BlackLine APAC vice president and general manager Todd Hunt said companies are constantly expected to do more with less, including accounting firms.
“They are now required to not only deliver periodic financial data and reports, but also real-time analysis and intelligence,” Mr Hunt said.
“Leveraging technology not only improves the efficiency that accountants need to deliver insightful intelligence, but it creates real-time access to financial data so that reporting and analysis can be done continuously.”
Mr Hunt said finance and accounting work is shifting from traditional, rigid and manual processes, to more automated, flexible and agile operations.
“This shift is essential because it provides the productivity benefits that free organisations to deepen their focus on analysing and reporting financial performance,” he said.
This is what Mr Hunt calls "continuous accounting".
“This new approach distributes the workload evenly over the accounting period, allowing accountants to process data and transactions as they come in,” he said.
“It embeds automation, control and period-end tasks within daily activities that align the accounting schedule with the rest of business. It shortens the close, smooths out end-of-period spikes and produces real-time reporting, analysis and awareness.”
They key benefit, according to Mr Hunt, is that accountants can schedule, on a daily basis, the demanding workload that piles up at the end of each month, quarter and year.
“Accountants can now attend to the tasks at virtually the speed at which the business transactions occur,” he said.
“The financial close process becomes a daily task-by-task operation, reducing accountant's stress, the risk of administrative and reporting errors, and the possibility of a material weakness.”
The benefits are also felt by clients according to Mr Hunt.
“Continuous accounting also offers a way for companies to more quickly understand how the business is performing – a boon to the financial planning and analysis staff and internal auditors,” he said.
“The process further provides the raw material through predictive data analytics that a CFO can use to evaluate the efficiency of the accounting and finance organization.”