    • Bolster loyalty among current customers
      • Create a rewards program for customers to earn points for each purchase
    • Upsell additional/premium products
      • Create bundled packages of biking accessories to add onto bike purchase
    • Increase outreach to potential customers
      • Start monthly email newsletter to subscribers
    • Improve website usability
      • Add FAQ section and chatbot to the website 
    • Increase website accessibility
      • Make website format mobile-friendly
    • Sync in-store inventory with website
      • Implement inventory management software
    • Gain visibility on racing circuit
      • Contact Freewheeler race series to discuss possible sponsorship of two races
    • Promote brand among amateur and elite athletes
      • Create ambassador team of 10 unsponsored athletes with social media followings of 3,000 or more
    • Increase social media following
      • Post one feed post and two stories per day on Instagram

Now, when proposing new ideas for the company, it’s clearer what might align and what might fall outside the business’ overall goal. While the projects, tactics, and broad initiatives will likely be changing as each one is achieved and the business grows, strategic objectives are less likely to change. And barring a business pivot, mission and vision shouldn’t be changing at all. 

Bottom Line

In the ever-evolving business landscape, the importance of strategic alignment cannot be overstated. At Simply iCard, our Business Advisory service provides the expertise and guidance needed to ensure your organization stays focused on its mission and vision. Trust us to guide you towards strategic alignment and unlock your business’s full potential.

B2B sales have gone digital – and in a big way. The Ultimate B2B Ecommerce Strategy Guide: 19 Best Practices for 2023 will help you stay current

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What Is Agile Finance? An Expert Guide

What Is Agile Finance? An Expert Guide

Today’s business environment is fast paced, hypercompetitive and constantly changing. It’s no place for the rearview-mirror finance and accounting processes of old. Instead, companies are starting to adopt agile finance, a modern approach to financial management that changes the way finance teams work and create value. Agile finance shifts mindset and focus away from data creation and gatekeeping toward higher-value decision-making and partnership with business leaders.

While this may seem like an obvious objective, many finance and accounting staff could cite a plethora of daily challenges that impede agile finance from taking root, including regulatory and compliance reporting, lack of staffing and difficulty collecting and extracting data from legacy systems. The key to converting traditional finance functions into agile ones is embracing modern technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the cloud, as well as adopting the principles of agile – originally a software development methodology. Considering the potential benefits of agile finance, including improved operational efficiency and employee satisfaction, it’s no surprise that CFOs and business leaders at companies of all sizes are looking to adopt the agile model.

What Is Agile Finance?

Generally speaking, the agile approach combines aspects of advanced technology, culture, ways of working and organizational setup to empower those who are closest to vital information so they can quickly provide real-time data to decision-makers. By applying these agile fundamentals to financial management, a business can create a finance function that embraces digital intelligence above transactional processing and reorients its resources and culture to continually increase the value it delivers. In agile finance, common critical activities, such as record-to-report (R2R) and compliance, are supported by automation to allow staff to focus on strategic priorities. For example, AI and machine learning (ML) can help reduce staff time spent on low-value, repetitive tasks, such as data entry in the accounts payable process, and unlock time for more analysis or process improvement. Agile finance teams can allocate more time to analyzing the proliferation of financial, operational and market data to help create competitive advantages for the business.

The culture of agile finance is characterized by proactive thinking, speed, continual innovation and performance review. The goal of agile finance is to develop a team that is positioned to be a better business partner at all levels, adding value to current operations and future strategy. Common traits of agile finance include operational excellence, digital intelligence and business influence.

Key Takeaways

  • Agile finance refers to the adaptation of finance functions to become more flexible and nimble to better support business partners.
  • Agile finance is enabled by advanced technology, including robotic process automation (RPA), AI, ML and cloud computing, allowing staff members to prioritize higher-value deliverables that influence business decisions and support centralized centers of excellence.
  • The CFO is the leader of agile finance, tasked with reorganizing teams, selecting the right digital tools, revamping staff skills and culture and establishing performance metrics.
  • Studies have shown a correlation between agile finance and increased revenue and profitability.

Agile Finance Explained

Finance teams that apply agile principles look and act differently. Agile organizations are flatter than traditional hierarchical ones, typically eliminating midlevel management from decision-making. Specifically, an agile finance team is organized into small, cross-functional groups that work together to solve business problems and support operations. Some agile models refer to these primary working groups as squads, especially when they are embedded within a business unit. Agile squads are self-organized and autonomous and connected to larger tribes, chapters and guilds to tap into interdisciplinary, cross-functional knowledge and skills. A tribe is a group of squads that collaborate to solve specific business problems. Chapters and guilds focus on professional development and supporting squads. In a finance organization, a squad might consist of staff members from finance, IT, human resources and accounting, working together to deliver on common tasks, such as budgeting, forecasting and the financial close process.

Beyond team organization, the application of agile principles is critical to the success of agile finance. At the most basic level, an agile finance function focuses on strategic priorities. For example, agile finance broadens the typical financial planning and analysis (FP&A) role to include advanced analytics for more comprehensive and accurate forecasts, tapping into financial, operational and market data. In turn, these improved forecasts can be used to better measure performance across the company and deliver timely insights that inform strategic decisions. Other agile principles include customer-centricity, cooperative business partnership, continuous innovation to improve all processes and deliverables and excellent communication and trust among squads and leadership.

Agile Finance Key Practices

Agile finance teams use agile principles to change their approach to serving the business. By reducing the time spent on recording transactions and extracting data, finance teams can spend more time helping to support business decision-makers. The approach leads to a collaborative relationship with business leaders, based on shared goals. It’s important to note that agile finance doesn’t have to be all or nothing. The key to success is identifying which areas will benefit most from agility and then scale and accelerate deployment as needed. Regardless of how it’s implemented, agile finance involves the following key practices.

  • Scale accounting and finance operations. Digital, cloud-based automation helps expand the capacity of accounting and finance operations, creating efficiencies and enabling scalability, especially in shared-services models. Additionally, centralizing centers of excellence fosters standardization, which provides more transparency and better controls. Typical centers of excellence include accounts payable, account reconciliation, financial reporting and FP&A data scientists.
  • Know intangible drivers of value. Agile finance teams go beyond traditional key performance indicators (KPIs) and leverage big data and advanced analytics to unlock, monitor and predict intangible business drivers. In turn, this knowledge provides more meaningful information for business decisions and greater confidence in results. Examples of intangible drivers of value are brand reputation, customer service and customer satisfaction, although the drivers may vary by company and industry.
  • Inform stakeholders of new developments. Partnering with business leaders is a key goal for agile finance, so it’s important to communicate with stakeholders. Agile finance teams should be involved in defining finance deliverables, helping to explain them and soliciting feedback on their usefulness. By doing so, product improvement and development are more apt to be aligned with stakeholders’ needs.
  • Identify opportunities to manage risk. Since agile finance teams put enhanced analysis in front of decision-makers quickly, leaders can identify and address business risks in a timely fashion, without increasing the organization’s risk profile.
  • Expand skill sets. Agile finance teams need employees with expanded skill sets beyond traditional technical accounting and finance training. Agile finance requires competency in data analysis and statistics, combined with market expertise and keen collaboration skills.

