The recent labor shortage and pandemic-related side effects have translated into accounting and finance staff that needs to do more with less – regardless of what industry you’re in. The trend seems to show more reliance on technology to pick up that slack and also to appeal to new hires. This trend is also causing many business leaders to predict this technology movement to continue to grow. Whether you prioritize staying ahead of the curve in the construction industry or know it’s time to catch up, here are four main areas that point to the future of technology tools in finance and accounting.
No longer can construction companies finance and accounting teams afford to be tethered to the four walls of an office. Everyone needs access to perform their jobs wherever they happen to be working. As you no doubt know, cloud-based technology is the clear answer to this.
Without the physical office, there is no need for storage rooms filled with files. Having your records in a safe, secure cloud repository means it’s simple and fast to retrieve any file you need. Categorize, name and store the documents in a similar way to those physical files and they’re available any time at the click of your mouse or tap of the screen. Take every important accounting document and process with you to access anywhere you go.
With cloud-based access to files and functions comes immense time-savings. As you read down through the automation features that help with accounting functions, keep that time-savings in mind. Imagine these features without cloud access and how this basically returns you to the four walls of that office, awaiting actual paperwork to be submitted.
Automated technology has helped many construction accounting teams become more efficient. Manual double or even triple entry for transactions is not only time-consuming, but expensive. With automation, companies are able to confidently rely on software for many basic accounting processes. This technology can also aid when staffing is tight since the process is simplified and requires less training and work hours to complete.
For example, when financial closing time comes around, by using an automated tool, accountants don’t have to check and copy across systems. For example, expense reports are submitted within a digital platform with receipts and any other associated documents. Exporting those reports is the click of a button instead of days and weeks of work.
Additionally, payroll automation tools help the accounting team in numerous ways. A good payroll software is part of the overall accounting platform, so it’s all completely integrated. Your job site crews can clock in and out remotely, making retrieving that payroll data a snap. Yet another area where data accuracy is so important too. Why not eliminate the risk of human error in these key accounting processes?
If your company also does service work, invoicing and payment automation will position you as a competitive force in the industry. Your service techs suddenly become more productive mobile professionals, without the back office needing to spend time collecting paperwork and payments.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
One excellent way that financial professionals can become more productive is with the help of artificial intelligence. While this goes somewhat hand in hand with the above points about automation being a big time-saving piece of technology, AI is heavily relied upon in accounting today. Hand time-consuming and redundant tasks over to an AI algorithm to reduce costs and also eliminate any human error possibilities. So much more than a plain old number cruncher, AI allows financial professionals to become more productive with the streamlined processes and heightened efficiencies.
In addition to freeing up time for looking at the bigger picture using analytics, artificial intelligence helps construction companies deliver a better experience to customers. Expectations have changed and the added AI efficiencies also help you deliver a higher level of customer satisfaction. As experience can tell us, this overall positive customer sentiment rolls directly into business growth.
Data and Analytics
Can a construction financial professional have too much data? Data in a raw and unstructured form doesn’t give you insights into your business. We know that data is crucial to decision making, but today’s number crunching reaches way beyond spreadsheets. Data fuels your ability to look at trends in the construction industry. It fuels your ability to drill into valuable insights for positive results, time and time again.
Many construction companies use business intelligence tools to extract data and detect patterns and trends that help them see where strengths and weaknesses lie. One of the biggest challenges that construction companies face is collecting payment. This inability makes it difficult to maintain a positive cash position. So accurate data helps financial professionals and business leaders more effectively manage accounts receivable and accounts payable. This will directly lead to less project delays and the ability to grow and bid on more projects.
The progressive construction company is dialed into the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that help track profitability and prevent jobs that hurt the bottom line. Data analytics also can help to reduce uncertainties in the overall bank balance. With so many different teams and subcontractors working on multiple projects, it can be difficult to see your company’s overall financial position. When data is filtered into one system, you reduce uncertainties and keep your finances in the black.
While the construction industry has traditionally been slow to adopt technology, more companies than ever are investing in these areas to cement a culture of growth and health for their companies. As many other accountants and finance professionals in the construction industry can tell you, the earlier these technology trends are adopted, the more momentum you have to realize your true growth potential.