Date posted: 27/02/2023 5 min read

There’s an app for that: how CAs are automating workflows

As two CAs demonstrate in their own firms, using technology can make your practice more efficient, leading to lower overheads and increased profits.

In Brief

  • Using automation, firms can save on administrative burdens
  • Xero is the hero – with an open API, Xero allows new and innovative workflows
  • Clients need to be onboard with tech to realise efficiency gains.

“Any accounting or professional services organisation is still a business, and that’s what got me interested in technology in our practice – understanding the most efficient way we can run the business,” says Rebecca Mihalic FCA, head of accounting at Ignition and a director of businessDEPOT.

For Mihalic, technology and automation increases the capacity of her and her team by reducing data entry and double handling, automating client engagements and ensuring the debtor ledger is minimised. This provides them with more time to better serve and understand their clients.

“Xero and other online accounting ledgers changed the game when they allowed us to work in real time with our clients in the same data file,” Mihalic says. “When we are all looking at the same information in real time it is easier to give our clients important advice in a timely manner.”

Rebecca Mihalic FCA Pictured: Rebecca Mihalic FCA

Creating a tech stack

Optimising workflows is also top of mind for Aly Garrett FCA, founder of Adelaide-based All In Advisory. Her 11-person-strong team has a philosophy of “automate, delegate and do,” using cloud-based services and, of course, Xero.

“If anything can be automated, that’s what we want to do,” she says. “We use a lot of cloud products, which integrate and automate with each other.”

Garrett and her clients rely heavily on Xero and its APIs, with Xero providing practice management, workflows and tax modules, all of which integrate with other software like Ignition. Ignition assists with client billing, and All In Advisory also puts its clients on direct debit, eliminating an extended debtor ledger.

Aly Garrett FCAPictured: Aly Garrett FCA

Saving time, saving money

Both chartered accountants have seen radical changes in the amount of time and human resources needed to run their practices using automation and cloud-based software. Garrett says her firm would need an extra three staff if they were not so highly automated.

It’s a similar situation for Mihalic, who says when she started her business, she needed two administrators. Now, thanks to automation, as the firm has grown there hasn’t been a need to employ more people for admin tasks.

“We haven’t missed a beat on the work needing to be produced, thanks to the efficiency and automation that comes through technology,” she says.

Clients onboard

Clients can also benefit by using automation, as well as rostering and hiring software like Dext and Deputy. According to Garrett, one of her clients – a hospitality group operating several pubs – moved from MYOB to Xero and introduced HR, payroll and rostering software that linked into the Xero ledger.

Prior to the software implementation, the hospitality group had a bookkeeper for each pub; after the software roll-out, they had a part-time bookkeeper in head office and redistributed the funds so they were able to hire a CFO.

“This enabled them to grow and build strategy,” she says. “It’s removing the rote process roles and creating strategic roles, which shows there is power in utilising these tech stacks.”

Attend Accountex and save 10%

Aly Garrett FCA and Rebecca Mihalic FCA will be taking part in a panel session – titled ‘Top processes and tech stacks for high performance teams’ – at Accountex on Wednesday, 15 March 2023 at ICC Sydney. The two-day conference and exhibition on 15–16 March is dedicated to helping the accounting community navigate the future of accounting, and CA ANZ is proud to be an Associate Partner. CA ANZ members can explore the program and save 10% on ticketed areas of the event with the code 10CAANZE.

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