Benefits of Agile Finance

Benefits often naturally arise when multidisciplinary finance teams develop strong relationships with the business and operational teams. In addition, the agile principles of operational excellence, digital intelligence and continuous innovation help keep the finance deliverables finely tuned, leading to additional advantages. Consider the following benefits of agile finance.

  • Faster decision-making: Cross-functional squads continuously work together and are empowered to make quick decisions. This allows the finance team’s priorities to be reordered as needed so that reliable, accurate information can get into the right hands faster.
  • Less complexity: Streamlining responsibility and accountability helps simplify financial processes. Small squads reduce the number of cooks in the kitchen, so to speak. Further, increased use of automation and technology reduces complexity by lowering the amount of manual intervention.
  • Equalized data: Agile finance embraces digital tools and leans on IT partners and integrated financial software, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications. This results in a single source of truth for data, allowing teams to focus on the analysis and interpretation of financial data rather than its creation and gatekeeping.
  • Increased revenue: Using advanced analytics, agile finance teams can uncover relationships and patterns that may lead to new business opportunities. In fact, a study by Oracle and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants found that businesses supported by digitally savvy agile finance teams(opens in new tab) are considerably more likely to report positive revenue growth than those that aren’t (46% vs. 29%).
  • Better offerings: Agile finance aims to increase the finance team’s influence in business decisions. Companies that can make informed decisions more quickly are better positioned to capture new market opportunities or new demand from existing customers.
  • Shorter turnaround: Businesses armed with comprehensive information from an agile finance team often realize commercial benefits, such as reducing the time it takes to get new products to market or to adapt existing products based on customer satisfaction.
  • Improved transparency: The cross-functional nature of agile finance teams means that more people from different areas of the business have visibility into the numbers and metrics. This level of transparency helps keep everyone on the same page and provides clarity on what data is the most, and the least, useful to the business.
  • Higher employee engagement: Agile finance demands additional skills — especially softer skills like communication and collaboration — and rewards employees with increased autonomy and influence. For finance teams, this is the holy grail of employee engagement. Unburdened by tedium, finance employees who have significant influence on business operations using creativity and problem-solving skills are more enthusiastic and personally fulfilled. In fact, a recent study by McKinsey & Co.(opens in new tab) found that employee engagement increased 30% in agile organizations. Imagine the positive impact that could have on a business.

How to Achieve Financial Agility in a Business

For a finance organization to achieve agility, it must be willing to adapt its culture and processes. The need for proactive thinking, speed and continual innovation and review may require a business to change how its teams are organized, managed and compensated. Additionally, the business may need to re-evaluate and retrain the long-tenured talent who typically work on finance teams as skills like data analysis, data management, commercial acumen and collaborative communication become more important. To achieve this, a business may need to invest in professional development and tactical support for their teams.

Adjusting processes is also key to achieving financial agility, including the adoption of digital technology, such as RPA, ML and AI. These technologies reduce manual intervention in high-volume and repetitive tasks, and free up staff to focus on higher-value tasks for the business. Bank reconciliations, cash application and invoice processing are typical use cases for RPA. ML organizes volumes of data into patterns to help spot anomalies like fraud and errors, drastically reducing the need for human intervention and enhancing internal controls. And FP&A teams commonly use AI-assisted analysis to forecast sales, inventory levels and cash flows.

How to Build an Agile Finance Strategy

When building an agile finance strategy, businesses must keep the general principles of agile in mind, including a focus on delivering value, collaborating with business units and keeping processes simple and transparent. Businesses also must recognize the demands on finance and accounting teams to keep up with dynamic organizations while maintaining strong controls, meeting regulatory requirements and keeping back-office costs down. Consider the following eight steps when building an agile finance strategy for your business.

  1. Create a statement of strategy that explains the end goal, including the key objectives that an agile finance function should achieve.
  2. Perform a gap analysis to determine where the finance function is today and where it needs to be.
  3. Agree on barometers to gauge progress, including urgency drivers that your business must respond to and initiatives it must achieve. Urgency drivers tend to be external forces causing companywide change, such as supply chain issues. Initiatives are commonly internal tactical goals, such as increasing revenue growth or customer satisfaction by a specified amount.
  4. Evaluate and implement the right technology that at a minimum eliminates reliance on spreadsheets, but more likely incorporates RPA, ML and AI to facilitate speed and scalability. Automation is critical to building agile finance because it frees up time for more value-oriented activities.
  5. Accelerate the financial close so that results are available sooner for analysis and stakeholder reporting. Consider continuous closing, facilitated by the right accounting software.
  6. Move to minimum viable product (MVP) forecasts — simple forecasts that cover basic requirements but can be iteratively improved, such as high-level, rolling 12-month forecasts rather than detailed static forecasts that are revised quarterly. Augmented by AI, forecasts may even be doable in real-time.
  7. Make a people plan. This involves assessing personnel skills, creating professional-development plans and making staffing changes. At a higher level, this step may involve reorganizing functions into specialized centers of excellence, such as proficiency in analytics, forecasting, expense management or liquidity management. This approach allows for more nimble redeployment of expertise across an organization.
  8. Identify and communicate significant overarching assumptions that are expected to be in effect, such as levels of business growth and industry disruption.

CFOs and Agile Finance

CFOs frequently find themselves in the spotlight, tasked with providing strategic insight and plans to fuel future growth. Their charter has evolved from creating and enforcing budgets to helping create business value and avoid problems before they hit the financial statements. As a result, they’re leading their teams to be more nimble, strategic, collaborative and empowered, and they’re adopting agile finance to sustainably deliver the analysis and intelligence that shifting macroeconomic climates — including inflation, recession and supply chain disruption — require.

CFOs are challenged to adjust processes, incorporate the right tools and evaluate their team’s skills to provide value to their C-suite colleagues and the business as a whole. However, they can’t drop the ball on traditional finance tasks, and many are concurrently tasked with reducing costs for their department. As a result, CFOs are turning to the agile approach to meet these conflicting demands, including adopting digital technologies to reduce staff labor on low-value, high-volume tasks and establishing centers of excellence to handle accounts payable, accounts receivable, corporate FP&A and tax accounting. These changes can also help alleviate staffing challenges, such as scarcity of talent, entrenched remote workforces and development of new skills.

