Payroll automation has the potential to expedite accountancy practice growth, according to experts who spoke during a recent webinar held by Accountancy Age.
In October 2022, Accountancy Age – in partnership with Modulr, hosted a webinar entitled “Making payroll profitable: How digital transformation can remove complexities, mitigate risk, and add value.”
The webinar was moderated by Antonnet Botha and featured expert speakers Tom Kelly, strategic lead for accounting and payroll at Modulr; Neil Manuel, payroll manager at Monahans; and Jonathan Stobart, events and partnership manager at Bright.
The speakers discussed the importance of automation in payroll services and how it can greatly improve the efficiency of the finance function. Modulr’s Kelly explained that automating anything that is repetitive is essential to reduce the risk of error.
He also pointed out that many accounting practices still rely on spreadsheets, which are inherently difficult to manage, especially when supporting multiple clients.
Bright’s Stobart added that automation can help accountancy practices grow by freeing up time and allowing practitioners to focus on more valuable aspects of the business.
He also highlighted the importance of using technology to take on some of the processing workloads to become more profitable in a challenging market.
Challenges with automation
The panellists also discussed where accounting practices are struggling the most in terms of automation. Monahans’ Manuel emphasised the importance of preparation and research before automating payroll systems. He advised attendees to have a plan in terms of when to onboard clients and to do their research on different software providers.
The speakers also touched on how technology is improving the accuracy of automation. Stobart explained that by utilizing automation and integration, accounting practices can expand their offering beyond just processing payroll.
He also highlighted the importance of partnerships between software providers to create an efficient workflow that utilises “intelligent technology to mitigate unnecessary administration”.
Securing the right technology vendor
The panellists also discussed how to choose the right software provider and how to get buy-in from external stakeholders. Kelly advised attendees to think about the end-to-end process and to be clear about what they want to achieve from an objective perspective. He also emphasized the importance of considering how automation can enable the practice to scale or become more profitable.
Manuel added that it is important “to do your homework” and not rush into anything while being clear about what the organisation and client base need. He also emphasised that clients are the “bread and butter “of any business and it is important to ensure that the automation process does not cause any issues for them.
Be not afraid of automation
One of the key takeaways from the webinar was the importance of addressing concerns from staff about automation potentially taking over their positions within the organisation. Stobart addressed this issue by stating that technology is mainly used to do the more routine elements of the service, which can free up time for staff to take on more interesting and engaging tasks.
He also emphasised that automation could make people’s working lives better by removing the boring elements of the job and allowing them to expand and have a greater impact on the business.
Another important topic discussed during the webinar was the process of onboarding clients to automated payroll systems. Manuel stressed the importance of having a plan and doing research on different software providers to ensure a smooth transition for clients.
He also pointed out that moving all clients over at the same time is the ideal scenario but is not always feasible.
Automation in practice
The panellists also provided valuable tips for attendees to implement in their own practices. Kelly advised attendees to start by automating anything that is repetitive, while Stobart suggested writing down processes to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies and exploring solutions to assist with those issues.
He also highlighted the importance of utilising integrations to make sure that data is “flowing seamlessly” throughout the firm and different solutions, citing the integration between BrightPay and Modulr as an example.
Overall, the webinar emphasized the importance of automation in payroll services for accountancy practices looking to grow and become more efficient. By automating repetitive tasks and utilizing technology to improve the accuracy of payroll processing, practices can free up time and resources to focus on other areas of the business and expand their offerings to clients.
As automation continues to be a key trend in the industry, it is essential for accountancy practices to explore the benefits of digital transformation and implement automation solutions to improve efficiency and profitability.
To watch the full discussion, click here: Making payroll profitable: How digital transformation can remove complexities, mitigate risk, and add value (on24.com)