Digital transformation—in all its forms—has been a business talking point for over 30 years. But only in the last decade have organizations truly seen the value of a successful digital transformation strategy.
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However, many departments still face challenges when it comes to funding their digital transformation project. Accounting teams, in particular, have stood to be one of the top beneficiaries of a digital transformation initiative but still encounter pushback.
6 Challenges accountants face in digital transformation
As it stands today,
More often than not, issues rarely stem from the chosen technology but from a lack of strategy. Digital transformation success is only possible with a solid strategy and organizational buy-in.
There are several additional components outside of choosing new technology.
Below are the six main reasons accounting departments struggle to implement meaningful digital transformation.
1. Lack of a digital transformation strategy
Not having a strategy in place is the number one killer of a digital transformation initiative. Simply deciding to invest in artificial intelligence or advanced analytics isn't enough. It's essential to have an end-to-end plan that includes defining KPIs, training, implementation, and maintenance.
Ideally, this digital transformation framework should also support the core business strategy for an organization. Not only does this help increase the likelihood of buy-in and funding, but combining the overall business strategy with departmental goals makes accounting a major stakeholder.
2. No team buy-in
There should be buy-in from both the accounting and management teams. Accounting professionals should be confident that the strategy will improve their employee experience. At the same time, the management team will want estimates on how the digital transformation project will affect the bottom line.
To help both parties understand the potential benefits of the new digital experience, it can help to structure a narrative that compares the current, ineffective operations with the proposed changes. If possible, highlight estimated savings. If it's impossible to determine cost reductions, it’s better to showcase how the current system does not provide full visibility—making it impossible to properly budget and identify leaks.
When it comes to the accounting team, it's crucial to run the top candidates for new technology past the team. Get their feedback on demos or features. At the end of the day, it's the AR/AP team who will be using the new software.
3. Unremedied skill gaps
Next, not all employees will understand the new digital channel and may be reluctant to change manual processes. Designing training programs with incentives, whether through bonuses or paid time-off, can help reduce resistance to the new process. Furthermore, choosing technology vendors with a dynamic and accessible support team can help the accounting team feel taken care of if troubles arise.
4. Failing to factor in cybersecurity
With digitization comes new threats, mainly cyber attacks. Any digital transformation strategy should take cybersecurity into account for success. When choosing new technology, the team should consult with their IT department and potential vendors to review their cybersecurity standards and map out what an organization will be accountable for.
Keeping the IT team in the loop on the decision-making process ensures a comprehensive security strategy.
5. Changing too fast
Attempting to change an entire department at once is a recipe for disaster. Moving too fast can put too much pressure on employees, scramble the budget, and cause important steps to be skipped. For example, if a small business wants to automate its entire accounting department, it may be better to first start with a smaller section in AP or AR. Once that digital channel is set up and working appropriately, they can move to the next milestone.
For accounting departments, starting slow is especially important. Since accounting teams deal with individuals across departments and outside vendors, as well as work with sensitive data, the digital transformation project should be carefully mapped, tested, and optimized.
Ideally, accounting departments should start with the most labor-intensive manual processes first. This will free up time for future changes without hindering the regular workflow.
6. Poor support
Another potential issue can be a lack of accessible support. Implementing digital technology can come with an array of challenges—and an organization’s IT team can't figure out everything on their own.
Working with digital technology vendors that are accessible and provide regular support—from training to a help desk, can make a massive difference in customer and employee experience. An active support team builds trust between your organization and the vendor and helps accounting teams better adjust to the new processes.
Automate your digital transformation
With the right support and strategy, accomplishing digital transformation goals can be a cinch for any accounting team. At