8 time-saving accounting automation ideas

Increased efficiency, simpler management of remote teams, and increased value for your clients—these are just some of the benefits workflow automation will bring to your accounting firm.

By automating manual and repetitive tasks, you’re unlocking opportunities to upskill your team, diversify your offering and build stronger client relationships.

For most, this knowledge is nothing new. You know that you can and should automate more. But what exactly you can automate, and how to do it is another story.

Here are 8 accounting automation ideas to help grow your firm, and streamline your processes:

Accounting automation idea 1: Automated expense processing

These are some of the more basic yet useful accounting automation options.

By using systems like Dext and Hubdoc, you’re able to eliminate manual receipt data entry entirely.

Automated expense processing works like this:

  1. Your client downloads the relevant app to their smartphone

  2. When they receive receipts, they take photos of them via the app

  3. The images are processed in the app and the relevant data is extracted to your cloud accounting software

By doing so, you save hours on manual low-value date entry tasks. You will then be able to divert these resources to high-value, output-focused tasks.

Accounting automation idea 2: Automated payroll

Payroll is a series of repetitive steps that recur periodically—a prime function to automate. On top of that, payroll is a complex process, with many associated obligations including taxes, overtime rates, etc.

By automating payroll, you’re eliminating complexity, reducing errors and freeing up your time of repetitive tasks.

Tools like Gusto and Wagepoint automate payroll processing, including time tracking, automated reminders, and leave requests.

Accounting automation idea 3: Automated client onboarding

Your client onboarding process is all about gathering the necessary information from your client, as well as training them on your systems, and setting clear expectations around roles and communication styles.

Having an automated workflow for this purpose will ensure each step is covered every single time. 

Tools like Karbon can help you create your own automated onboarding process, including automatic emails and follow-ups to clients. 

And you can integrate Karbon with GoProposal or Ignition to create a seamless client onboarding process, automate key steps, and free up your team’s time to focus on high-value activities—without any wasted time or the risk of forgotten tasks.

You can even use Karbon’s Client Onboarding Best Practice Checklist template for a pre-built structure that you can customize for your own firm.

Automating this process means you’re not getting stuck on low-value tasks. And the quicker you complete the onboarding, the quicker you can actually service your clients.

Accounting automation idea 4: Automated new staff member onboarding

Just like onboarding a new client, staff onboarding involves a high degree of information-sharing, traditionally viewed as quite a manual process. You need to collect information from them, they need to be set up on different systems and there are lots of forms for them to complete.

All of this can be standardized in a template to ensure every step is completed for every new employee. Data can be collected using a form through a tool such as Typeform, and often, that can be sent directly to other systems through direct integrations or via Zapier, such as sending payroll information to Xero.

But by automating the onboarding process, you’re able to standardize it, ensuring each new hire has the same experience—consistency and clarity shouldn’t be overlooked during this stage.

Accounting automation idea 5: Banking automation

Client banking is an ongoing pain point for accounting firms with broken feeds, siloed data, and access challenges. 

Transitioning your clients to connected, collaborative banking such as Relay Financial can allow you to automate part of this process and save time for every client. 

Benefits include a single portal to access all your clients’ banking, reliable bank feeds that integrate with your ledger, less back and forth with your clients, higher quality data to support new services and more scalability for existing workflows.

Accounting automation idea 6: Client reminders 

The client chase is real. It's time-consuming and manual, often involving many emails back and forth between you and your clients to share information and collect documentation.

By automating specific client interactions with tools like Karbon, you’ll keep your inbox clear, and you’ll have the right documents exactly where you need them. On top of that, you can automate client emails and follow up reminders on a customizable schedule.

This is a significant time-saver.

Accounting automation idea 7: Workflow updates 

Some projects require lots of tasks and subtasks, but that doesn’t mean you physically need to complete each task. Having visibility over the tasks that are in progress or overdue is a great way to manage workloads, but the physical step of marking them as ‘In Progress’ or ‘Overdue’ is time wasted. This can be automated.

If you’re already using Karbon, you can implement Automators, which are small ‘if this, then that’ rules to keep your workflows ticking away, giving you clarity across all that you’re working on.

Collaborating with a colleague on a project and you’ve completed your preliminary tasks, meaning you can’t move on until they complete theirs? You can create an Automator that will mark the work as ‘Waiting’. And it will remain that way until your colleague checks off their tasks—then it will revert back to ‘In Progress’ or any other customized status you create.

Recommended reading: 6 essential recipes to automate your workflows in Karbon

Accounting automation idea 8: Automated sales processes

Sales automation deals with the time-consuming tasks performed by your Sales team. These might occur periodically or they might be triggered by a specific event. Either way, steps need to be taken to follow up, touch base, book meetings, etc.

By automating these steps, you’re increasing efficiency and productivity. This frees up your Sales team’s time to continue chasing leads and locking deals.

Many accounting firms are automating almost their entire sales process, from managing leads at the top of their funnel to onboarding new clients. This frees up their staff responsible for sales and business development to actually have meaningful conversations with prospects.

Consider this example of an automated sales process:

  1. On your website, you create a form to collect information from a prospect. 

  2. The information entered into the form can then be sent via Zapier to Karbon where they can be created as a contact

  3. The information is also sent to Mailchimp where they can be sent an automated email. 

  4. That email can include a Calendly link to book time for a Zoom meeting. 

  5. After the call takes place, a proposal can be sent using GoProposal or Ignition.

  6. When that is signed, the workflow can automatically be triggered to begin in Karbon.

Time is saved by automating the manual processes in each of these steps, allowing your Sales team to do what matters most—building client relationships.

Save time with accounting automation

Optimizing your team’s time is crucial in making sure your accounting firm can grow. By using these accounting automation ideas, you’re simply unlocking your team’s time, enabling them to divert their efforts. 

Not all these suggestions will be relevant to your practice right now. Consider an automation roadmap so you can implement these optimizations over time to help your firm reach its full potential.

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Jess Marcello
Managing Editor, Karbon Magazine

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