For any association, your accounting department plays a vital role in your day-to-day operations. Accountants provide insights into the policy and governance of associations and work to ensure the association’s mission, vision, and regulations are met. When there is a lack of internal control systems, inefficiencies can arise in the association, leading to a multitude of issues. Today, there are many useful tools associations can employ to help solve for this. The emergence of automated tools can help reduce many common errors and disruptions that occur due to human error, security threats, and the ever-changing workforce. One of the greatest automated tools for busy accounting departments has been the emergence of Enterprise Resource Planning software (ERP).
Enterprise Resource Planning Software helps manage an Association’s financials and reporting. It also assists with daily operations and human resource processes. For financial reporting, ERP accounting software has three main benefits for any association’s financial department: reducing manual labour and errors, providing financial data security, and increasing mobility.
Read What Are the Financial Responsibilities of an Association Board? for tips on how to help association leaders understand their financial responsibilities.
Reducing Manual Labour and Errors
Manual data entry is always prone to errors; financial and accounting data is no different. Often monotony can set in, causing the individual to lose focus and press wrong keys, leading to erroneous entries. Additionally, having data spread out across various databases and systems that don’t communicate with each other can lead to redundancy and errors. Having employees update the same file repeatedly for each system is time consuming. It could also lead to several varying versions of the same file existing. While such errors and systems commonly exist, incorrect or incomplete accounting data can negatively impact the quality of financial reports and cause significant impacts for any association. Thankfully, many of these human errors can be mitigated when the appropriate systems are in place.
ERP software places all financial data in one centralized system that can be accessed across your association. This leads to better collaboration between employees and saves valuable labour that can be spent performing other tasks. The errors caused by entering information by hand from paper or electronic files can be greatly reduced with the streamlining of entries and the automation features can set up regular payments, send out payment reminders and automated reports. In conjunction, it can save valuable time and reduce the chance for human error by a great deal.
Increased Financial Data Security
Seeing as financial data is always of a confidential nature, high levels of security protocol is necessary for data protection. Fortunately, any reliable ERP system comes equipped with multiple levels of security and strict protocols. ERP systems achieve this level of security through three avenues. First, they use multiple authentications for users to gain access to the system.
Second, most ERP systems make it very easy to restrict employee access to the processes and data relevant to their role. This ensures that confidential data is never seen by those who shouldn’t see it.
Third, their use of and reliance on automation provides its own security. Since the system relies on minimal interruption to complete its tasks, it helps speed detection when there is human interaction in the system where there shouldn’t be. Combined, all avenues of security protocols ensure you have a great deal of protection for your confidential financial data.
With the emergence of the ever-changing global workforce, long gone are the days of the office computer being the sole domain of ERP. The only place where its huge amounts of data and complex business functionalities would fit. Nowadays, it is common practice to have mobile and remote access to your ERP system. This increase in mobility allows for more accurate data capture and greater productivity. More accurate data capture is achieved when any transaction is entered and updated in the system in real time and visible to those who need it. Any transaction or update can be done instantaneously. It removes the need to re-type a transaction later into the office system. This mobility allows for better time management. It will also still catch duplicate entries, ensuring it’s not only convenient but accurate as well.
Greater productivity is achieved through mobility by ease of access. This enables employees to access every financial capability needed to continue working as if they were in the office. Allowing mobile access to ERP cuts down on paperwork and frees up time that would otherwise be spent on routine tasks.
For more information on software for associations, read my colleague’s article, Association Membership Management Systems.