Among them: The rise of connected accounting, a more intense focus on security, and automation acceleration

This past year saw a continuation of many of the trends that businesses, large and small faced in 2020, customers engaging with businesses virtually more and more, a mostly remote office workforce, and continued emphasis on cash flow. While the broader economy rose, 2021 brought with it a range of new challenges and trends as well, including the Great Resignation, more emphasis on cash management, and a global supply chain shortage.

As organizations navigate the roads ahead, here are four trends that will impact accounting teams in 2022 and beyond.

Hybrid Office is Here to Stay

As the COVID-19 pandemic showed companies, allowing staff to go remote is nothing to fear. For many organizations, allowing accounting teams the choice to be fully remote, in the office, or a combination (hybrid work model), has not only become a recruiting differentiator but a true cost saver. Recent studies show that 58% of staff expect remote working to be a permanent option.

In a hybrid office model, you might be working at home one day, heading into the office for a critical meeting the next day. At a time where 68% of American employees prefer flexibility in their office arrangements, hybrid or fully remote offices are here to stay.

A hybrid work environment will continue to evolve the needs in our homes and offices as well as the equipment required by staff. As more organizations embrace this model, accounting practices must progress with it. No longer can you rely on invoices sent through the mail to be received in a timely manner or received by the intended recipient. A move towards digitization is a must for accounting teams to thrive in 2022 and beyond!

As we enter into a world with more, permanent remote team members, security has to come into focus as well. with companies shifting to remote work since the pandemic began, they have become more vulnerable to attacks from hackers.

Enhanced Security = Safe Data

Security is of a paramount importance for accounting teams. Managing customers’ contact details, account level details and in some cases, access to checking and card numbers, ensuring safe transactions and interactions with customers is essential.

In 2020, security deficiencies cost businesses, large and small, nearly $1 Trillion. At a time when cyberattacks have become the fastest growing crime, organizations have to take notice. Beyond the obvious financial loss, cyberattacks can cost organizations, consumer data. In turn, subjecting organizations to strict regulations and costly settlements, as well as severe reputation damage.

Today, half of all corporate cyberattacks target small businesses, with the most common being phishing attacks. This being the case, businesses are starting to adopt and invest in comprehensive security awareness programs. Accounting teams need to take note of the new and sophisticated methods employed today. Common business email compromise attacks and phishing emails remain widespread, but they are growing to be more personalized based on geo-targeting.

One way midmarket organizations can mitigate phishing expeditions is by leveraging AR Automation. Through key protocols, like magic links and secure access, customers can go password free in a more secure (and convenient) way!

Automation is the Key to Unlock Financial Success

Manual accounting processes today are inefficient, relying heavily on email and spreadsheets to manage an organizations outstanding invoices and cash flow. The average accounting team is still using the same software stack from 2002, with a workflow that consists of emailing PDFs and spreadsheets back and forth to each other to be opened, read, and hand re-entered. A major way finance leaders can effectively develop efficiencies and implement cost savings is through workflow automation.

Automating the mostly manual and time-consuming processes in your accounting workflow will save your team time and improve efficiency. Time saved could be used for other more exciting and thought-provoking work.

AR automation can help to reduce problems, while improving efficiency and cash flow throughout your. From credit and invoicing to collections, analysis and reporting, automation is the gas that powers the finance engine.

Through automation, AR collections workflows can be streamlined with automated email reminders based on customer payment habits. Electronic invoicing and electronic payment options reduce the Order to Cash (O2C) cycle, errors and late payments helping to eliminate the need for time consuming follow-up calls. At the same time, customer online portals make it easy for customers to pay electronically, obtain document copies, and report disputes for faster resolution.

The Rise of Connected Accounting

Every business activity results in the sharing of accounting information. An organization’s AR balance needs to match the buyer’s AP balance. For every invoice received, both buyer and seller should have a matching record in their computer system.

Today, the only way accounting teams can share these details is to email PDFs back and forth to each other, and open them, read them, and manually enter them into whatever their ERP system is. In 2022, these systems will begin to automate and connect a more powerful clip than ever.

A 2019 survey by Sage, indicates that 90% of accountants see a growing cultural shift in the industry landscape. “This shift is driving significant changes in hiring practices, business services and attitudes toward emerging technologies across the globe.”

As organizations embrace this cultural shift, more accounting teams will connect together, allowing for a connected access to invoices and payment platforms, creating a more efficient, connected process.

As we enter 2022, one thing is certain, while many things remain constant for accounting teams. Shifts in technology, efficiencies, and connectedness will continue to reshape how businesses reimagine workflows.

Award-winning Lockstep connects the world’s finance teams so they can work better together. Founded in 2019, Lockstep eliminates cash traps and leaks created from manual synchronization of books between B2B trading partners. High-performance companies large and small run their collections with Lockstep. Visit Lockstep.io for more information.