Automated accounting for small; mid-sized businesses

Accounts payable and receivable will always be important processes in manufacturing. IndustryWeek reports that while accounting management accounting software has been around for 20 years or so, the automation of many companies’ accounting processes is still a continuing process.

“On the receivables side, we are trying to automate our outgoing invoices, and we want to get all our receipts electronically,” said Michael Clayback, director of information technology at Sealing Devices. IndustryWeek reports that the company encourages its customers to pay electronically as well, by invoicing them electronically. They use Oracle Corporation’s E-Business Suite including, accounts receivable and accounts payable.

“When we ship to a customer, the auto-invoice function in the software generates the invoice from the shipping transaction.” Although several of the company’s 12,000 customers still pay using paper checks, Clayback says, “Our focus is on eliminating the exceptions,” according to IndustryWeek.

Accounts payable are difficult to standardize, as the method that vendor invoices are received is varied. Some invoices come using the Postal Service, while others are sent electronically or via facsimile machine. Document capture and imaging systems can accept an assortment of invoice formats via facsimile and convert them into digital images for more automated integration into a company’s accounting system. Kofax Image Products develops PC-based scanning systems for this purpose.

Buzz Adams, president of Peak Value Consulting, told IndustryWeek, “The Payback is very dramatic for these systems, especially for companies that are manually entering this information. If they have a high volume of invoices, they can get giant increases in productivity.”

AddressGrabber software can help small companies manage their Business Finances faster, translating to shorter sales cycle and better customer satisfaction, according to their web site. The tool seamlessly works with accounting applications such as QuickBooks and Peachtree, and shipping applications such as FedEx and UPS, capturing customer contact information to ensure proper deliveries and checking its contact database to eliminate duplicate addresses.

Internet businesses are also becoming more numerous. N Software offers Ibiz Integrator, providing a comprehensive suite of easy-to-use components for accessing Intuit Quickbooks® and automating accounting tasks. This includes local or client-server installations of Quickbooks, according to their web site. Their E-Payment Integrator includes support for all major payment gateways for credit card and electronic check (ACH) processing. N Software also offers a PayPal Integrator to provide access to PayPal merchant services, as well as a Paymentech Integrator for direct credit card authorization and transaction processing.

American Chronicle suggests there are several questions that an organization should ask itself when considering the automation of several accounting processes or their entire accounting system:

  • Which manual tasks would benefit our company by automating them?
  • Where in your accounting cycle are we seeing the highest number of errors or productivity loss?
  • Do these errors or productivity losses have negative impacts?
  • What information do we need to make strategic decisions?
  • What information do we need to accurately forecast and control cash flow?
  • What information do we need for the company’s accounts receivables and inventory?

The benefits of automated accounting are more than just improving the speed and efficiency of a company’s accounting operations, according to American Chronicle. Companies automating their accounting processes have seen improved cash flow, more accurate information, as well as improved, more concise decision making.

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