These trends are ever more perceived in the field and are beginning to take shape in corporate actions. Budget allocations of accounting firms to technology investments are indeed increasing, as recent studies found that 85% of companies in the industry recognize that they need to pick up the pace of technology adoption to remain competitive. What’s more, it has been estimated that 86% of auditors’ current tasks and workflows could potentially be automated.
But what exactly are the traditional paper processes that could be automated? Where should a company start its digitization journey?
How can auditors and accountants digitize their business activities?
For successful conversion of paper processes, it is necessary to identify a digital alternative for each of the steps involved: client onboarding and KYC compliance, signatures to be attached or collected, documents to be exchanged and stored. Fortunately, technology has made huge strides for each of these workflows, offering cutting-edge digital versions - with all the advantages that they involve.
Avoid piles of IDs for client onboarding
The identity verification phase is particularly suitable for digital conversion and can be greatly streamlined and speeded up while ensuring compliance with AML Regulations. With an automated KYC process, customer due diligence duties can be performed online - removing the need for the physical presence of the person to be identified and without prejudice for security and privacy. Automation capabilities allow to set up the required steps so that the software asks for and receives the sensitive documentation in a highly safe manner, verifies the social security number (or similar data), and securely archives the information received while preserving its confidentiality.
Know-Your-Customer digitization increases the reliability and quality of the data collected and helps avoid duplication and inconsistencies - with all the benefits that follow in terms of greater staff productivity and improved time-cost efficiency.
Stop using pen and paper to sign your documents
Signing process digitization brings unprecedented convenience as it enables remote transactions, saves time and money, and demonstrates CSR commitment.
Being trusted and enforceable in nearly every industrialized nation worldwide, digital signatures are as legally binding and valid as ordinary ones placed with ink on paper. It follows that no company, court, or authority can refuse to accept or recognize contractual documents on the grounds that they are digitally signed.
What’s likely the greatest benefit from the automation of the signing process is the higher security provided: the digital signature is the signing method that ensures with most certainty the identity of the signer as well as the integrity of the message. Furthermore, digital signatures are labeled as virtually impossible to defraud. A document signed digitally cannot be altered in transit, and the contractual parties can’t deny having signed it as their certificate-based digital ID binds each signature to the document with encryption.
Standardize and secure your document storage
It can be challenging to protect confidential data from information theft when such data is retained on paper records that are highly vulnerable to security breaches. Not to mention how easily paper documents can get misplaced and lost.
Digital transaction management gives the means to faster, easier, and more secure modalities of handling sensitive documents. Having an electronic inventory of your files - always accessible from any device so that you can sign and send on the go - lets you effortlessly navigate your documents and retrieve the one you need in a matter of seconds. This helps prevent everyday pitfalls such as loss of data or files, process breakdown, or lack of control. Document-flows digitization allows the full upgrade of paper-based transactions thanks to time-saving functionalities like archive management, search and retrieval, and progress overview.
Moreover, a comprehensive DTM solution improves information sharing and project collaboration. Greater security is ensured when the data is regularly and automatically backed up to the cloud so that even cybersecurity incidents can’t affect documents and information safely stored offsite-online.
Embrace the “set it and forget it” mindset
Let technology lighten your workload and simplify your daily tasks. Business process automation goes a long way in easing and relieving repetitive manual routines and appears highly beneficial in improving document routing and oversight. By setting up user-defined rules and actions, you can build a conditional workflow that triggers the necessary steps for your documents. This accelerates how tasks get done by routing information to the right person at the right time. Smoother processes and automatic reminders confer the priceless comfort of keeping track of the projects’ progress status. By scheduling a due date for the documents to be sent out or giving participants a notification, you’ll never miss a deadline.
Automation can unburden approvals and filing of reports and transform these otherwise long and slow flows into just a few clear and easy steps - reducing processing time from weeks or days to just a few hours. In the meantime, the focus can be allocated to more value-adding activities requiring professional judgment, analysis, and insight, such as consultancy and advisory services.
How to choose the best solution for audit and accounting digitization
The above overview outlines the main characteristics of the software on the market to digitize paper-centric workflows. However, for a successful transition that brings a positive ROI, other aspects should be considered when outsourcing such business-critical activities. Although many software solutions offer similar functionalities, we identified four key differences to watch out for while selecting the best one for your company:
First things first: easiness and mobile accessibility
Access should be possible from any location and device and only require an internet connection. Just as essential is that the usage should be intuitive and trouble-free from the first approach. The main purpose of outsourcing is precisely that: accounting firms don’t usually have internally the ‘skilled expertise’ needed to build automation tools - nor do they intend to engage their staff in a long training process to learn how to implement new software. Hence the need for selecting a digital system that can be rapidly installed and used without requiring an IT team to boot it and keep it running properly. With an easy-to-use interface, you’ll quickly master the various features to start reaping the benefits from day one.
