The accounting industry has changed dramatically over time with advances in technology. While we may immediately think of the computer, the first real improvements in accounting technology took place several decades ago when numbers no longer needed to be added by hand. After this, the profession began to change by leaps and bounds with rapid gains in modern technology.
Early Advances in Accounting Technology
In the 1970s, much of what an accountant did was still very laborious hand-entry of debits and credits into ledger books. The release of the first spreadsheet computer program called VisiCalc in 1979, changed this virtually overnight. What used to take an accountant twenty hours a week to do, could now be accomplished in just 15 minutes with this new program.
QuickBooks was first released in 1998 as a desktop accounting software program. This program has now grown into the world’s most popular online accounting software package, with over 4.5 million companies and 80% of bookkeepers making use of the program. Although the software hasn’t been without its issues, it does allow for such things as payroll processing, bill payment and point of sale functioning.
Modern Advances in Accounting Technology
With the advent of software like Excel and the more advanced accounting software, the profession has changed a great deal in recent years. Modern accountants now make use of the internet to coordinate services for clients and to streamline accounting functions. The use of cloud computing can reduce IT expenses by 30 to 70 percent, which are savings that can be passed on to clients and down the line to customers.
Modern technology has not only simplified the accounting function for accountants, but for the clients as well. Software programs and apps that provide better tracking of financial transactions and other useful data make the job of the accountant more streamlined. In the event of an audit, the documentation required is easily accessible and in nearly all electronic format.
Because of the advances in modern technology, the function of accountants as they relate to the businesses they serve has evolved as well. As many of the data-crunching functions are now automated, this frees accounting professionals up to provide additional value-added advisory services to their clients. Some of these services include:
- Data Interpretation. Data is no longer simply handed over in periodic reports, but can now be interpreted much more easily. This includes looking for weak points in a client’s business and making suggestions for improvements.
- Forensic Accounting. The sort of internal auditing services that would have taken weeks or months many years ago, can now be offered as a standard service to clients so that fraud can be prevented and contract disputes avoided.
The stereotypical task-oriented accountant went out of style with the slide rule many years ago. The advances in modern technology have streamlined many accounting processes that now allow your accounting professional to provide you with an even higher level of specialty services than in the past.
Cheryl Jefferson and Associates leverages the latest accounting technologies and performs all of our engagements paperless. . If you have a question about how our technologically-focused firm can help your company, contact us today.