Accounting Automation: How-To Guide for Streamlining Financial Processes

Igor Paniuk
Volodymyr Horovyi
Alina Ampilogova

The chain of global socio-economic events of the past years didn't bypass the accounting sector. Around 73% of accountants report increased workload due to the emergence of new regulations, while 83% of accounting experts admit dealing with new demands brought by economic volatility. 

Such statistics indicate that accountants are approaching the limit of their capabilities, with their talent constrained by an outdated framework. For that reason, the field is actively exploring accounting automation, aiming to reduce manual load and boost agility to keep up with evolving requirements.
However, minimizing manual entries merely scratches the surface of how automation can transform the accounting process. To provide a 360° view of automation in accounting industry, we’re going to explore its benefits, challenges, and tips on accounting workflow automation in this detailed guide.

How accounting automation can help businesses

The role of accounting is transitioning from a static, transactional service to a dynamic and proactive enterprise enabler. Such a change is remarkable as it demonstrates how automation in finance and accounting goes beyond task optimization, gleaning exclusive transformative advantages. To fully reveal the value of this shift, it makes sense to start with analyzing the way automation impacts key accounting focus areas.

  • Audit and assurance
    Auditors have to address a number of concerns. Starting from increased focus on ESG and ending with growing M&A activity, there is a clear need for expanding the scope of work. However, with 73% of firms admitting talent retention to be their most sensitive pain point, optimizing audit execution requires more than just a couple of improvements. It calls for a new mindset and strategy that is infused with disruptive technology. For that reason, around 87% of auditors consider innovation and digital transformation an essential part of their professional growth. 

  • Budgeting and planning
    Enterprise leaders need to create a detailed budget vision for their business and ensure the organization's full synergy with the journey ahead. To do this, they require large volumes of historical data and information concerning expenses, sales, and other activities. Otherwise, businesses risk spending more time mitigating sudden obstacles instead of focusing on planning their operations.

    Accounting automation accelerates profit and loss calculation and provides accurate KPI monitoring, helping professionals swiftly identify potential bottlenecks and map out the current and future financial health of an enterprise.

  • Transaction management
    Since enterprise accounting encompasses a vast array of operations across all organizational levels, it provides a valuable source of information about the decision-making outcomes through keeping track of money. As a rule, the efficiency of transaction management is defined by how fast it can process large amounts of real-time data and prevent potential deadlocks. Also, flawless transaction processing requires a resilient database that enables a consistent flow of data, capable of a quick recovery in case of a crash. Building such an environment becomes possible within a technologically-powered platform with accounting workflow automation.

  • Financial reporting 
    Financial reporting holds immense enterprise value as it provides a detailed image of  underlying patterns, deciphering the ones that open the door to new, more productive approaches. However, these outcomes only become available when there are no constraints holding insights back and distorting end results. The complexity of managing multiple currencies, tight timeframes, and fragmented IT systems form metaphorical cracks through which essential data slips through. To prevent this, accountants need a consolidated framework and innovative data standardization flows, prompting firms to invest in accounting automation.

  • Tax compliance
    Enterprise accountants deal with the vexing task of ensuring their organization operates within the law by executing proper accounting procedures, monitoring regulations, and handling VAT, pension funds, sales, and income taxes. Given that failing to comply with requirements or tax submission deadlines can lead to heavy penalties and sufficiently impair the organization's growth plans, the quality of accounting services defines the business's ability to operate and expand.

    While navigating evolving compliance requirements, accountants find themselves on the verge of contributing to a new system that encourages voluntary compliance within a more cooperative environment. Robotic process automation in finance and accounting plays a significant role in enabling such a system as it injects transparency and accuracy into accounting, helping professionals meet deadlines and stay updated with most recent changes.

  • Risk management 
    Before leaders and stakeholders decide to make a change, they perform a risk analysis to see whether the outcome will be worth the effort. Using data provided by enterprise accounting enables them to go beyond estimating whether their decision will hurt the organization. It will also let them assess the potential value of the modification, comparing "before" and "after" and monitoring the change from ideation to implementation.

    With accounting automation taking care of early issue detection and irregularity monitoring, accountants become more confident in their risk assessment, which leads to their smooth transition to much-needed flexibility.
Stay up-to-date with the evolving accounting requirements using the best of technology and strategic insights

Accounting automation amplifies the results and outcomes generated within each of these key roles while streamlining delivery time and enabling accountants to focus on the most important part of their work—data. 