Ensure a safe digital experience: compliance and security as a top priority
How does the software vendor deal with security? Who has access to the information? Are there sufficient anti-fraud measures in place?
What’s probably the most critical aspect to check out when looking for a digital solution is the level of compliance assured by the service provider. You need to gain confidence and control over the way your documents and data are handled and make sure the processing takes place in the safest possible manner, under international standards. Knowing that all sensitive data is managed and archived securely translates into less need for internal compliance processes and reduced risk of compliance issues. To that end, third-party reports and certifications can ensure that a digital system has state-of-the-art protection measures in place to safeguard personal information. Encryption capabilities are, likewise, fundamental as they offer an additional layer of security to protect content integrity and confidentiality of documents and data.
Enhance accuracy and enforce accountability: improve the efficiency of the entire flow
The primary goal of automating repetitive tasks is cutting time and effort spent on administrative duties to let you focus on more strategic areas of your role – and, in turn, add more value to clients and stakeholders. To that end, the chosen digital solution should effectively prevent human mistakes and discrepancies and allow for error minimization. Work-enhancing technology considerably improves thoroughness, precision, and overall audit quality, while shortening the time required to complete the process and lifting customer satisfaction. After all, it’s here that the importance of a fully digital and streamlined process lies: emphasize clients’ needs by ensuring a smoother, internet-only, and more convenient experience.
Replace all your paper processes: save money by going green and stay ahead of the competition
Many companies are still pursuing “partial” digitization of their business, biding their time and opting to maintain a “business as usual” course. In many cases, they have not yet devised a plan to convert into new business models. The fear of the new due to the lack of familiarity with innovations puts such companies at risk to be left behind their competitors. To make sure the technical implementation is a cost-effective investment, the software picked should be able to replace all traditional paper processes completely. Besides, going paperless projects an innovative image of your company as a technologically savvy business that is fit for the future.
How can Penneo help you digitize audit and accounting processes?
At Penneo, we’ve worked closely with audit and accounting companies to build a seamless solution that answers all your demands. We strive to continuously improve our customer-focused product and build new integrations to offer an ever-better experience and further simplify your work!
The overarching combination of capabilities Penneo offers will suit your business needs, improve known problematic areas and operations, and bring further unexpected benefits.
Recent events forced us to stay away from the office. Still, they have also given us the chance to fully appreciate the flexibility of digital experiences, accessible from anywhere, at any time. By using Penneo, wherever you are, everything is under control.
We conceived our product by putting ourselves in the customers’ shoes and built an easy-to-use file structure to facilitate day-to-day operations. It only takes a few moments to get started!
Having an overview of the progress status of your tasks lets you be always on top of everything. You can effortlessly navigate your documents, retrieve the one you need in a matter of seconds, and never miss a deadline.
Overly long audit cycles can erode the stakeholders’ satisfaction. Penneo significantly speeds up the development of the final report, lets you complete more audits in a shorter amount of time, and focus efforts on other tasks.
Penneo automatically prevents the adverse side effects of manual processes and enhances control capability and process analysis; all this allows for higher accuracy and preserves the cost-effectiveness of the entire flow.
Thanks to highly secure sharing capabilities, users get to distribute files to colleagues and clients safely. Penneo lets you create and arrange teams, assign roles and privileges, ease task delegation, and streamline communication. You’ll be saving heaps of time while fostering higher employee satisfaction.
Most companies are likely using one or more software for their activities, and compatibility doubts may arise in adopting new solutions. However, to use our system, there’s no need to change your previous habits and programs: you can integrate them with Penneo, and make them better.
With API integrations you can eliminate redundant data input and allow seamless information flows between different platforms; Penneo provides accountants with a smooth process – from onboarding the client to filing the annual report with the authorities.
We implemented top-level measures to protect the information entrusted by our users. Data and documents can be encrypted to secure content integrity and prevent alteration, and they are stored in data centers within the European Union.
Offering a digital-only flow enables a good adoption rate and safeguards client relationships. Giving them a hitch-free, internet-only service on a flexible platform like Penneo will improve customer experience and increase your business’s competitiveness.
Paperwork reduction means lower materials consumption, less space dedicated to physical archives, and more efficient resource allocation. This not only saves costs but also represents a huge step towards sustainable business practices that create value through digitalization.
Anything that helps shift away from printed documents is good news for the environment. Going green leads to better CSR performance to let you achieve your sustainability goals.
Putting it all together, digital adoption means improved quality and greater transparency, shorter audit cycle times, and reduced errors and disservices. Like other companies from the BFSI sector, auditing workflow automation results in significant cost reduction and process optimization potential. In the long run, it’s more than a transformation in technology. It’s a step forward business-wise.