In a nutshell, agile finance helps CFOs solve many of their role-specific challenges. Additionally, those who successfully accelerate their teams’ adoption of agile will be in a better position to help drive their company’s growth.

Agile Finance Trends

The tumultuous global environment has pushed the finance function to step up its game. The need for more scenario analysis and nimble, accurate decision support has risen over the recent cycles of pandemic, inflation and supply chain disruption, and it’s expected to continue. Against this backdrop of macroeconomic and societal upheaval, adoption of agile finance is expected to accelerate. It offers a potential solution for several challenges in legacy finance environments, chief among them data collection and aggregation. Here are some other agile finance trends.

  • More businesses are expected to apply agile as a way to manage staffing challenges caused by a persistent global talent shortage.
  • Instances of remote and hybrid workforces are expected to continue, necessitating a move away from on-premises financial systems and toward cloud-based systems and centralized centers of excellence.
  • Finance functions will become more agile through a series of short-term sprints to achieve quick wins, rather than long-term transformation projects.
  • Companies with agile finance functions will be better positioned to thrive during a potential recession because they’ll have the right information to surgically cut costs while also investing for growth.

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Mix equal parts SharePoint and Teams – A recipe for success

Mix equal parts SharePoint and Teams – A recipe for success

Collaboration tools are the utensils of the workplace. SharePoint and Teams, for example, each bring unique features to the table. One provides a central location for all files and news relevant to a specific team or task. The other provides a way to engage with co-workers in real-time, whether it’s exchanging knowledge or sharing memes.  

The trouble boils over when your employees are forced to toggle back and forth between various workspaces and tools in order to collaborate with their team.  

Now, you may not think it’s a big deal, but tracking down lost conversations and searching for misplaced files creates frustrated employees who then become less efficient—which ultimately means less revenue.  

The solution? Combine your collaboration tools into one. Think about it. There’s a reason store shelves are stocked with all-in-one gadgets and time-saving solutions. People prefer to get more done with less and your employees are no different.  

So, how can SharePoint and Teams be combined for better collaboration and efficiency?  

The secret ingredient is ExpresDUO. 

Designed for M365 users, ExpresDUO lets your employees build custom-branded workspaces and integrate SharePoint sites into Teams for a tailor-made experience across all departments. 

The benefits of bringing SharePoint business workflows, data, and insights to Teams are many but include: 

  • Increased employee engagement  
  • Increased productivity   
  • More information sharing and fewer knowledge silos  
  • Projects and tasks can be assigned and tracked more readily 
  • Real-time communication from anywhere 

With less time spent toggling back and forth between workspaces trying to locate buried files and lost discussions, employees gain more time to collaborate which ultimately leads to increased profits for your company.  

SharePoint and Teams are a lot like spoons and forks. Each is useful on its own but when combined into a spork, you get the benefits of each with fewer utensils.  

Learn more about the spork, check out ExpresDUO here: 

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Bridging the Gap Between SharePoint and Teams

Bridging the Gap Between SharePoint and Teams

“I don’t remember where that file is.” 

“They said that all of the project details are in last week’s conversation. But which conversation?!” 

“There are dozens of SharePoint sites with the same names. This is crazy.” 

These are real quotes from real(-ly frustrated) employees that love collaboration but don’t love collaboration tools. Here’s why: When employees are forced to juggle multiple collaboration tools (incl. SharePoint and Teams), it becomes harder to keep track of exactly where important conversations and files live.  

This may not seem like a big issue at first, but put it in more context: When frustrated, these employees get less work done which, in turn, means less operational efficiency and less revenue for your company. Does it still seem like a small issue?  

One For All and All-In-One 

The solution is to consolidate several collaboration tools into one. The easiest way to do this is with ExpresDUO. 

With ExpresDUO, organizations bring essential Viva Connections and SharePoint sites, data, collaborative capabilities, and workflows directly to Teams. 

With just a few clicks, any organization can convert their SharePoint sites, data, and workflows into custom Teams apps. The robust customization and branding options result in a more immersive and productive Teams experience for all employees.  

ExpresDUO subscriptions are broken down into three tiers: 

Basic – FREE FOR ONE YEAR Users get to experience ExpresDUO’s deep SharePoint integration through one custom app in Teams. 

Standard – In addition to the deep SharePoint integration in Teams, ExpresDUO Standard gives users access to custom navigation, news, files, sites, and custom branding options. Standard also includes guided and expert mode app creation, an App Center to manage and reuse apps, plus the ability to build both SharePoint and Viva Connections apps. 

Pro – The right choice for organizations that want to easily create custom digital workplace environments. Customize once and reuse digital workplace templates for any department, project, or team. ExpresDUO Pro makes it possible for organizations to maximize their investment in SharePoint, Teams, and Microsoft 365 while building a custom intranet at a fraction of the cost.  

No coding – No hassle 

ExpresDUO cuts traditional app building costs by as much as 70%, saving businesses both time and resources. Businesses can expect increased productivity and seamless collaboration across their organization’s departments and workgroups. 

Asked why this is so important, Roland Icard, founder of Simply iCard, says, “Employees want to feel connected to where they work and that they have a seat at the table. Employees are more engaged and productive when they’re kept in the loop on company news and updates, rather than being isolated and siloed. ExpresDUO helps organizations bridge those gaps. More importantly, with the Pro Edition, organizations finally have a digital workplace solution that combines the power of SharePoint, Teams, and Viva Connections without breaking their budget. ” 

To learn more, check out 

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Sync and Swim – How a Unified Employee Engagement Platform Transformed This Busy Call Center

Sync and Swim – How a Unified Employee Engagement Platform Transformed This Busy Call Center

They say necessity is the mother of invention and that is true for us at Simply iCard. As a consulting and development company with a small remote team, communication errors can be costly. If our team’s not in sync, our projects will sink. It’s really that simple.  

We tried to find a solution that bridged the gaps of jumping back and forth between Viva Connections, SharePoint, and Teams. The reality was we simply couldn’t find one. So we built our own: ExpresDUO. 

ExpresDUO is a code-free app builder designed to extend the reach of Viva Connections beyond the intranet, allowing users to bring their business-critical SharePoint sites, data, and workflows to Teams. It does this by making it simple for companies to deploy their very own line of custom business apps and internal processes in Teams.  

Does It Work? Like a Charm 

While ExpresDUO was in development, a client came to us needing a modern intranet solution that would mitigate their call center setbacks. This particular client manages several brands under one umbrella. Its customer support staff was perpetually overwhelmed with a backlog of returns, questions, replacement requests, etc. The support staff simply couldn’t keep up with all of it. The result was lower customer satisfaction, bruised brand trust, and frustrated employees.  