With the help of innovation, accountants can evolve from merely handling paperwork and running numbers to becoming strategic enterprise advisors, translating valuable data into comprehensive, productivity-increasing reports. By handing monotonous and routine flows to technology, experts can focus on monitoring financial health and creating a more detailed and realistic picture of the organization, identifying and addressing emerging issues.

Accounting automation benefits that change the accountant's role

To further elaborate on how automation enables the transformation of accountants, it’s important to look at the benefits it injects into accounting routines and processes.

Greater time/knowledge ratio

In brief, the benefits of automation in accounting can be outlined by two core aspects: time and knowledge

Time matters immeasurably in accounting practices. However, since such routines are laden with monotonous activities, accountants often work more on low-value tasks than extracting value from insights. Such hurdles are often a result of the paper clutter that is still prevalent in numerous accounting focus areas — too much data needs to be entered and processed manually, and too many paper piles separate experts from making a difference that counts. 

Robotic process automation in accounting improves time management and enables more agile and efficient accounting teams that let technology handle mundane processes while they focus on more complex and rewarding tasks. At the same time, such an innovation allows accountants to deliver more results faster, which helps to optimize work balance and create a healthier operating environment.

Repetitiveness and paperwork often stand between accountants and impactful insights that are needed right here, right now. For instance, it's not uncommon for large enterprises to submit a request for a legal risk report to evaluate a particular business opportunity. However, within a non-digitized routine the completion of the request may take more than a month. By the time the report is finalized and put in front of the stakeholders, more than half of its insights are no longer valid. As a result, the enterprise still doesn't have the data necessary to make an informed decision and properly assess all risks. 

Accounting workflow automation helps to free knowledge from the tedious constraints of manually managed tasks and to aggregate them into comprehensive and easy-to-read reports that are instantly delivered to the decision-makers. In addition, the capabilities of intelligent automation and AI-powered tools allow accountants to dive deeper into the intricacies of business relationships, payments, and interconnections, deciphering even more steps into actionable data. 

Another vital yet complex task accountants need assistance with is keeping up with compliance. Staying aware of crucial details and inconsistencies as well as meeting deadlines is vital yet complicated due to the abundance of data, regulations, and rapidly updated requirements. Therefore, accountants make use of any benefit technology can offer. 

Accounting automation helps with compliance. It prevents potential risks by identifying inconsistencies and facilitating deadline management. Also, automation normalizes payment and transaction schedules, making them more predictive.
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Improved workflow management

Accounting automation provides greater control across all relevant workflows. Such activities as finance reporting and cash flow monitoring demand extreme focus and accuracy from accountants, which becomes possible when other, less relevant flows are covered. In addition, with hybrid work models firmly planting themselves among enterprises, nearly 63% of accounting professionals are looking for employers who support hybrid work environments

By leveraging automation in accounting, enterprises can remove productivity barriers for their accounting teams while providing them with agile, accessible, and intuitive working environments.

Consolidated task management
  • Creating a single hub for accountants instead of scattering tasks across various platforms. 
  • Providing managers with full oversight without checking up with each employee separately
  • Enabling each employee to have full visibility of their most relevant tasks
  • Real-time activity monitoring and status editing
Global accessibility
  • Replacing rigid office-based workflows with hybrid ecosystems
  • Securing uninterrupted enterprise  functionality regardless of the work model
  • Greater department collaboration opportunities and improved process standardization.
Need-relevant job assignment
  • Real-time tracking of client needs 
  • Allocating high-priority tasks based on customer inquiry
  • Instant task change depending on the current main enterprise objective
Fiscal responsibility monitoring
  • Real-time budget monitoring
  • Instant transaction tracking
  • Introducing a single format across all systems
When you consider accounting workflow automation, you should remember that the change must benefit you and your employees. It’s important to look at the processes from their perspective, understand what they need, and what obstructs their progress. Your teams want to use innovation to improve their results—you only need to help them.

Next-level accounting practices

One of the most recognizable benefits of accounting automation is increased precision. Specifically, automation in accounting minimizes the risk of human error by taking over time-consuming, monotonous tasks. However, this advantage is merely a fraction of value brought about by accounting workflow automation.

Aside from simply optimizing repetitive processes and liberating working hours, accounting automation helps to advance the state of enterprise accountancy to the next level of quality and accuracy. As the technology helps accountants tap into vast amounts of data, it also allows them to build new pathways and methods of delivering that data to the right stakeholders at the right moment, with the right storytelling. 

