All too often, companies view accounts as simply a necessary admin function, when in reality the finance system holds the key to business information that will drive the organisation forward. An isolated finance department is self-defeating.
Few companies have the vision to integrate their accounting function and create a culture that enables more effective collaboration between finance staff and the rest of the organisation.
Properly managed, this collaboration will deliver relevant and timely information on demand, whenever the business needs it.
Companies should be looking to embrace the benefits associated with external accounts entries. The technology exists to enable non-financial staff to input accounting information in real time without requiring any knowledge of accounting practices.
In addition, many accounts postings can now be input automatically. XML technology, for example, provides cost-effective communication between applications via email.
XML can be used to exchange orders and invoices securely, with the potential for automatic integrity checking.
This automation also extends to web input, so that orders placed online can be transferred automatically to the accounts system. In addition, remote offices and field staff can also take advantage of web-based input.
The implications of this cross-organisational collaboration are reductions in tedious work in accounts and an overall cost reduction.
It removes the need for manual re-keying, reducing errors and releasing staff to concentrate on generating revenue. The finance team is free to consider strategic issues and add value.
Furthermore, business managers and directors no longer see accounts information appearing in a rigid format from a black hole.
Instead, they can receive meaningful business information from accounts and answer their own queries in real time. Critically, this information also provides customers and shareholders with a true picture of the company's performance.
In these difficult trading conditions, the accounts department has the ability to deliver a competitive advantage.
But organisations must overcome traditional finance isolation and embrace external data input and real-time processes, and look to change historical methods of operation.
Richard Pierce is managing director of PS Financials.
The charter has pulled together the biggest names in tech in an unprecedented attempt to address the tech industry's lack of diversity. Tom Wright asks how it plans to do it
Highlander MD Steve Brown tells CRN about the skills he learned on the pitch and brought to the boardroom
Reports suggest Dell is pursuing a straightforward IPO, contradicting existing plans to buy out tracking stock holders
Analysts predict upturn in PC market next year, but 2018 to remain plagued by components shortages