In many companies, the work of the accounts department has changed dramatically in recent decades. Tasks have switched from being manual to digital and even intelligent and automated…

How does digitisation affect your role as controller?  What happens when systems can perform more accurate analyses than people? Could you even be replaced by a robot?

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From manual stamping to automatic coding

Traditionally, the work of an accounts department consisted mainly of bookkeeping and processing payments. Large transaction volumes and manual procedures made the work time-consuming.

As companies introduced IT systems, manual work has been reduced and accounts departments have been able to spend more time preparing decision documentation and supporting the management.

The increasing degree of systematisation can be summarised in these stages of development:

  • Information goes digital

The volume of paper is decreased, along with the need for manual transfers. It is easier to store and find information (search rather than look for).

  • Tasks are done automatically

Certain tasks are reduced in volume or eliminated, for example stamping. Invoices come into the approvals system electronically and no longer need to be keyed in.

  • Artificial intelligence replaces human input in a growing number of areas, for example coding or database searches. Recurring invoices can already be recognised and coded automatically.

Technological developments continue apace. There is already evidence that a computer is better at “brain work” than people.

But development is not going so rapidly that you risk being replaced by a robot.

On the other hand, these trends will mean continued opportunities to make the work of the accounts department more efficient. And greater demands on controllers like yourself to lead your organisation through the change.

The role of controller in the next few years will probably be more about improving working methods in the accounts department than performing actual tasks.

The digital finance and accounts function of the future

We have prepared a number of reports to support controllers.

You can download “The Digital Finance and Accounts Department of the Future” here. It talks about how technical solutions can pave the way for more efficient new working methods, how you can make best use of them and a few pitfalls you should avoid.

When you download this report, you will also get the full report “Is the controller of the future a robot?” This blog post is an extract from that report.