In accounting, automation becomes a robust foundation for a powerful data governance framework, helping enterprises easily process large volumes of information, extract business-defining insights, and even manage change with improved analysis and forecasting. 

Faster decision-making
  • Instant insights delivery and sharing
  • Saturating business decisions with relevant data
  • Automating data gathering and analysis from all available sources
Job standardization
  • Fast access to data points without using multiple accounting apps
  • Streamlined financial statement analysis 
  • Flawless closing balances transfer and tax return lodging
Instant updates
  • Immediate critical event and due-by notifications
  • Smart compliance breach and client activity alerts
  • Better business organization options with customization
Greater consistency
  • Aggregating all client data with the help of data warehousing
  • Enabling greater consistency by preparing connected accounts in a single solution
  • Delivering more informative and value-rich reports that provide a better perspective on business opportunities
Improved business advisory
  • Consolidating client information within one system for easier review and analysis
  • Facilitated bookkeeping that delivers more valuable financial information
  • Extracting strategic information on enterprise financial health from available data

Implementing such a change raises a new bar for enterprise accounting: there are new expectations for data delivery speed, compliance monitoring efficiency, and strategic input. However, introducing new technology makes it possible for accountants to meet and exceed such expectations.

As a preferred strategic tech partner of a Big Four leader, we have vast experience in helping accounting firms adopt a proactive approach in accelerating ideas and re-imagining their on-premise solutions on a global scale. 

By enabling continuous exploration of innovation, we assisted with launching a number of organization-wide initiatives—from establishing an automation center of excellence and liberating up to 5M working hours to leveraging Generative AI for complex business relationship analysis. 

The end goal is to help our clients go beyond improving their internal processes; after each engagement, they discover new service opportunities that allow for deeper market penetration and stronger competitive position.
Setting a new bar for global enterprise accounting within a revolutionary tool transformation

Client management automation

Similarly to any enterprise focus area, engagement matters greatly in accounting. For instance, client relationship management plays an important role in business decision-making, while accountants possess crucial insights to define each relationship's profitability, risks, and prospects. 

Accounting automation enables enterprises to direct these insights properly, helping accountants connect relevant experts with important information and meet deadlines. In addition, accounting workflow automation allows for the personalization of every customer interaction, generating more trust and impact within every conversation.

Facilitated client communication
  • Automating personalized customer messaging
  • Configuring job deadline notifications for better synergy
  • Easier client information management 
Improved workflow efficiency
  • Removing manual updates and data entries from the accountant's workflow
  • Improved cross-department collaboration with automated task completion notification
  • Transparent and up-to-date task progress monitoring
Automated paperwork management
  • Automated engagement letter generation and invoicing
  • Automated expenses report compilation
  • Automated entry of expenses into the accounting system
Better security
  • Leveraging encryption technology to protect client records
  • Preventing financial losses due to data leaks and security breaches
  • Protecting ledgers from being accessed by unauthorized users
Such improvements provide a great example of how automation expands and enriches the accountant’s role. There is a persistent and wrong assumption that the end goal of automation is replacing employees. Yet, I can't see it happening any time soon. Not all relevant enterprise processes can be fully automated, far from it. Moreover, full automation would actually be harmful. Automation aims to find and address process hiccups, so employees could do their job without exhausting their mental resources on tasks that aren't worth it.
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Accounting workflow automation: to automate or not to automate?

Much like any technology, automation comes with its benefits, truths, and assumptions. Decision-makers need to be particularly aware of the latter to avoid unrealistic expectations and unsatisfying results. For instance, it's important to remember that robotic process automation in finance and accounting doesn't necessitate automating every process in the department. The automation accounting process is generally very individual and always based on the enterprise's specific priorities and needs. 

Therefore, decision-makers need to approach their accounting routines from a baseline understanding of what processes can potentially be automated and what tasks will never benefit from automation. 

Accounting and automation: best fit

The key principle of robotic process automation in finance and accounting is making processes easily replicable. Additionally, they should be easy to optimize. If the process has multiple steps that can be removed by reducing manual load without sacrificing the outcome, then it's eligible for automation. 

Given this context, the following accounting processes can greatly benefit from automation:


Automation in accounting can help secure the accuracy and consistency of records by accelerating transaction comparison across different accounts. Also, automated reconciliation is able to immediately identify discrepancies and timely notify professionals, reducing the risk of mismanagement and costly errors.

