Should accounting tasks be confined to the Finance team?

Traditionally, departments within an organisation are confined by their day-to-day tasks. There were some great advantages to this, as everyone knew exactly who should be doing what. Marketing were in charge of x, Finance did y, and HR did z.

Unfortunately, the real world doesn’t work this way. With the staggering advances in technology, the world has become a busy place indeed. Information is shared and received quicker and more easily than ever before. We now demand the information we want, and we expect to get it quickly. This means each department needs to work a little differently.

Where does the problem lie?
In order to get all the information we want, we still need people to provide this. So when it comes to acquiring accurate and up to date financial information quickly, there is often a bit of a struggle.

Finance has to request expenses, updated budgets and POs from various departments throughout the organisation. Once all this is collected, it’s usually entered manually or imported into the accounting system. With manual entry, there’s always the risk of duplicate data, wrong data, or worse of all – missing data.

When it comes towards month-end, all the managers, senior managers and directors need a report to review performance over the last month or quarter. So, what happens when all this work needs to be done with limited resource? You experience a bottleneck. People get impatient, waiting for their report to come through and by the time it finally gets delivered, it may be a week or two out of date!

Devolved Accounting
This is where devolved accounting steps in. Departmental managers are already expected to update and manage their budgets, but they don’t update the finance system – that’s usually left to the finance department. But with devolved accounting, other departments are encouraged to update the system themselves.

Some people may feel intimidated by accounting software, but there’s no need. There is accounting software available on the market that is designed specifically for devolved use. This software will do all the same functions that you expect it to, but on top of that it’s easy and intuitive to use, so non-financial staff won’t be confused.

Giving other departments access to the software serves two purposes – not only can they update their finances themselves, but senior managers and directors can help themselves to the information they need.

Real-time reports, whenever and wherever you are!
Now this is where things get really clever! The biggest gain for those who adopt devolved accounting is the ability to quickly access all the information they need.

With all the departments entering their own finances into the finance system, all the data is accurate and up to date. Now all you need is a simple way to view this information.

Reporting dashboards can be set up and even customised depending on the level of the user. For example, the MD can view a dashboard with only the top-level information that he/she wants. So everything they need is available to them at a glance. For more in-depth reports, an automated service can be added to your accounting software that collects information on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis. It then generates an automatic report and emails it direct to your inbox.

If you benefit from cloud accounting as well, then these dashboards could be seen from anywhere, on your laptop, tablet or your phone. This is especially useful if you have branches or offices based around the UK, meaning you need to travel frequently. Online accounting is already the norm with browser based accounting systems, but mobile accounting is the next step.

Hurrah! The finance team are free!
Things have moved on over the last few decades and as we’ve explained, people’s job roles are evolving as the world changes. By asking other departments to take charge of the smaller finance tasks, the finance department now have time to focus on more pressing issues like strategy and planning, enabling your business to be driven forward and to grow.

The world is changing, and so should businesses. By delegating appropriate tasks across the organisation, all departments could benefit, not just the finance team.