Tackling the toll of repetitive tasks

Repetitive job
By Alec Mackenzie, The CA magazine

18 January 2015

Study suggests monotonous workloads are harming the accountancy profession.

High staff turnover and a looming skills shortage in the accountancy profession can be partly attributed to repetitive workloads, according to new research from finance software provider Blackline.

It pointed to the emergence of what has been dubbed ‘Repetitive Task Injury’ (RTI), as finance departments fail to automate monotonous tasks that can lead to decreased productivity.

Blackline’s survey of Financial Decision Makers (FDMs), including CFOs and financial directors, found that over half (58%) believe the industry has high staff turnover, and as a result, faces high training costs. Further, nearly two-thirds (64%) admitted that accountants often leave jobs because they are not happy with the manual, repetitive workload, and three in five (61%) FDMs agreed accountants leave the profession because they are not given the best tools to do their jobs effectively.

This outlook comes following a recent study by HR consulting firm Randstad that found the UK faces a shortfall of 10,200 qualified accountants by 2050 due to skills shortages, an ageing workforce and restrictive migration policy.

To turn the tide, Blackline is encouraging firms to look towards technology to automate and accelerate key accounting and finance processes with greater efficiency. This is something that ICAS believes will bring other benefits too.

Interpreting data

“CAs have much more to offer businesses than doing routine paper-shuffling tasks,” said Jeremy Clarke, Practice Support Specialist at ICAS.

“Technology can help speed up routine processing and deliver more accurate information sooner.  Whether as in-house accountants or external advisers, what CAs bring to the table are their skills in interpreting data and helping business managers make sound decisions based on those numbers.”

Mario Spanicciati, BlackLine chief strategy officer said: “RTI is a growing concern for the accounting industry. The next generation of accountants are digital natives with advanced technology at their fingertips. In order to retain staff and entice the next generation into the profession, finance departments need to move away from outdated manual processes.

"Investing in the right technology to streamline manual reporting and give accountants more time to work strategically will not only drive staff productivity, but it will also help businesses attract and retain talent that is increasingly in short supply.”

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