Payroll processing

Paying employees on time is a major responsibility and one of the key factors that define an employer's reputation. However, accountants who usually handle this task face numerous taxing steps. They have to precisely calculate wages and benefits, meet all tax deadlines, and keep up with updated laws. Making an error can cost an enterprise time, money, and relationship with its employees. 

Due to such intense pressure and abundant continuous and repetitive tasks, automated accounting systems provide life-saving functionalities that take over the calculations and compliance with laws, preventing accidents and ensuring immaculate accuracy.

Transaction recording

Intelligent automation in accounting helps immensely with any activity that involves pattern recognition, data organization, and capture. As a result, transactional data processing makes a great fit for accounting automation as it involves working with copious amounts of data. Given the 33% decline in new accounting professionals, utilizing the potential of technology to enable clear and consistent transaction recording will be the most viable and effective option for enterprises. 

Expense management

Monitoring expenses and reimbursements are often a challenge for large enterprises because of the sheer number of employees and issues such as data disconnect, use of various poorly integrated platforms, and lack of visibility. 

Automation in accounting  bypasses these difficulties by introducing an easy-to-use system that lets employees upload their expense data that will then be automatically categorized and compiled into reports, letting accountants easily keep track of receipts, manage reimbursable expenses, and provide leaders with detailed insights.

Accounting and automation: least fit

Regarding accounting processes that can’t be automated, the least fitting candidates are defined by the following qualities:

  • Complex
    Robotic process automation accounting is rule-based. Therefore, any process that can be broken down into a system of rules makes a great fit. Meanwhile, multi-step processes where every activity matters would take too much time and resources to automate and fail to drive value. 

  • Infrequent The potential of automation in accounting is realized when enterprises take on the repetitiveness and monotony. If employees have to perform the same routine over and over, then there is a point in switching to autopilot. However, if an activity is done only several times a year and there is no knowledge to be preserved, automating it would be a budget waste.

  • Requires human insight
    Even if intelligent automation in accounting is additionally powered by AI, it still lacks critical thinking and a flexible perspective. AI algorithms use information, tools, and sources they were provided. When they lack data or encounter a problem they weren't trained to solve, they struggle and start providing vague or wrong solutions. For that reason, any tasks that require deep professional insight and human judgment can never be delegated to robotic process automation in finance and accounting.

When considering types of accounting tasks that don't make a good match for workflow automation, it's possible to outline several examples.

Providing analytical context

While automation in accounting provides great value for analytics, it can't communicate all the nuances and interpret numbers. Its goal is to organize data and provide it to accountants, who can then read it and communicate it to stakeholders, considering in-depth context and outlining impact. The responsibility of constructing a compelling financial narrative based on accurate insights lies not on the technology, but the professionals who use it for enriching the quality of their work.  


Despite financial institutions actively using intelligent assistants to manage customer queries and improve cross-departmental collaboration, such technology can't make up for the communication skills needed for successful negotiation and communication. Empathy and understanding of underlying needs play a defining role in the outcome when there is a need to interact with customers. Similarly, discussing decisions with stakeholders requires tact and skills to translate complex niche information into an understandable format, communicating value and providing appeal. In such cases, emotional intelligence is unarguably superior to artificial intelligence.

Audit reviews

Accounting automation enables immediate notification of new regulations and legal standards. It also saves time on data organization and analysis. However, it’s important to remember that such features are auxiliary compared to the work done by professionals. Even when powered by innovative technology, audits still require professional oversight and assessment from trained human auditors.

Handling rare financial events

Automated systems can detect and identify irregularities. However, in most cases, they can't address them. Instead, they notify accountants so they can investigate the event and manage it using their unique experience as well as collaboration with other departments. In other words, automation in accounting helps to monitor process stability, but it can't tackle instability on its own.

Strategic planning

Although automation in accounting is lauded for providing strategic insights, it's not the technology that detects opportunities and outlines goals. It's the professional teams who take a look at the data and gauge predictions, extract value, and make decisions. A bountiful enterprise strategy isn't complete without the flexibility and creativity of human thinking and the diversity of perspectives.

Why is it important to identify the right fit for automation? Payback. Accounting workflow automation is a considerable investment, and you want a guaranteed return. So, you want to know what kind of value technology can deliver and what kind of outcome can only be delivered by your employees.
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Automation of accounting process: enabling transformation in 7 steps

Planning and executing accounting automation requires a calculated and strategic approach. If an enterprise is making its first steps towards accounting workflow automation, it's quite likely it doesn't have a 360° view of the process. 