Our solution was to build the client a unified employee engagement platform using ExpresDUO. This gave the support staff a simplified way to exchange best practices, share important files, and answer each other’s questions. The call center transformed from a group of frustrated individuals with siloed knowledge to a team empowered with a single source of truth.  

The speed at which customer requests were answered went from a backlog of three months to several days, and, ultimately, a few hours. Access to readily available resources resulted in better workload management and resource allocation. As a result, customer satisfaction jumped by over 30%. But the best part of all was that the previously frustrated support staff was now engaged in their work and collaboration was now part of their DNA.  

Tiers of Joy 

Users of ExpresDUO can choose from one of three subscription tiers: 



Experience ExpresDUO’s deep SharePoint integration through one custom app in Teams.  


In addition to the deep SharePoint integration in Teams, ExpresDUO Standard users get access to custom navigation, news, files, sites, and custom branding options. Includes guided and expert mode app creation, an App Center to manage and reuse apps, plus the ability to build both SharePoint and Viva Connections apps.  


The right choice for organizations that want to easily create custom digital workplace environments. Customize once and reuse digital workplace templates for any department, project, or team. ExpresDUO Pro helps organizations maximize their investment in SharePoint, Teams, and Microsoft 365 while building digital workplace sites at a fraction of the cost. 

Empowering Up 

What truly makes a company successful boils down to one thing: empowering individual employees. That’s why ExpresDUO was designed to empower all users, from department leads to support teams. By removing the need to code, ExpresDUO lets anyone build important workplace solutions and be truly involved in the organization. 

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New Year, New Accounting Resolutions

New Year, New Accounting Resolutions

January is the perfect time to assess your current accounting processes and tools and make a plan to become more efficient.

New year, clean slate — we accounting professionals are rolling up our sleeves and getting ready to kick off the new accounting period. This year, I’m sure, involves a lot more strategic planning than usual, knowing we need to be ready to monitor changes in business results and execute decisions quickly.

But we can’t forget it’s also a time for reflection, measuring how successful we were at executing last year, balancing our responsibilities, and acknowledging the huge effort our teams put forward.

The beginning of each year is the ideal time to assess the company’s accounting processes and workflows, define goals for improvement, and create plans for better internal performance. We need our accounting processes to flow smoothly, to balance required output with constraints, and we have just a few moments of peace to think about what the future will bring, fix our mistakes from the prior year, and set things on the proper track.   

Accounting professionals have always been responsible for recording, summarizing, analyzing, and reporting financial data, but we all know that, in reality, the role has become much more complicated. Tracking customers and receivables can take an entire department, involving multiple people, jobs, and workflows that support the larger process. Then there are vendors, accounts payable, cash management, financial analysis, forecasting and planning, inventory, revenue recognition, payroll, sales taxes — and as the business grows each year, these processes become increasingly complex.

Rarely do we take the time to sit down and plan improvements while we’re racing through the thick of it.

Past Processes

In many companies, established processes like accounts receivable and payable are showing their age. There’s a divide between current accounting department responsibilities and those the processes were built to handle in past years. Tasks like monitoring customer balances, tracking KPIs, sending balance reminders, and timing vendor payments were left without integrated solutions.

As a result, new employees were tacked onto the team to help plug gaps and deliver results. But this created Frankenstein-like branches and tangents on process maps — and wasted lots of time and money on duplication and manual effort. Rarely were processes modeled and planned for maximum efficiency.

In contrast, today’s lean accounting teams carefully choose solutions and regularly update processes to ensure optimal performance and add value to the company.

Today’s Tech: Smarter, Not Harder

Accounting professionals know there are better ways to handle archaic processes than simply throwing another warm body in the mix and hoping for the best. Critical assessments of processes that struggled in prior years is the starting point. Clearly defining desired performance and establishing goals is the next step. The gap between the two can then be identified and resolved. Better tools and accounting software, like NetSuite, can then take processes to the next level and deliver desired results, like speeding up slow approval processes, tracking KPIs, and monitoring customer balances accurately and in real time.

NetSuite cloud accounting software is built to help companies do more with less, delivering a complete accounting solution for a fully connected and automated platform that centralizes accounting data and operations and improves the speed and efficiency of accounting processes. Automation technology helps address the challenge of coordinating multiple accounting processes without human error, and NetSuite’s automated solutions connect accounting processes back to one database, ensuring better data quality and integrity.

NetSuite continuously delivers solutions to expand accounting capabilities and improve prior year processes. Simplified workflows, better financial visibility, and timely monitoring ensures you can operate more efficiently, meet deadlines calmly, and dedicate more time to meaningful tasks that support improved decision-making in the coming new year.

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Collaboration Governance: The Key to Maximizing Microsoft 365’s Potential

Collaboration Governance: The Key to Maximizing Microsoft 365’s Potential

With the ever-increasing demands for companies to find work-from-home solutions, there has been an explosion in cloud computing. Microsoft 365 takes the lead as an effortless one-stop solution for all the MS Office applications like Word and Excel, collaboration tools such as SharePoint, OneDrive, and Teams can be easily accessed by employees from anywhere.  

However, continued productivity and remote convenience come with operational risks and costs.  Microsoft 365 is a treasure trove of useful apps, a dream come true for both users and administrators.  But if it’s not properly managed, Microsoft 365 can quickly transform into an administrator’s nightmare.  Consequences include:   Cloud Sprawl – Haphazard and disorganized Teams and SharePoint sites tend to multiply if users, no matter how well-intentioned, are allowed to create them without oversight or direction.  User Frustration – Oftentimes, files can get buried under nested folders in document libraries result in users complaining that they can’t find their files.  Also, since there are several Teams apps that serve the same or similar functions, such as project management tools like Microsoft Project, GanttPro, or Project Central, users who add them to their Teams can get confused determining which is most appropriate for getting their jobs done.  External sharing – Without proper guidelines about sharing information externally (e.g. with clients, vendors, or consultants), users may inadvertently send confidential corporate information not realizing the inherent security risks.  Redundancy – A frequent issue that develops in unmanaged platforms is repetition. Copies of the same content can crop up in different sites or Teams, resulting in confusion regarding the real “source of truth.” Nonstandard Naming – Without established naming conventions, users are able to create and name Teams and SharePoint sites with odd or vague titles.   Inappropriate Content – Additionally, if your organization is not utilizing the extensive capabilities of the M365 Security and Compliance centers, you run the risk of allowing users to expose and share sensitive information like credit card numbers or Protected Health Information (PHI). 

