Productivity apps for accounting companies to help you make informed decisions that save time and improve the bottom line.

There is plenty of evidence supporting the implementation of business technology to improve workflows. 

Slack’s Future of Work report found that 76% of workers want more communication tools available to them in the future, and 74% of respondents in one McKinsey survey reported that social technologies were somewhat, very or extremely integrated into their day-to-day duties.

In finance, professionals think of accounting automation tools as a way to save time, but such tools can deliver an even greater value beyond the productivity mantra: reduced risk.

Automating processes reduces the likelihood of user errors. Automating common accounting tasks opens up the possibility of real-time reporting, which means finance teams can catch potential problems and resolve them while they’re still fairly minor.

According to Oracle, “while automation software is opening up new risk management opportunities for finance leaders in every industry, financial services companies have understandably taken the lead.”

A report by McKinsey notes that currently about 50% of financial services staff are dedicated to risk-related work and 15% are focused on analytics. By 2025, these figures will be reversing, becoming closer to 25 and 40 percent, respectively.

Accounting can be a time-consuming chore for small business owners, but a necessary one in order to track, manage, and optimize your business’ growth over time.

Choosing the right tools means understanding what each of these applications does, how they work, and whether they’re a good fit for your particular scenario.

From bookkeeping to invoice processing to tracking expenses, there are many different things to consider when choosing the right software.

As accounting and technology are becoming more intertwined, managers need to become more intentional about the software they choose.

In this article, you will learn:

1.How apps can serve clients better 

2. How to challenge yourself to look at your practice from a different perspective

3. How to question why you do things the old way

1. Taking control of accounting 🔍

Small business bookkeeping software improves accuracy, so you’ll have fewer errors compared to manually-generated reports. Accounting tools also help ensure tax compliance.

Once you choose the right accounting software, you’ll be able to make smarter business decisions and have more time to focus on other areas of your company.

Once you automate tasks like generating reports, sending invoices, and reconciling bank statements, your bookkeeping will be more efficient and accurate. 

What’s more, top accounting tools typically integrate with third-party solutions to facilitate end-to-end workflows. Such integrations include payment processing, payroll, CRM, data extraction, etc.

If you’re already using other platforms to run your small business, you should definitely find an accounting solution that’s compatible with them.

Tools: Xero, QuickBooks, ABSS

2. Making invoice processing seamless 🧾

For many businesses, one of the first ways to start challenging the manual work of processing incoming invoices is through invoice digitization.

While going completely paperless is the ultimate goal, in the foreseeable future, businesses — especially small and medium enterprises — are still going to be dealing with paper invoices. 

The invoice digitization process extracts the relevant data from these invoices and produces a digitized invoice. This is essentially a structured form of invoice data that can be easily used for processing. The source of a digitized invoice could be a scanned copy or image of a paper invoice or a PDF copy of an invoice

Digitization of invoices helps remove the inefficiency of manual work. Invoice digitization can have a fast, direct and measurable impact on many processes such as invoice processing itself, but also compliance, security, relationships with external and internal suppliers, improved operational planning, and cost reduction.

Invoice processing for small businesses makes it extremely easy to move away from paper invoices and into digitized invoices. 

When you use an invoice digitization solution to digitize invoices, it’s easier than ever to connect it to your accounting software and to import invoice data seamlessly. This will allow companies to have a fully digital booking process for invoices.

Tools: Innovo Invoice

3. Onboarding new clients 🤝

Getting new clients is always exciting. But onboarding them is never an easy feat. Thankfully you can now automate a lot of the work that needs to be done.

For smaller businesses, the client’s dedicated bookkeeper might be in charge of the entire process of bringing on a new client, from sales to onboarding, to ongoing bookkeeping.

An onboarding workflow allows you to familiarize your clients with your product. Once they do, they’re automatically set up as an organization in your accounting software.

Ensuring that a new client’s first few interactions with your accounting or bookkeeping firm are smooth will help your relationship start off on the right foot.

Even if you serve a diverse array of clients, the tasks that must be completed during onboarding essentially remain the same for every new client. Standardization involves mapping out these steps and building a repeatable process around them.

