Is your practice winning the data challenge?
Does software always improve efficiency? Sourcing data across different accounting packages may actually waste time. Brought to you by Access Group.
Accountants are losing at least two billable hours a day using inefficient practice and client systems to do their work, according to a survey of practitioners conducted recently by software development firm The Access Group.
The Access Group surveyed 493 small-to-medium sized accounting practices, and released the results in its new ebook – Top 4 Data Challenges Facing Australian Practices. This survey showed that 42% of respondents spent between one to two hours per day sorting through data from clients and their own practice applications.
The source of the problem
Kerry Agiasotis, The Access Group’s Asia-Pacific president, says this represents an inefficiency in practices that not only costs accountants valuable time, it also means there are fewer chargeable hours worked.
“The typical individual that is doing this is not a dedicated person managing data – it’s an accountant,” he says. “Think about 2.2 hours of an accountant’s time that is time not being billed. If you extrapolate that it can be up to $100,000 a year per firm.”
A further problem that concerned more than half of the practices surveyed was a lack of one source of truth for data. Only 49% of practices surveyed had a single source for both client and practice data.
Agiasotis says that practice tools and data may be kept across different applications and computers, leaving accountants unable to create quickly the reports needed for analysis and decision making.
Agiasotis believes accountants and their clients grapple with different software packages, making it difficult for practitioners seeking to streamline reporting formats across their client base.
“The challenge with that is each of those packages is very different. I might just want to get at a particular type of transaction and the way I find that in one filing system is very different to the other,” he explains.
“What I now have to do is pull all of that data out, and somehow organise it so it is uniform so that I can create that report once and not four times.”
The Access Group’s latest research on data challenges  showed that only 8% of practitioners surveyed  were able to use their practice and client data effectively in order to deliver a range of services and reports to clients on a timely basis; only 17% of practices said they used business intelligence tools to automate basic tasks.
Agiasotis says business intelligence tools such as those developed by The Access Group give accountants the ability to morph from simply being a compliance professional to a value-adding consultant.
“Where all of this evolves to is providing real-time, action-oriented insights that can alert a client to a problem they may not have seen, so they can act on it when it happens.”
“Where all of this evolves to is providing real-time, action-oriented insights”