My watch tells me I’ve taken 20,538 steps today, covering 10.41 miles in the process. That seems like a lot. Now, admittedly, about two miles was due to my getting lost on the mean streets of Las Vegas, in search of deodorant. The rest came on the SleeterCon show floor.
Day one of SleeterCon 2015 was a whirlwind of sessions, meet-and-greets, and talks. I heard from the Sleeter Group’s founder, Doug Sleeter, in the morning. His message, and the message of this whole conference, centered on the future of accounting.
Here’s the snapshot of the future that I caught yesterday.
Accounting software is just the beginning
If your accounting package is the sun in your business’s software universe, the planets are its payroll, inventory, point-of-sales, billing, and benefits management software packages. There are actually a whole host of other little planets, far-flung and difficult to see with the naked eye, but these are the big ones.
Payroll, in particular, has had an explosion in the last few months. A whole host of payroll providers – Patriot PAY, Sage Payroll, and Zenefits, to name a few – are changing the way payroll is managed and integrated with accounting solutions. These brands are making payroll easier by cutting out all the busywork that normally accompanies the process. Instead, you’re clicking, double checking, and submitting. Done.
Other trends in expense management and bill payment are trying to make a similar move. Receipt Bank and Expensify are turning paper receipts, emailed invoices, and other clutter into usable accounting data. No more shoeboxes – where do all these shoeboxes come from anyways – full of receipts for accountants to sift through. Now, it all happens digitally, with as little or much oversight as you deem necessary.
All of these planets serve to make that core accounting software package all the more valuable.
Your accounting ecosystem needs planning
As a direct result of these third-party solutions, businesses need to spend even more time figuring out which accounting software is right for them. While everyone is going to “integrate with [Software X],” not everyone is going to do it in the same way.
As a talk given by inventory management specialists Charlie Russell and Mario Nowogrodzki talked about how the difference between accounting packages can determine which kind of inventory management system you can ultimately use. If you’re not setup with a winner from the start, no amount of add-on goodness is going to get you where you need to be.
Expensify made a similar point in its presentation. When an expense software says it integrates with QuickBooks, take a deeper look. Are the credit cards posting to the right accounts? Can you edit the data once it’s in? Who has control over how the data moves between the two systems? There are a million different ways to get from here to there, and some are simply better.
The future is what you make it
The day’s closing remarks came from Jim McGinnis, VP of Intuit’s Accountant and Advisor group. He talked about the future we’re already seeing. The future where you enter fewer things manually, where accountants spend less time sorting receipts, and where the tools we use integrate seamlessly with our accounting software.
A pessimist looks at that and wonders where the humanity has gone. An optimist sees an opportunity for increased humanity.
Instead of adding value by being generally organized and understanding how money works, accountants can add value by understanding how individuals business can move from good to great. Focusing on the deeper trends in a business allows accountants to think strategically instead of re-actively. That’s a whole new kind of value coming to the table.
Day two is just around the corner, and I can’t wait to see what it brings. Check the Capterra finance blog on Thursday to see how it all turned out, and if my legs gave out before the show ended.
I need a Segway.
Header by Rachell Wille
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