As a new college graduate, I’ve had my fair share of interviews and conversations with recruiters for accounting positions. One of my first questions that I ask these experienced accountants is; “Can it be automated?”
Only a handful of people say yes, while an estimated 90% of all that I’ve asked say no.
Now, I will put out the disclaimer that I don’t have the years of experience that these people do.
That being said, I’ve had a few months of experience in internal accounting for a large tech company, and as a pretty good judge of character, I’ve observed how these “no-people” work.
Since my experience has been just within the internal accounting department of a company, I will discuss only what I know, so moving forward, when I refer to “accounting” I mean the general day-to-day, month-to-month tasks that a company must perform in order to maintain and manage the corporate finances.
In my internship at the large tech company, I was given a task to assist with revenue. Part of it was comparing the pulled report’s prices to the actual prices that the company charges.
Previously, the process consisted of looking back and forth between the price card and the report, adjusting where needed.
Thinking to myself that there must be a better way, it hit me later to simply have the numbers of the prices entered into an Excel sheet and use VLOOKUP to match the product and the report’s price to the real price of the same product.
My solution sounds simple enough, but why wasn’t it done yet?
The process originally took 3 hours, and I reduced it to 17 minutes by removing the manual work.
I can only imagine what other unnecessary manual work was happening in the department if I found something within a couple months of being there.
This experience, and my days of simply linking cells has led me to wonder; “why isn’t more of accounting automated?”
VLOOKUP is such a simple and common tool in Excel, and sure it took a little bit of extra work to start the faster process, but why are we using Excel and all of its manual labor to begin with? If I could create a function in a workbook, I guarantee we can create some code for a program to have input spaces, functions and outputs.
I fully believe that there can be a system made that will have all of the rules, the calculations, the principles, and periodic financials easily calculated for a company – decreasing the need for as many accountants in the department.
I’m not saying it will be 100% automated, there will be a need for human eyes and mind to determine the subjective methods to go with, but it should not be so laborious.
I’ve recognized something throughout a majority of those who work in accounting, particularly those in one of the Big 4s; close-mindedness and unimaginative.
Wow – stereotypical attributes for those in accounting, huh? Nothing new and creative from this accountant too, right?
Well all I can say is the these typical accounting personalities are really stunting the progression of the ways we do corporate accounting. They are so focused on getting the audit complete in a timely manner, finding ways for companies to reduce their AGI for tax purposes, and doing everything the way they were taught, that there isn’t any room or time for developing ways to do things more efficient.
Maybe it’s not such a personal thing, it’s not entirely the accountants fault. I would put a portion of the responsibility for the lack of creativity on the company as well, but still – no matter who is preventing the better processes – this is the current situation for the lack of automation in accounting.
Or perhaps, these “no-people” say no to automation because it will replace a majority of them?
I want to remove Excel from the accounting world, and take the jobs of a zero-unemployment field. I will automate accounting.