Benefits of Collaboration Governance: Platform Health 

Effective teamwork entails people working together toward a common goal according to established rules.  This is also true of the tools used to get their work done.  Collaboration governance is how an organization manages its users’ access to resources, compliance with business standards, and security of data.  Through a pre-defined set of policies, roles, responsibilities, and processes that control how SharePoint, Teams, OneDrive, etc. are structured, managed, and used, your environment will be free of sprawl, clutter, and redundancy.  A well-defined and continually enforced set of policies such as naming conventions, role restrictions, content retention, customized site templates, and branding consistency, will ultimately result in time and cost savings as well as enhanced security.  A clean, intuitive, well-organized, and secure digital workplace environment is a refreshing and frictionless experience for users.  Not to mention it brings peace of mind to administrators. 

Out-of-the-Box Governance 

All M365 apps and services have dozens of out-of-the box controls and settings that provide administrators with the ability to ensure your environment is safe and secure.  These include prohibiting untrained users from creating Teams with meaningless titles or vague purposes or SharePoint sites that don’t conform to organizational standards.  Other features include limiting external access, and information protection which can prevent sharing confidential information such as credit card numbers.  Finally, you can set expiration dates for Teams and sites when they are no longer being used. 

Templates for Consistency 

Other out-of-the-box features include SharePoint and Teams templates that ensure a consistent look and feel throughout your organization. Site templates can be customized with pre-defined pages and corporate branding. Templated naming conventions for Teams can include channels and apps relevant to its purpose.  For instance, a project Team template could contain useful channels for project team leadership as well as apps such as Microsoft Planner. 


The ability to view the status of all your M365 environments at a single glance rather than accessing each admin center separately saves your administrators valuable time and effort.   Also, having the ability to run checks that expose risks such as OneDrive files shared with external users allows you to pinpoint potential security breaches.  Monitoring tools provide you an inventory of all sites, subsites, Teams, public and private channels, inactive users, site collections without owners, and much more. While reporting tools show which document libraries are approaching their maximum number of files, sites with external users, or which are Teams can be archived or deleted.   

Governance Automation 

Since governance is an ongoing endeavor requiring frequent reviews due to ever-changing situations such as employee turnover, technology updates, and new corporate initiatives, automation comes in handy.  Automation tools allow you to archive unused Teams, set public Teams to private, send mass emails to every Team and/or SharePoint site owner, or expose OneDrive accounts that contain files that are being externally shared. 

Advantages of automation include:

  • Minimization of cost and the risk of human error by simplifying manual administrative, time-consuming and repetitive tasks.  
  • Automated reviews decrease workload complexities by detecting orphaned, ownerless, inactive and irrelevant teams and sites.  
  • The ability to schedule and send regular notifications and alerts via email templates.  
  • The ability to classify and categorize content based on sensitivity and privacy by customizing security settings.  
  • The ability to perform mass updates across multiple workstreams such as adding or removing team and site members 


Whether your organization is in the midst of attempting to clean up a chaotic environment, or just starting to set up your new Microsoft 365 tenant, let Simply iCard assess your current situation and make customized, cost-effective recommendations. Our team of Microsoft Certified Professionals is ready to help you declutter your existing environment or architect a new, clean, and policy-driven one that will provide a frictionless experience for your users. Below are some examples of checks and reports that can be run to analyze M365  
Service  Check/Report  Description 
SharePoint  Unused sites  Shows sites that didn’t have activity for a defined period (default 90 days) 
SharePoint  SharePoint Site collections near storage limit  Shows SharePoint Site Collections using more than 90% of their available storage space 
SharePoint  Externally shared files  Shows files shared with external users 
SharePoint  SharePoint site collections with less than 2 site owners  Shows SharePoint site collections that have less than 2 site owners 
SharePoint  Unused SharePoint Site collections with more than 1 GB  Shows sites which have not been used in last 90 days and are larger than 1 GB 
SharePoint  SharePoint Site Collections without any owners  Shows SharePoint site collections that have no site owner 
Teams  Teams with many users  Shows Teams with a number of users that exceeds a threshold (default 50 users) 
Teams  Teams that use prohibited words in the name or description  Shows teams that use a list of prohibited words in the name or description 
Teams  Teams without owners  Shows Teams teams without any owners 
Teams  Teams with external users  Shows all Teams that have external users/guests 
OneDrive  OneDrives near storage limit  Shows OneDrives using more than 90% of their available storage space 
OneDrive  OneDrive with files belonging to disabled users accounts  Shows OneDrives files of disabled users accounts that still have data stored 
OneDrive  OneDrive Files shared with external users  Show OneDrive Files that have been shared with external users 
OneDrive  Large OneDrive Sites  Show OneDrive Site with more than 100GB data 

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Managed Modernization: The Thing Your Business Might Be Overlooking

Managed Modernization: The Thing Your Business Might Be Overlooking

Managed Modernization is a service that helps organizations to modernize their legacy systems and applications. This service includes the planning, execution, and management of the modernization process, and is designed to help organizations to transition smoothly and efficiently to more modern, flexible, and scalable systems and applications.

Some key features of Managed Modernization services may include:

Expert guidance: A team of experienced professionals will work with your organization to identify opportunities for modernization and develop a customized plan to modernize your legacy systems and applications.

Comprehensive planning: The Managed Modernization service will include a detailed planning phase to ensure that the modernization process is well-defined, well-organized, and aligned with your organization’s business goals and objectives.

Smooth execution: The Managed Modernization service will include the execution of the modernization plan, including the migration of data and processes to the new systems and applications.

Ongoing support: The Managed Modernization service will include ongoing support to ensure that the modernization process is successful and that the new systems and applications are meeting the needs of your organization.

Managed Modernization can help your organization to realize the benefits of modern, flexible, and scalable systems and applications, while minimizing the risk and disruption associated with the modernization process. By outsourcing the modernization process to a team of experienced professionals, you can focus on your core business while the modernization process is managed for you

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6 Steps to Automate Your Accounting Processes

6 Steps to Automate Your Accounting Processes

Manual accounting processes are notoriously time-consuming. By relying on spreadsheets to handle core finance operations like accounts payable, payroll and tax compliance, tasks that could be completed in seconds or minutes can take several hours or even days. What’s more, every step in the manual process is prone to human error, which can lead to additional costs, delays and frustration.

Enter accounting process automation (APA). By automating essential accounting operations with software, businesses can significantly speed up their processes while reducing the risk of human error considerably. This article explains the ins and outs of APA, including its benefits, which tasks to automate first and how cloud-based solutions bring new levels of speed, accuracy and security to accounting operations.

What Is Accounting Process Automation?

Accounting process automation involves the use of software solutions to automate finance and accounting tasks. Businesses have increasingly adopted APA to replace traditional accounting processes that rely on spreadsheets and manual handoffs between human stakeholders, both of which are less efficient and accurate.

Key Takeaways

  • Accounting process automation (APA) involves the use of software to automate accounting operations, especially time-consuming and tedious tasks that are prone to human error.
  • The benefits of APA include faster accounting processes, reduced operating costs, improved scalability and more robust data integrity and governance.
  • Accounting tasks that can be automated today include accounts payable and receivable, payroll, expense management and monthly financial close and procurement.

