According to one recent report, seven in ten finance teams spend up to 10 hours each week, or 520 hours a year, on manual accounts payable (AP) tasks that could be automated. From invoice processing to payment reconciliation, these tasks consume a good portion of employees’ time.

As a result, many executives are looking for ways to streamline these tasks using modern technology, including machine learning. 

Machine learning in accounting isn’t exactly new, but it’s changing every day. For example, many enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendors are now leveraging machine learning within their accounting applications to deliver more value to their customers.

Today, we’re sharing how machine learning works in accounting and the key benefits you can expect. 

Selection & Process Improvement Case Study

In helping the client get its project back on track, one of our primary focus areas was decreasing their customization needs by improving their processes to align with the system's best practices.

The Paradox of Accounting: Advanced Employees, Outdated Systems

Financial professionals are frustrated. The internal systems they’re using at work were once considered state-of-the-art, but they’re quickly becoming obsolete.

Many departments still rely on paper-based processes and massive spreadsheets to organize data. This approach isn’t only inefficient, but it can also be inaccurate. Human entry can lead to human error, and in this field, even the slightest decimal shift can have major consequences.

The irony in using outdated technology is that many employees within finance departments are quite tech-savvy. They are yearning for more modern technology and are just waiting for their boss to take the leap and implement modern enterprise software.

AI-powered finance features within ERP platforms have the ability to free up teams to focus on more strategic initiatives and less on repetitive ones. This capability is thanks in large part to AI innovation, specifically advancements in machine learning and natural language processing (NLP). 

4 Benefits of Machine Learning in Accounting ERP

What are the benefits of machine learning within ERP systems? Specifically, what do finance professionals have to gain? Let’s look at a few of the top reasons why this is a smart move.

1. Quicker, More Accurate Forecasts

Data reporting and analysis are two of the most important roles that an accounting team performs. Much of the time, they’re forced to cobble together information from disparate sources. Then, they must mine it for actionable insights, which can take an incredible amount of time. 

With machine learning, this task can be handled much more quickly and efficiently. The ERP software automatically cleans data as it comes in from both internal and external sources. Then, it delivers accurate reports and forecasts based on real-time updates. 

Organizations need access to this information to perform a variety of tasks, from cash flow predictions to inventory management. While datasets have traditionally been too large and complex, this isn’t an issue when you’re using modern technology. 

2. Fewer Manual Tasks

Freed of the burden of performing mundane tasks, accounting professionals can focus on work that drives their business forward. 

Think about how many administrative decisions your employees make that require little more than a “yes” or “no” response. With very little training, an AI-powered ERP solution can learn how to understand and answer those inquiries. This is especially helpful in the field of regulatory compliance.

3. More Collaborative and Innovative Workplace

What happens when accounting team members are suddenly freed from the manual work that once kept them busy all day? Suddenly, they’re available to collaborate on larger projects, help solve company problems, and participate in other mission-critical initiatives. 

This means the financial arm of the organization is poised to become more powerful and innovative than ever. 

4. Easier Client and Partner Communications

The benefits of AI in accounting ERP extend beyond in-house teams. With natural language processing (NLP), companies can conduct more meaningful conversations with outside stakeholders, including customers and trading partners.

Instead of tasking an employee with writing and sending communication to these parties, an AI-driven ERP platform can take care of the legwork. Many accountants become bogged down with simple communication-driven tasks, such as reaching out to a customer about an unpaid invoice. Instead of filling their inbox with back-and-forth messages, they can rely on enterprise software to accomplish the task via its AI and NLP capabilities.

Understanding How Roles May Shift

Implementing AI will undoubtedly mean changing how your accounting workforce operates. Expect a learning curve as your employees discover how to navigate the new tools at their fingertips.

In addition, expect resistance to change. Employees have many fears when it comes to new technology and processes.

For example, some workers may fear that automation will someday make their role obsolete. (Fortunately, this isn’t the case for now. In fact, you may find that you need to add entirely new roles to your team.)

Whether you’re flattening the learning curve or mitigating change resistance, a comprehensive organizational change management plan can help you start managing the transition now instead of waiting until implementation. 

Embrace AI and Machine Learning in Accounting ERP

AI-driven technologies are enabling organizations to automate more and more of their accounting processes.

As you consider the application of machine learning in accounting ERP, think of all the ways this technology could benefit your business. What could your teams accomplish with the freedom that these capabilities bring? How could a more productive, efficient workforce help you achieve your organizational goals?

Before you begin the software selection process, let’s talk. Our ERP consulting company understands where this technology is headed and how organizations can best leverage it. Contact us below for a free consultation.

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