The Buzz Magazine
The Buzz Magazine

Accounting practice in the brave, new normal

By Gerhard Hartman, Vice President, Medium Business, Sage Africa & Middle East

Accounting practice in the brave, new normal
Accounting practice in the brave, new normal

Accounting practice in the brave, new normal

An accountant’s new normal is a state of constant and rapid flux

The rules are shifting all the time and reflect how the government may choose to pitch its loan programmes

In this swiftly evolving environment, a whole host of challenges emerge every day

For instance, to provide a cash flow projection tomorrow, accountants need access to a year’s worth of bookkeeping data today

They also need the time and resources to work through that data quickly and efficiently  

Fortunately, technology is helping accountants automate business functions and collaborate to provide a faster, more agile and varied consultative service

Now more than ever, those that fail to embrace technology run the risk of falling behind

Learning from the disruptors

You don’t need to be disruptive to be the disruptor. Across multiple industries, disruption tends to follow a familiar pattern

Incumbent players prove to be clumsy, resistant to change and fail to adopt new capabilities

In short, they gradually stop delivering the value customers seek and are usurped by more innovative and agile competitors or new market entrants 

Accountants aren’t experiencing the same level of competition from technologically agile startups as some other industries

However, there is still significant customer-driven disruption

As customers struggle to adapt and maintain continuity post-COVID-19, they’re increasingly turning to accountants for advice on a range of issues, from acquiring government grants to generating new sources of revenue

To rebuild a practice in this new environment, accountants should learn key lessons about disruption: it’s not just about delivering a better service than your competitors, but also providing new offerings that others aren’t

This can be achieved through assessing market conditions, altering business practices and, most importantly, understanding customers and what will really help them

To give customers targeted, expert advice, accountants should understand every aspect of their business

This level of understanding can only come from strong visibility and accessibility to customer data

The first step to disruption is to embrace the cloud

Moving customer data to the cloud makes it far more accessible and easier to analyse

Accountants can review the data in real-time, improving customer service and the speed of delivery

Cloud accounting tools also make it easier to create reports, view business finances, and model business plans and outcomes for customers.

With the right technology, accountants are empowered to master their customers’ data

Armed with fresh insight, they can then provide targeted advice to fill the vacuum and introduce new services like consultancy on business transformation

The first to finish

However, customer understanding is only half the battle. In the new normal, the pace of change is accelerating at an unprecedented rate

Decisions made under pressure can have major repercussions for a business in the years to come

Accountants must invest seriously in strengthening process efficiency to deliver at the speed required and minimise human error or inefficiencies that may creep in during manual processing.

In the current landscape, accountants don’t have the time for staff to spend on repetitive and tedious data management tasks

Yet, many accountants continue to expend precious energy and resources on classification and cleaning. Instead, they should look to robotic process automation (RPA), and use software and AI or machine-learning capabilities to handle high-volume repeatable tasks

AI can review millions of transactions that would traditionally have taken hours to achieve manually – spotting anomalies and making recommendations instantly

Automated solutions are innovative and immune to human error, while improving accuracy and delivery time

The best thing is that AI-embedded solutions will only get better with time

Gradually, less intervention will be needed by the practice’s human resources

AI can also become more proactive in assigning resources because it adapts to the flow of customer data in the business

Technology is the true enabler of our time, helping accountants seize the opportunity to be change-makers rather than mere spectators

Adopting cloud technology gives accountants the ability to remotely manage their customer data, accounts, and people all in one place

AI completes the circle, helping to streamline data entry and admin processes through automated invoicing systems

As more processes continue to become automated, accountants will have more time for what’s most important – building relationships with customers and meeting their needs


Sage is the global market leader for technology that provides small and medium businesses with the visibility, flexibility and efficiency to manage finances, operations and people

With our partners, Sage is trusted by millions of customers worldwide to deliver the best cloud technology and support

Our years of experience mean that our colleagues and partners understand how to serve our customers and communities through the good, and more challenging times

We are here to help, with practical advice, solutions, expertise and insight

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