Accounting Process Automation Explained

Accounting process automation has many use cases. It can be used to enhance processes ranging from monthly reporting and the financial close to expenses and supplier invoicing and payment. It works by replacing manual record-keeping and information-sharing in spreadsheets with an automated approach that requires much less human intervention — and in many cases none at all.

Consider the case of accounts payable, a core finance operation that dictates how and when businesses pay their vendor bills. As a company grows, it has more payments to manage, which in turn makes its accounts payable processes more complex. Instead of reaching the point where that complexity leads to slow or missed payments and strained vendor relationships, the business can automate with APA, making the process more efficient and scalable.

It’s also worth distinguishing between accounting process automation and another popular automation technology, robotic process automation (RPA). RPA involves the use of software bots to complete simple and repetitive business processes, like invoice processing. APA goes even further, transforming accounting processes from end to end by replacing distinct manual tasks with an integrated digital workflow.

Benefits of Accounting Process Automation

Accounting process automation leads to the faster, smoother and more accurate completion of accounting tasks. This more efficient process, in turn, delivers a range of benefits to a business and its customers, all of which stand to improve a company’s bottom line. Here are some of the biggest advantages of APA.

  • Major time-savings.

    Time-savings is one of the primary drivers for process automation. Accounting tasks like bank reconciliation and quarterly reporting have traditionally required finance professionals to check and copy large volumes of data across multiple systems, which is a long and error-prone way of working. With APA, accounting data is automatically verified and moved between systems, saving finance teams from spending too many hours on tedious tasks.

  • Reduced operating costs.

    Automated accounting processes are faster and require less human intervention. That makes them more cost-efficient in virtually every way. Take the case of accounts receivable. According to the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC), the cost of invoicing a customer drops to as low as $2 for high-performing businesses, compared with $9 per invoice for the worst performers.

  • Better data quality and integrity.

    Manual data entry often leads to mistakes, which increase in frequency as the business and its accounting needs grow. This is another reason why automation can be an invaluable tool. With APA, finance teams can record, shift and update thousands of data points at once with minimal risk of that data being lost or compromised.

  • Improved data access.

    APA automates data entry and record-keeping on a centralized software platform. Instead of digging through spreadsheets or actual piles of paper to find a crucial document, accounting professionals simply need to enter the relevant search terms in their APA solution to find the files they’re looking for within seconds.

  • Streamlined document approvals.

    Similarly, documents like purchase orders and supplier contracts are automatically uploaded and made accessible to relevant stakeholders, eliminating bottlenecks from the approval process.

  • Healthier business relationships.

    Mishandled invoices and delayed payments can strain relationships between businesses and their customers and suppliers. APA speeds the entire procure-to-pay cycle to all parties’ satisfaction.

  • Ensures compliance and governance.

    APA software automatically prepopulates tax returns, creates financial statements and updates tax documents in line with regional regulatory requirements and rates. Not only does the software streamline processes, but it also ensures they are more accurate and compliant. Meanwhile, improved data visibility and integrity improve governance while easing the pressure on accounting teams that monitor compliance.

Drawbacks of Accounting Process Automation

As with any new technology, accounting process automation can present challenges, especially if it’s not implemented correctly. Here are three worth considering:

  • Upskilling employees.

    Working with new technology naturally requires accounting teams to learn how to correctly adopt APA software. Upskilling may require patience as every employee will have different levels of comfort with using technology and relying on computerized processes to handle accounting tasks they had previously completed manually.

  • Workflows needing updates.

    A well-defined automated workflow can work wonders, but a poorly adapted workflow, or one that has not been sufficiently tested, can lead to chaos and accounting errors on a large scale. Testing, iterating and perfecting APA workflows is the key to avoiding issues.

  • Change management.

    Resistance to change is a universal human trait, and accounting teams are not immune. They must be encouraged, supported and given the resources they need to learn how automation will make their jobs easier, so they can embrace APA and integrate the use of automation in their daily work.

7 Accounting Tasks Your Business Can Automate Now

Every business starts from a different position and adopts APA at its own pace. Some companies will choose to automate many processes at once while others will proceed more systematically, automating one task at a time in order of priority. Here are seven accounting tasks that every company can start to automate today.

  1. Accounts payable.

    Automating AP simplifies payment processes across the board. It helps accounting teams better track invoice due dates and ensures the on-time payment of vendor bills. What’s more, APA minimizes the risk of fraudulent invoices slipping by, flagging any the system deems suspicious or otherwise problematic.

  2. Accounts receivable.

    Automating AR helps companies manage their cash flow, improve invoice accuracy and reduce processing costs significantly. Opportunities to automate exist throughout the AR process, from scheduling invoices to be sent to the collection of past-due payments.

  3. Payroll.

    Manual payroll is a major time drain for companies with limited accounting resources, especially as they grow and the demands on their accounting teams increase. Automating payroll processes helps to ensure employees are paid on time and that an overworked team never misses filing any important payroll forms.

  4. Month-end financial closes.

    The month-end financial close process is an essential business task, but it also can be one of the most stressful for finance teams. Accountants are under growing pressure to complete their monthly closes more quickly, which inevitably leads to rushed processes and questions around the validity of end-of-month results. Automation of the monthly close alleviates many of these pressures around speed and data accuracy, helping accounting teams deliver faster results without sacrificing quality.

  5. Procurement.

    The procurement of goods and services from external suppliers has traditionally involved a great deal of paperwork, all of which must be reviewed and processed manually by multiple stakeholders. By automating procurement processes like purchase order management, companies can cut significant time and cost from their procurement process without sacrificing the integrity of their processes or affecting their supplier relationships.

  6. Expense reports.

    Expense reports are a necessary evil. At many companies, employees still need to print their expense reports as spreadsheets, staple receipts to forms manually and submit the whole package to accounting for approval. Automated expense reports allow employees to digitally fill out and share their expenses with accounting, reducing the administrative burden and paper pileup for all parties.

  7. Sales order process.

    A clear sales order process is the key to ensuring customer orders are completed and shipped on time at the right price. Automation software allows businesses to codify every step of their sales order processes, ensuring they consistently meet customer expectations.

    6 Steps to Automating Your Accounting Processes

    Automating accounting processes isn’t as simple as just buying APA software. It requires a methodical approach that starts with understanding the tasks that need to be automated, breaking them down step by step and adapting manual workflows to the way APA software works. It also involves testing to make sure the automated workflows perform as intended. Here are six steps businesses can take to automate their accounting processes.

    Step 1: Analyze current accounting processes.

