The automatization process and the future of accounting
The robotization of bookkeeping companies operating in Lithuania is inevitable. It is an ongoing process, to which companies must adapt and exploit the opportunities offered.
“Nordgain” is not only interested in this area, we have been installing robots to our systems for some time now. At the moment, we are introducing a new system that will no longer have any paper accounting document. The system combines several functions – document management, administration, archiving, payroll calculation, administration of personnel records and linking to other systems that interact with each other. All of this is linked to Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Most of the communication with clients takes place through this system – the data is received, the employees of the enterprises submit applications through the system, they see the information they provide. Everything is in one place, there is no doubling or tripling of functions.
Robotization, or the automation of certain processes, will replace and change the accounting profession – its daily activities and profile. What will this profession become in the future – we do not know yet, but the change is in progress. One thing is clear – the traditional image of an accountant loaded with documents is already a thing of the past. Robotics is one of the reasons why accountants are increasingly forced to agree on the same standards, due to the way in which accounting should be conducted. The result of this standardization is a simple, clear and expeditious provision of the accounting service. The results can be easily presented and compared to another company’s financials.
If a company providing accounting services wants to be competitive in local and foreign markets, it must follow global trends. Currently, it is very easy to transfer accounting work (at least the majority of them) to another country, another continent. So, want it or not you have to work more efficiently and offer new opportunities to customers.
Robots, or in other words, programs that process data, make the work of an accountant easier and more interesting as they take on the least interesting part of daily work – manual data capture. One of the main and most up-to-date tasks of these programs is the processing of digital documents (scanned documents, electronic invoices, bank statements). Accountants are no longer inserting data manually, this job has been given to robots.
The problem is that these programs can not work completely independently – there are errors that people still have to find. For example, mixing “o” and zero, “i” and capital “I” etc. However, robots have the inherent qualities of learning, databases become more global, so it’s only a matter of time when people will no longer need to process such basic information.
Robot learning is still hampered by mandatory data protection, since confidential corporate data is being processed. Suppose one program receives bills from a single source, it already knows where the data it needs to process is placed, therefore no errors occur. However, having received an invoice from an unknown source, it may make a mistake in processing data. Sharing knowledge with each other would reduce the number of automatic document processing. This often requires more sophisticated technical solutions and, of course, it is a must to completely ensure the confidentiality of the data processed.
There is a standardization process happening in Lithuania and other countries. For example, the main focus of the International Financial Reporting Standards is to harmonize financial reporting standards between countries. Data integration takes place with state institutions. In Lithuania, we have already partially installed the i.MAS system. Similar processes are taking place in Portugal, Luxembourg, France, Poland, Austria, Norway.
When it comes to robotics, it should be borne in mind that robots are not only helping companies to plan human resources (no need for data collectors), there is also a different aspect: once they have done routine work, the specialists who process their accounting information will be able to more effectively use their higher qualifications and abilities. The benefits of accounting knowledge will not really go away, but there will be a requirement for knowledge in the technical and IT spheres. The future accountant will have to be able to think structurally.
The emerging of robots in bookkeeping is not an unexpected technological jump. This is a natural process of development of information technology, gradually, but more and more rapidly, coming into all areas of life. The first step was – the creation of such programs and algorithms in general, the second step, which is already taking place, is the interconnection of all systems, the exchange of data, interpretation, the provision of analyzes, and forecasts. So the accounting functions begins to connect with the functions of a CFO, or a Financial Controller. Due to this type of merger and the need for new functions, in the future we will have professions we do not currently have at all.
The programs provide opportunities for the accountant and financier professions to integrate. And as a result, the bookkeeper’s work continues to be more interesting, but it’s no longer just an accountant’s job. This profession, as we perceive it traditionally, is gradually disappearing, but people’s knowledge will not go away, they will continue to be applied to finance and bookkeeping, which will be qualitatively different. Perhaps a new specialty will appear, with a new name, say, robot managers.
Robotics will replace the processes that are taking place in enterprises, it’s likely that there will be no sections exclusively dedicated to bookkeeping, maybe a merger between multiple functions will occur. Of course, this will not change the work of lawyers, tax consultants, but as programs are changing the simplest work of bookkeeper’s, it will change other work areas as well.
All companies have already applied automation to one or another level in their processes. Both we and our customers are already using it. And after 5 years it will be an everyday process. Perhaps we will not call this process robots, because we now call it that due to a romanticized look to the future. A robot is just a bookkeeping program with better capabilities.
Robotics will really spread out in Lithuania, because our emigration is huge, and there is a shortage of workforce, we need to optimize. On the other hand, it is necessary to maintain professional people, motivate them with tasks that are interesting. People like to work with technology better than doing routine work themselves.
Technological innovations are coming to Lithuania somewhat late, comparing with economically stronger states. After all, any innovations in business, their implementation requires additional investment. However, if we want to be competitive, Lithuanian companies will have to adapt and naturally adopt new generation technologies. The rush to the first wagon has a positive side as well, because after some time we can choose technologies that have been successfully tested on the global market and the costs of installing and maintaining them are clear. Additional time allows business executives to make sure that other companies benefit from these technologies. On the other hand, when installing applications, there is a bit of an obligation element from public authorities, as it was and still is in the case of the deployment of i.MAS.
Undoubtedly, bookkeepers working with old methods and old technologies will remain for some time at a lower price, but in the process of universal data integration, their services will no longer be needed.