Man Versus Machine, Is Software Replacing The Accountant?
For every small or medium sized company, cutting costs is a fundamental element of success and regardless of size and turn over, business owners the world over are constantly looking for new and innovative ways of reducing costs and increasing profits.
An emerging presence in this field is the growing number of accounting software packages. Available online and in store, these provide business owners with the necessary tools to maintain an intricate and in-depth understanding of their finances, but crucially at a reduced cost.
With such a wide range of accounting software available, many are asking if it is necessary to employ a human accountant. Computers can do an excellent job of bookkeeping, and many can keep track of all the important tax submission deadlines through automatic updates.
They can save you money, they can do complex mathematics, they never go on holiday and they never take lunch breaks. In many respects they are the perfect accountant.
However, before hailing the end of human accounting, there are a few things that need serious consideration.
First, despite their automated and highly accurate potential, there is still the very real problem of human error. The software can be complicated to navigate and accidentally placing the wrong data into the wrong box can have serious consequences. Problems such as these can be compounded as the accountant has been let go, and the data is now being entered by somebody without an in-depth understanding of bookkeeping.
Another problem is the potential for computers to automate the bookkeeping. If a company buys a service, such as hiring a technician to debug a computer, and then, through the same company they make an investment, such as purchasing a computer, the accounting software may file both debits in the same column. A human however, would instantly recognize the difference between investment costs and maintenance costs, whereas a computer may not.
Possibly the most important factor however is the flair of a human to innovation. A human accountant can use their experience and intuition, a computer however will only follow commands. When it comes to businesses, innovation can make all the difference. A human accountant can provide services such as a business plan, whilst offering guidance on when to push for growth and when to hold back.
In essence both the human and its automated counterpart can play a huge role in your businesses future, because together they form a strong allegiance. The computer can help to keep costs down on the day to day bookkeeping, but there is rarely a more effective means of streamlining your taxes and outlining innovative business models than the human mind.
Robert Wells writes for Juniper Accountancy a Bristol chartered accounting firm that specializes in working with small to medium sized businesses.