With an accounting practice management software, which helps you manage the back-office of your accounting practice, you can manage proposals, payment processing, workflow management, sales enablement, client communication, reporting and more.

Tools: Practice Ignition, Karbon

4. Making receipts and data entry an easy task ✅

Clients really don’t like to hold onto receipts for business expenses, and many of them aren’t good at it. Records can get lost all the time. But with the right tool, they can simply upload receipts through a web app, mobile device, or via email.

Once receipts are uploaded, the key data is automatically extracted and booked into their accounting software as transactions.

Keeping records of transactions is one of the great pains of small business ownership.

Once you have your expense management software set up fully, you can onboard your employees, especially the ones who have access to corporate credit cards and those who are always on the move.

By doing so, you can keep a close eye on how they use the cards and what kind of expenses they add to the system. This means that you do not have to wait until the end of a period to track the spend. Similarly, through the application, you can easily set up clear internal expense policies that will help you keep staff out of the dark about what is and isn’t allowed. 

What’s more, since you have real-time access to employee expenditures, you can immediately review, approve, reject, or return expense reports for edits or clarification.

Tools: Expensify, Innovo Xpense

5. Storing and organizing your files properly 📂

Cloud storage services can provide vast storage and backup space for your customers’ files and documents at an affordable cost. 

Keep all your client documents online so you can jump in and make edits or send files from anywhere. Cloud storage is important because it saves you from the hassle of daily backups and server management.

Besides, some file management apps come with features built specifically for accountants and bookkeepers, allowing you to pull client data straight from your practice software, so you can auto-populate documents with the needed information.

Tools: Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Box Sync

6. Putting clients in charge of their inventory 📝

Inventory is a considerable cost, yet very few small businesses manage it well. This happens because they don’t have the processes or human resources to stay on top of it, so they end up relying on periodic or incomplete inventory counts. This limits what companies can do from an accounting perspective. For example, it’s hard to track products and figure out the true cost of goods sold. 

Software can replace a lot of tedious work for your clients. The right accounting technology will add new items to inventory as stock comes into the business, and subtract them as they’re sold.

Inventory and accounting system integrations should be scalable and happen in real-time. With improved visibility, customers and supply chain partners will have oversight and ensure that your financial reports are accurate.

Tools: TradeGecko

7. Leveling up customer support 📲

If your technology stack doesn’t include automated bot support, your team might be losing time and efficiency in the process. 

A McKinsey report found that tech enablement — which means the employment of bots, algorithms, and artificial intelligence technology to take care of general and administrative challenges — could save the advanced industrial sector “in the region of $60 to $120 billion globally.” The same study found that “27% of finance activities could be automated using technologies already available.”

In accounting, customer support and messaging bots help teams quickly engage with clients and prospects and offer information and support in real-time. 

Chatbots let you deliver fast answers 24/7 to the questions your customers are asking frequently. What’s more, according to Intercom, chatbots are “rapidly spreading beyond the realm of customer support to drive growth at all stages of the customer lifecycle with sales now being the most common use case (41%), followed closely by support (37%) and marketing (17%).”

Tools: Intercom, Drift

8. Focusing on project management 📥

Staying on top of projects can be frustrating but with the right tool, the entire process can become streamlined and easier for everyone.

The right software will turn you into a project management master, able to get updates, set up tasks, and communicate everything with your team on the fly.

Project management software brings all your team’s projects and tasks together in one place so you can seamlessly plan, manage, and communicate your work.

Some tools offer a variety of options, and some don’t. For example, a team focused on deadline-driven projects may want to visualize work on a timeline or calendar to see and understand the steps involved, what tasks are depending on others, and when work is happening.

Tools: Trello, Asana, Basecamp, ProofHub

Final Notes 👋🏻

Bookkeeping is crucial to long-term financial success. But staying on top of bookkeeping with automation will provide you with invaluable insights into the inner workings of your business and allow you to make informed decisions that save time and improve the bottom line. 

For more details, take a look at our help centre and blog articles and see how you can save time and improve your current processes.

Posted by:Andreea Serb

Andreea Serb is a Content Marketing Lead at Innovo42. Follow her on Twitter @Andreea_Serb to discover stories and fresh perspectives from the industry.