Automating accounting processes isn’t as simple as just buying Accounting Process Automation
(APA) software. It requires a methodical approach that starts with understanding the tasks that
need to be automated, breaking them down step by step and adapting manual workflows to
the way APA software works. It also involves testing to make sure the automated workflows
perform as intended. Here are six steps businesses can take to automate their accounting
Step 1: Analyze current accounting processes.
Many, but not all, accounting processes can be automated. The best candidates for automation
are tasks that require employees to do frequent, repetitive work, involve few interpersonal
connections and take little to no creativity. The aim of automation is to boost speed and
efficiency to help accounting teams, not replace them altogether.
Step 2: Evaluate existing technologies.
APA is a software-based approach. The best automation approach for a business will depend on
its existing accounting technologies and software applications, whether these systems already
speak with each other or need to be integrated. In the latter case, cloud-based APA solutions
are a popular option that unifies a company’s accounting and finance systems on a single
platform where data is created, shared and processed in a common language.
Step 3: Assign a project owner.
Automated processes run on software alone, but it’s still important to have a human being
oversee APA workflows to make sure everything runs smoothly and troubleshoot problems on
the rare occasions they arise. For example, software runs off of rules set by users or the
company admin, and those rules can cause inaccuracies in payroll, leading to late payments. A
project owner can spot and address that issue before it affects employees, or at least mitigate
the effects by fixing the problem quickly.
Step 4: Create and document current workflows.
The goal of APA is to simplify existing workflows and make them more efficient, and the best
way to do that is to look for opportunities to streamline processes. By breaking down existing
workflows at a granular level, businesses will then see where they can be improved and how to
best re-create tasks with an APA solution.
Step 5: Automate based on the updated workflow.
Every workflow in a business can be broken down into three parts: a trigger, an action and an
outcome. When automating workflows, it’s important to spell out these three parts at a
granular level to ensure they deliver the intended results every time.
Consider, for example, a simple workflow in the purchase order (PO) approval chain. A trigger
might be the submission of a new PO from your procurement manager. That trigger would in
turn set off an action, such as an automatic email to the relevant stakeholder in your business
that the PO is ready for approval. The desired outcome is an approved PO.
Step 6: Test and iterate.
To make sure that an automated workflow delivers the intended results consistently,
businesses can test and iterate. One test run might be enough, but it’s common to test and
iterate a few times to iron out wrinkles, especially when adapting manual workflows for
For more information about how Oracle NetSuite’s Financial Management solution can
facilitate the automation of your accounting processes, CONTACT our Smart Technologies
expert Massimo Avellino at firstname.lastname@example.org.