Digital Plumbing: How accountants can step back from data entry and make huge leaps in productivity

Manual data entry is not only a time-consuming exercise for accountants and their clients, but this inefficient process also risks errors occurring and restricts productivity. Traditionally, even small changes made in each individual business application – an updated address, for example – meant replicating this same change across all other applications to ensure all teams have the same information.

While on a small scale this may be manageable, as a client’s customer base grows, so do the number of transactions, and all it takes is a simple miscommunication of information between departments for a business to incur serious losses. This is where a ‘digital plumbing’ system comes into play.

Just as a traditional home plumbing system improves water flow through pipes, a digital plumbing system connects all the applications that clients use to run their businesses in order to automate and enhance the flow of information between them. This allows each department in their business and their accounting team to access accurate data across all their systems.

From generating reports to preparing budgets, much of an accountant’s time is spent manually gathering data from different applications. These can often be lengthy processes, which waste a great deal of time, but by having a digital plumbing system in place, accountants can sync all of their clients’ business applications together to bring all data into one place, where any of their clients’ teams can access it and view any updates that have been made in real-time. This cuts down on the number of manual errors and avoids management nightmares by simply connecting applications and automating data entry.

This further allows accountants to streamline their clients’ business processes as departments can gain immediate access all of the accurate information they need to perform essential tasks such as generating reports, contacting clients, resolving customer complaints and so on, which allows them to work more efficiently and to make precise, well-informed decisions on the fly. Without this, they are at the mercy of whatever data is available to them, which is at best irrelevant and at worst inaccurate.

A digital plumbing system also streamlines an accountant’s clients’ business technology, which will not only give accountants easier access to data, but enable them to become more familiar with various aspects of their clients’ businesses. This provides a birds-eye view of the entire business, giving accountants the opportunity to position themselves as strategic advisors by providing additional services, such as financial planning and growth analysis, in addition to managing bookkeeping and helping their clients to control expenditures.

Technological enhancements have undoubtedly facilitated a great deal of change in the accounting profession. However, with a digital plumbing system in place, these changes can become opportunities for accountants to add more value to their practices. Helping clients implement such a system will allow them to spend less time on entering data, removing duplicate entries, and minimising errors. Simply put, more efficient accounting means more successful clients.

With the help of a digital plumbing system, accountants will gain their clients’ trust and become a valued business advisor and integral part of their client’s success.

By Prashant Ganti Murthi, Product Manager, Zoho Books at Zoho