Making the most of data automation

Manual data processing relies heavily on hard copies of information, such as invoices or bank statements, and works best when teams are in the same physical location. As we adapt to change in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, manual data processing is becoming much more difficult as people and paperwork are all in different locations.

Now is the perfect time to use cloud accounting to automate your manual data entry processes. This automation will give your people more time to focus on the areas of your business that really matter, and there’s never been a more important time for that.

Why automate your manual data entry?

    It’s faster

No matter how quickly you can type, it’ll never be as fast as the automation software. You also save time not having to review and double check what you’ve entered, since the software follows the rules without fail every time.

    It’s more accurate

We all make mistakes – transposing digits, entering incorrect VAT rates, missing a decimal point etc. These are all very common errors. Data automation tools don’t make these types of mistakes.

    It’s cheaper 

Whether you enter the data yourself, or pay someone else to do it, paper-based accounting comes at a cost. The price you pay for a cloud accounting software licence and the associated tools can often work out significantly cheaper in the long run.

    It’s clearer 

Sometimes, data that’s been entered by human beings isn’t clear. This creates added time and costs when clarification is needed, or when the people entering the data have to make assumptions (and mistakes). The danger of this is removed with automation tools.

So, we know that data entry automation can be faster, cheaper, and more efficient than manual processing. But what kinds of data are we talking about here?

There are six types of financial information processing that cloud accounting software can automate for you.

    Bank feeds 

Connecting your cloud accounting software directly to your bank allows transactions to securely flow in automatically. This minimises error as the transactions are coming directly from the bank, is a big-time saver, and makes the bank reconciliation process easier. Most importantly it allows daily reconciliations and gives a timely picture of business performance.

    Transaction processing

Apps such as Hubdoc and Autoentry use machine learning and optical character recognition (OCR) technology to read information and register it into your system as a transaction.

Scan, email, or take a photo of a bill, invoice, expense, receipt or document and use the software to categorise and file data into your system – no more keying in of data.

This speeds up data entry and also means images of receipts and bills are stored in the system against each transaction, for a full audit trail.

    Bank reconciliations

You can automate bank reconciliations by using machine learning capabilities within the software to suggest matches, or auto match transactions to invoices or bills that are already in the system, based on values and references.

You can use bank rules to reconcile frequently recurring bank statement lines where transactions don’t already exist in the software, such as bank charges.

    Repeating invoices and recurring transactions 

For regularly occurring transactions, you can use the software’s repeating templates or recurring transaction features.

Using repeating invoice templates will automatically create and save transactions, for either invoices or bills. This allows you to automatically send invoices to contacts if the transaction does not need further approval.  

Recurring transactions or journals can be created based on saved custom templates and can be posted automatically.

    Default information settings 

Adding defaults against a specific contact will save time when creating an invoice or bill. You can still override the defaults for individual transactions if you need to, but you might typically set defaults for:

  • nominal codes;
  • stock items;
  • categories or departments;
  • projects; or
  • tax rates.

The software will learn how your business is run, automatically completing fields based on previous entries. For example, the software can suggest the nominal code for a specific transaction based on how similar transactions have been previously coded.

    Online quotes and invoices 

Quoting, invoicing and monitoring payments, can all be done within your cloud accounting software. You can even create different branding themes for invoices to make them stand out. 

Some solutions allow you to create quotes and invoices on a mobile app, meaning you can do it wherever and whenever.

You can also set invoice payment defaults and connect payment services such as Stripe or GoCardless to get paid faster. Using invoice reminders to let customers know what’s outstanding will mean less time chasing payments and improved cash flow.

We can help

Real time data that is processed and accessed using cloud accounting software and associated technologies, will provide you with up to date and accurate information. This can be shared with all your stakeholders including your accountant or adviser, enabling you to make accurate, timely and well-informed business decisions.

Contact us to find out how we can help introduce cloud accounting into your business and help you to correctly set up and manage your data automation processes.  

For further information contact

Lee Marshall Lee Marshall

Partner, Head of Accounting and Business Advisory