    Many, but not all, accounting processes can be automated. The best candidates for automation are tasks that require employees to do frequent, repetitive work, involve few interpersonal connections and take little to no creativity. The aim of automation is to boost speed and efficiency to help accounting teams, not replace them altogether.

    Step 2: Evaluate existing technologies.

    APA is a software-based approach. The best automation approach for a business will depend on its existing accounting technologies and software applications, whether these systems already speak with each other or need to be integrated. In the latter case, cloud-based APA solutions are a popular option that unifies a company’s accounting and finance systems on a single platform where data is created, shared and processed in a common language.

    Step 3: Assign a project owner.

    Automated processes run on software alone, but it’s still important to have a human being oversee APA workflows to make sure everything runs smoothly and troubleshoot problems on the rare occasions they arise. For example, software runs off of rules set by users or the company admin, and those rules can cause inaccuracies in payroll, leading to late payments. A project owner can spot and address that issue before it affects employees, or at least mitigate the effects by fixing the problem quickly.

    Step 4: Create and document current workflows.

    The goal of APA is to simplify existing workflows and make them more efficient, and the best way to do that is to look for opportunities to streamline processes. By breaking down existing workflows at a granular level, businesses will then see where they can be improved and how to best re-create tasks with an APA solution.

    Step 5: Automate based on the updated workflow.

    Every workflow in a business can be broken down into three parts: a trigger, an action and an outcome. When automating workflows, it’s important to spell out these three parts at a granular level to ensure they deliver the intended results every time.

    Consider, for example, a simple workflow in the purchase order (PO) approval chain. A trigger might be the submission of a new PO from your procurement manager. That trigger would in turn set off an action, such as an automatic email to the relevant stakeholder in your business that the PO is ready for approval. The desired outcome is an approved PO.

    Step 6: Test and iterate.

    To make sure that an automated workflow delivers the intended results consistently, businesses can test and iterate. One test run might be enough, but it’s common to test and iterate a few times to iron out wrinkles, especially when adapting manual workflows for automation software.

    accounting process workflows
    How to go about automating an accounting workflow.

    Examples of Accounting Process Workflows

    An accounting workflow describes the sequences of tasks involved in a specific accounting process, be it expense management, invoicing or employee-onboarding. The workflow helps finance managers organize, standardize and track these processes, while assigning clear responsibilities for their teams.

    Consider the expense management workflow, which clearly outlines the path that an expense receipt takes from the instant an employee submits it to their expense management system to the moment they are reimbursed. Even this relatively simple accounting process workflow can be broken down into more than 10 steps:

    1. Employee gathers records.

      The employee collects the receipts, credit card statements, bills and any other documents that prove a purchase was made.

    2. Employee creates report.

      Expense reports are the primary documents an employee uses to make their expense claims. They are generally submitted monthly.

    3. Report routed for initial approval.

      Once submitted, an employee’s expense report is first validated by the person’s direct supervisor and company’s accounting team.

    4. Senior approvers prompted to review.

      Once validated, the report is sent to other internal stakeholders — often managers and team leaders — to ensure the entries are legitimate and reimbursable.

    5. Expense report approved.

      Senior stakeholders review the expense report, approve it or send it back to accounting for revision. In the latter case, the process goes back to the beginning.

    6. Expense report sent to accounts payable.

      Once approved, the expense report goes to the AP coordinator to be posted and scheduled for on-time payment.

    7. Verification of receipts.

      Receipts submitted with the expense report are verified and filed for tax and accounting purposes.

    8. General ledger or tax codes added.

      An accounting employee enters the correct ledger and/or tax code for each line item on the expense report.

    9. Expense report posted.

      With all the necessary information now included, expense items are added to the business’ accounting or ERP system, reviewed and approved, and then posted to the general ledger so that the employee can be paid.

    10. Expense reimbursement authorized.

      The employee’s expense reimbursement is authorized and a payment date is set based on the company’s expense management schedule.

    11. Employee reimbursed.

      The employee receives their reimbursement payment.

    Every accounting process has many moving parts, and they become more complex as a business grows. Accounting teams stand to save significant time and energy by simplifying recurring steps throughout their process workflow, be it expense management, client-on-boarding, billing and invoicing or countless others.

    A Short History of Accounting Automation

    The history of accounting automation can be traced back to the 19th century, when inventor Herman Hollerith developed the world’s first punch-card machine to help streamline the United States Census. Hollerith would go on to become the founder of the company that led to the creation of IBM, where his punch-card invention was used for accounting.

    The next big development in accounting machines came after World War II with the 1951 invention of the UNIVAC, the first commercial computer in the U.S. Developed by physicist John Mauchly and electrical engineer J. Presper Eckert, the Universal Automatic Computer saw data storage move from punch-cards to magnetic tape. This approach was first embraced by businesses in 1955, when General Electric bought a UNIVAC to handle its accounting operations.

    Automation as we know it today first began to take form during the computer age. Since the late 1970s, programmers have been building increasingly powerful software to take on accounting tasks, from VisiCalc, the first-ever spreadsheet software, to Peachtree, the first accounting software for PCs. Adoption was swift, and within a few years millions of companies were running some form of accounting software.

    Today, accounting automation has transcended physical offices and manual data management. Since NetSuite released the first web-based accounting software in 1998, finance teams have been able to access, manage and manipulate accounting data via an internet connection. Cloud-based accounting software continues to improve, speeding up accounting processes and fueling efficiencies across industries.

    accounting process timeline
    Accounting automation timeline.

    Automation and the Future of Accounting

    The adoption of automated accounting processes will only accelerate, but not at the expense of human thought and oversight. Automation is not intended to replace accountants; rather, its role is to take repetitive work off their plates so they can apply their valuable time and brainpower to strategic business imperatives.

    Businesses that use cloud-based software will see these time-saving benefits compound with every new accounting task they automate. For instance, when their invoicing, spend management and general accounting platforms are integrated and automatically share data, finance teams will spend less time copying data points from one system to the other and will instead have a single, accurate view of all their accounting data in a single location.

    Get the Benefits of Automation With NetSuite

    Automation dramatically speeds up a range of accounting processes, reducing both overhead and the risk of human error. But cost and efficiency gains are only part of the story. Improved data management and visibility also help with increasingly important mandates, like regulatory compliance.

    NetSuite’s Cloud Accounting Software delivers a complete accounting solution for companies ready to move from spreadsheets or entry-level software to a fully integrated and automated platform that centralizes their data and makes it accessible to stakeholders across the business. In turn, accounting teams spend less time on manual data entry and repetitive tasks, and instead use their more complete view of accounting data to make faster and better-informed decisions to support their businesses.

    APA helps accounting teams unlock their full potential by increasing efficiency and optimizing the many essential tasks they manage, saving them time and improving the accuracy of results. For years, manual accounting processes were labor-intensive, costing businesses extra time and money. With APA, businesses of all sizes are increasingly overcoming that hurdle.