Therefore, decision-makers may experience difficulties with outlining their field of responsibility and realizing their key to-do points. 

Before exploring these points, it makes sense to mention Step 0 which defines the beginning and the rest of any automation strategy—finding the right professional team. The main challenge to properly integrating automation across relevant accounting workflows lies in combining enterprise insights with fitting tech expertise and tools. So, decision-makers should consult with professional technology partners with the experience and the expertise to realize innovation visions. 

Such a collaboration allows for mapping up a detailed and meaningful transformation journey while flawlessly adopting the technology across relevant enterprise departments and mitigating unforeseen pitfalls.

1) Discovering process bottlenecks

The impact of accounting automation depends on the depth of the discovery phase, where decision-makers and stakeholders examine their current workflows. The purpose of this step is to dissect the most glaring pain points and inefficiencies, as well as identify hidden bottlenecks that hold accounting operations back. 

The latter is achieved by using process mining tools that break enterprise processes down, identify all involved parties, scenarios, and deviations, and provide the full picture of how the process is handled across the organization.

2) Outlining automation objectives

After process dissection, decision-makers are recommended to re-evaluate and reaffirm their automation objectives. The more specific they are regarding their end goals, the easier it is to identify the best candidate and establish the most rewarding time/investment/result ratio.

An ideal candidate for automation is relatively cost-effective and time-saving while delivering the most impactful results. Finding such a fit isn't easy, so make sure to communicate with stakeholders, consider their perspectives, and compile a list of potential candidates.

3) Integration planning

A smooth synergy between automated systems and other enterprise platforms should be secured in advance. This process is usually handled by a professional automation team that provides integration suggestions. For instance, it's possible to integrate or design a single platform to replace several different tools. 

 4) Team onboarding

One of the most common accounting automation challenges is organizational resistance. Frequently, it stems not from the aversion to technology or improvement but from miscommunication and lack of clarity. When teams don't understand the value of the innovation or misinterpret the employer's intention, the ensuing friction leads to low productivity. 

Therefore, employers and stakeholders need to be proactive in making innovation familiar and natural to their teams, providing them with necessary training and technology onboarding. Doing so requires a change of mindset and the way employers perceive their accounting teams.

As accounting goes from static to dynamic, stakeholders and leaders need to start seeing their accounting experts as their advisors and potential assistants. Paying attention to the potential employees' experience with technology becomes as essential as their expertise in financial health monitoring and compliance regulation. However, sometimes, the right professionals aren't hired instantly but nurtured through comprehensive onboarding and training.

5) Monitoring

Once the accounting automation journey passes the deployment stage, decision-makers need to pay close attention to the performance of transformed processes. Tracking cost savings, error rates, employee satisfaction, and other key metrics is a reliable way to evaluate the end result and efficiency of the transformation.

Additionally, process mining tools can provide a good, in-depth look into the change. Depending on your tool of choice, you can compare “before” and “after” or simply check your automated processes for deviations, assessing their productivity in different scenarios.

6) Scaling

A good automation strategy is always future-proof, because process automation is a consistent improvement that requires modification according to emerging business needs. Therefore, after documenting the positive impact of accounting workflow automation, decision-makers proceed with identifying new candidates or expanding automated systems.

7) Updating knowledge

Technology needs consistent improvement—and so does technology acumen. In the context of accelerated industry evolution and emerging trends, decision-makers need to be confident in their practices and tools. Therefore, they should regularly refresh their awareness of enterprise technology trends, approaches to automation, and general industry trajectory. 

Diving into insights pools such as webinars, industry-relevant events, and tech community meetups allows business leaders to stay connected to the constantly shifting landscape and provides new networking opportunities. 

If you work with a strategic tech advisor, you're one consultation away from receiving the updates you need. Companies that pioneer innovation stay ahead of the trends and patterns, educating themselves on new technologies and expanding their talent pools. Depending on your communication preference, you can receive their reports or materials on the latest disruption—or reach out to them for a more personalized conversation and opportunity identification.

If you are currently planning a transformation for your accounting processes, let’s chat!

With 13 years of experience pioneering accounting workflow automation, we’ve empowered industry leaders and Big Four clients to raise a new bar for accounting quality standards and bring competitive service offerings to the market. Starting with a detailed consultation, we will assist you with rethinking your key accounting operations and leveraging the power of automation to turn them into potent sources of strategic insights. 

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