CIOs can play a role in improving accounting technology

accounting softwareCorporate chief information officers today are asked to do more than simply improve the information technology at their businesses. Progressive companies are looking for CIOs who will do more than just streamline the IT department – they want creative, forward-thinking executives who will make grand, sweeping improvements to the overall productivity of their companies. The best CIOs create change across the board.

Take accounting, for example. Managing money for a business is a task that’s often rigidly siloed – a typical corporation has a bookkeeping department and a chief financial officer who works to maintain the health of the corporate coffers, but rarely do executives from other departments mettle in the process. There’s room for improvement if companies are willing to change this model.

There’s actually great value in the possibility of CIOs working to improve accounting practices, but that value can only be uncovered if corporate executives are willing to think outside the box and try different approaches. If businesses are willing to let their CIOs examine the way they manage their money and look to improve it by making changes in infrastructure management, the benefits could be numerous.

One way to improve accounting is to take bookkeeping information and move it into the cloud. By relying less on paper files and more on web-based data to encapsulate financial information, companies can become more efficient with the way they handle money matters, and they can also facilitate easier communication and collaboration across multiple departments. Imagine if one executive in marketing wants to work with another in public relations on a big project, but they need to make sure they have the funding. In a prior time, they may have needed to root through file folders full of printed financial documents in cabinets, looking to hunt down the right information – the effort would be confusing and time-consuming, with no guarantee of success. If the same information were stored online, however, the process would be seamless.

When will the cloud move happen?
This is just one example of how a CIO can make sweeping changes to the effectiveness of a company’s infrastructure. Sadly, though, it’s an angle that often goes underappreciated. According to Global Banking and Finance, there’s still a lag with companies adopting cloud-based financial software. The news source cited survey data to support this claim – Thomson Reuters recently polled 1,300 accounting firms and found startlingly low numbers on cloud adoption. Only 11 percent of firms are using such solutions currently, and only 23 percent say they’re thinking of making the upgrade within the next 12 months.

Andrew Flanagan, managing director of the professional market for the tax and accounting business of Thomson Reuters, says the transition to better accounting infrastructure must happen, and it inevitably will happen soon enough.

“The main reason practices are looking to move to cloud-based solutions is to allow employees to work remotely – for example, from client premises and to enable use of new mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets,” Flanagan said. “In the years to come, it seems inevitable that virtually all software and data will be in the cloud, mirroring the move from paper to electronic data – a new way of working that has occurred over the last few decades, but with the increasing pace of technology development it is likely to happen faster.”

There are a number of ways that businesses can make the transition into the cloud. David Linthicum of InfoWorld notes that software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (SaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) are all viable strategies for improving a company’s tech infrastructure. Soon enough, these will all be the norm. In the accounting world, though, that transition has been a slow one.

Marie Larsen
Marie is a writer for CIOs.com. She has an educational background in languages and literature. She covers IT trends and executive technology management topics for the company.