Automation And People Doing Their Job


So I have written about growth companies headcount reduction and hiring as great situations for accounting automation. Today’s installment on the series of people, companies and situations that are best for automation is one of my favorites.

A Young Old Timer

I have been working with companies helping them go from paper to automated accounting processes for the last 13 years. That’s not a long time to be in business, however for automation technology I sometime feel like the old man of the sea. The situation I am writing about today is one that continues to amazing me, especially when times got difficult; that is people doing their intended job.

I Always Tell This Story

I have multiple  stories to illustrate this idea that over time people in accounting don’t do their intended job…. however, here is my favorite.  I was working with a company in Florida. We were doing a cost per invoices study. One of the questions on the study is how many people file, what percentage of their day is dedicated to filing and what are they paid (you can look back about a month or two and read my post on cost per invoice if you are wondering why I ask those questions). When I got the results back, the sheet read “$75,000” per year for a filing clerk. I called they guy and I said, “I noticed that you pay filing clerks $75,000 per year… my wife is looking for some work… would you take a teenager too?” He got a little laugh out of that. I was thinking it was a mistake, but he went on to explain that several year prior the board was interested in cutting cost and let all of the filing personnel go. The big idea was everyone in accounting was going to participate in what he called a “filing party”. Well the time for the first filing party was upon the company, and they had a blast! Someone order pizza they cut up and had a good time. The next week, same situation, everyone pitched in and it wasn’t a big deal. About six weeks into the idea, someone couldn’t make the party because they had to pick their kid up from school. Then a few weeks later a few more people couldn’t make it… the party was no more. Over about two years the task for filing fell squarely on to the shoulder of someone who had the attitude... if something needs to get done… I’ll do it! 

The Impact of “I’ll Do It!”

The person who was now spending 40% of her time on filing invoices was a highly educated and skilled project accountant. Filing is important, but you don’t want someone who is in charge of accounting on a project by project basis to be spending her time on it.

I had a call with a CFO at a different company about the same time and I asked him why he was interested in (at them time) accounts payable automaton He said, “I have a lot of highly skilled people doing a lot of unskilled tasks, and it needs to stop“. That’s the point behind the situation of doing their intended job.  It is typical in accounting that task arise that are manual and time intensive that can be eliminated with automation, so those skilled people can do their skill task.

Find Out For Yourself

When looking to justify automation, don’t look past the fact that people in accounting are doing things that automation can take over. Below are a few areas to look at:

  • Accounting System Data Entry
  • Opening Mail
  • Filing
  • Cutting Checks
  • Coding (Some – Not All)
  • Purchase Order Matching
  • Contract Analysis
  • Consumption Reporting (Utilities is an example)

Tomorrow I am going to put a bow on situations that are good for accounting automation… stay tuned.

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

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