    Accounting Process Automation FAQs

    What is robotic process automation in accounting?

    Robotic process automation (RPA) involves the use of software bots to replace manual and repetitive accounting tasks at scale. It is generally used to handle low-skill work, rather than replacing the complex thinking required to handle strategic accounting tasks, like planning and budgeting.

    How is AI used in accounting?

    Artificial intelligence (AI) has many uses in accounting. Whether it’s understanding digital files through natural language processing (NLP), extracting data from photos with computer vision algorithms or automatically populating forms to speed up accounting workflows, new use cases for AI in accounting are regularly emerging.

    Can RPA read invoices?

    When combined with artificial intelligence, RPA can scan, understand and digitize key data points from an invoice for further processing.

    What is an automated accounting process?

    An automated accounting process is handled by software, replacing the need for staff members to manually complete repetitive tasks, such as data entry, number crunching and transaction tracking.

    How do you automate accounting tasks?

    To automate an accounting task, businesses first need to break the task down into a step-by-step workflow. From there, they can build an automated workflow that will deliver the same results with little human intervention.

    Is there a way to automate accounting?

    Accounting teams can automate many elements of their accounting, from invoice processing and payroll to the monthly financial close. That said, automation technology will never replace accounting staff entirely, as human brainpower and experience will always be required to troubleshoot, handle complex accounting tasks and align them with business strategy.

    What types of accounting tasks will be automated?

    Numerous accounting tasks can be automated. Some of the most popular tasks that benefit from automation include accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, expense management and the monthly financial close, among others.

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Must-Have Features and Capabilities for a Cloud Accounting Solution

Must-Have Features and Capabilities for a Cloud Accounting Solution

Companies just starting out tend to have limited revenue, a handful of employees, and few expenses, so they can often get by with spreadsheets and an entry-level accounting package. Over time, however, as new products and services are launched, additional sales channels are opened, and sales increase, keeping track of revenue, expenses, liabilities, and assets — not to mention owner equity — becomes more challenging.

Hiring more people in accounting helps for a while, but eventually, those rudimentary systems and processes begin to inhibit growth because they don’t provide the insights, flexibility, or efficiency companies need to remain competitive.

Continuing to rely on a system that doesn’t meet the needs of your business is a no-win proposition. Ultimately, if you’re forced to use spreadsheets for accounting tasks your current software can’t handle, you’ll struggle to provide the detailed reports your colleagues really want. If your staff spends much of their time on data entry, or the system doesn’t support your governance, risk, and compliance objectives, it’s time to look for a new solution.

While evaluating financial management software might not be at the top of your bucket list, finding a system that fits your business will give you more control over your finances. A cloud-accounting solution will not only provide you access to the features you’re looking for, it will reduce IT overhead and increase flexibility by allowing team members the ability to work from anywhere, at any time.

Cloud Accounting Essentials

What you should look for in a cloud accounting solution depends to some extent on your business model. A service provider, for instance, will need robust revenue recognition capabilities that an ecommerce retailer probably won’t. That said, however, the core requirements are the same for most companies.

A rock-solid general ledger. The general ledger (GL) is your company’s financial backbone. It should map to the structure of your business so it’s easy to track where cash comes from and where it goes. The traditional way of doing this, using complex account codes, is cumbersome, limits what can be tracked, and becomes harder to manage as companies grow.    

When evaluating cloud accounting software, look for a solution with a dynamic general ledger that allows you to use dimensional values rather than complicated account codes to categorize transactions. Dimensions are like tags or labels that can be added to transactions for enhanced reporting. Think organizational details (department, location, division), details related to revenue (product, channel, customer) or other characteristics that may be useful for performance tracking.

Automated core processes. Manual process are a drag on productivity, yet many accounting packages still have limited automation capability. As a result, accounting personnel often spend several hours a day performing mundane, repetitive tasks like data entry instead of using their skills and intellect to solve problems. This is a poor use of resources that results in errors, stress and employee turnover.

Look for a cloud accounting solution that automates major steps in the record-to-report process, including tasks like invoicing customers and processing payments; entering, approving, and paying vendor bills; recording depreciation, accruals, and other recurring transactions; allocating and recognizing revenue; and reconciling bank accounts. It should also incorporate technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning to help accounting personnel identify and address anomalies.

Data Visibility and Reporting.

The accounting system should be the central repository of your organization’s financial data. If important accounting processes are being managed with spreadsheets, then at least some of that data is sitting outside of the accounting system. And because spreadsheets are static, the information they contain quickly becomes out of date, which makes it hard to get a complete, real-time view of what’s happening in the business. Cloud-accounting software avoids this by providing a single source of real-time financial data. So instead of struggling to pull information from multiple sources, you always have an up-to-date view of your current financial position.  

Having that single source of real-time data is valuable, but you also need the ability to share information with key stakeholders, including department heads, the board of directors and shareholders. 

Basic packages typically provide preformatted templates that can be used to produce financial statements and other standard reports. This saves time by eliminating the need to create reports from scratch. A format that works for one company, however, doesn’t necessarily meet the needs of others. Unfortunately, these templates are often hard-coded, making it difficult to modify the layout or decide which data elements to include on a report. This can prevent you from communicating information in a way the makes sense for different stakeholders.

To take full advantage of business data, your cloud accounting solution should include robust analytics. In addition to providing configurable standard reports, it should also include tools for producing custom reports, tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), and creating dashboards. While many software providers offer these tools, not all systems are created equal.

Look for a system with robust reporting capabilities that are also user friendly.

Effective controls. Internal controls are the policies and rules organizations use to protect themselves from financial fraud, serious errors, and intentional abuse of benefits, resources, or authority. Effective controls ensure compliance with government regulations and accounting standards. They also help ensure effective decision-making regarding investment of capital or allocation of company resources.

A cloud accounting solution must have embedded governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) features that enable you to comply with tax laws, accounting rules, and federal, state and local regulations everywhere your business operates. It must also meet privacy and data protection requirements as well. Finally, it should include review and approval workflows to ensure proper management oversight of expenditures and reduce the risk of fraud.

NetSuite Cloud Accounting Software

NetSuite cloud accounting software transforms the general ledger, giving you the ability to record transactions with multiple dimensions while helping reduce errors by simplifying your chart of accounts.

NetSuite also increases the efficiency and productivity of accounting staff by automating accounts payable, invoicing, bank reconciliation, revenue management, and other core processes. Powerful analytics capabilities give you the tools to produce more meaningful reports, track KPIs in real time, and glean new insights that lead to better decisions and improved performance.

Finally, NetSuite’s built-in governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) features provide essential controls to reduce fraud and adapt to increasingly complex regulations and accounting standards.


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