The pressure rises to close the books faster


While automation and artificial intelligence have already significantly increased the speed of accounting processes, a recent study from Sage reports that, when it comes to closing the books at least, professionals are experiencing rising pressure to do so faster and faster.

“An overwhelming 93% of our respondents are under pressure to close the books faster, despite the availability of cloud accounting solutions that offer time-saving features such as built-in automation and AI,” said the report’s executive summary.

Well over half the respondents (60%), said that if they could close the books faster, they would spend more time on analysis and strategic planning.

The report said accountants are not taking this pressure lying down. The survey found that 40% of organizations have already adopted new technology to help close faster, nearly double last year’s 21%; meanwhile, it was found that 87% have a cloud-based or hybrid accounting solution, with a further 50% planning to move into the cloud within the next two years. This is part of a move towards automation, with 60% saying that they “absolutely or strongly agree” that it would save time at the month end.

For those already experienced with automation, the most popular time-savers were found to be templates for journal entries, prebuilt dashboards and reports, and having an automated closed checklist that keeps track of close activities. Not far behind is the ability to have seamless data integration between core financials and other systems such as payroll. With all these gains, it is not surprising that many organizations are adding automation into their accounting and financial processes.

The data came from a survey of 1,400 professionals. About a third of respondents came from companies with revenues between $25 million to $249 million, and almost 50% of the respondents have titles of accounting or finance director and above.

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