The Pros and Cons of Digital Accounting

Keeping track of important purchases, expenses, and employee payments is an important part of running a business, and as the world continues to shift toward digitalization, there are a number of businesses that have turned to digital accounting.

What Is Computerized Accounting?

Digital accounting is a method of tracking, transferring, and storing financial information in an efficient format. 

Contrary to popular belief, it does not nullify the importance of an accountant or financial expert by automating the entire process (although it is capable of some automation); instead, it simplifies and streamlines their workload by conducting all accounting transactions in an electronic environment.

Pros of Digital Accounting

Digital accounting has been around for some time, and most major businesses rely on at least some degree of computerized accounting to manage their finances, review data and make business decisions.

As such, there are a number of benefits to consider:

Accuracy

One of the most appealing features of digital accounting is that it is not subject to human error. Accuracy in accounting is extremely important for keeping business records, and automated software is not only efficient but also highly accurate in this regard.

Manually inputting numbers onto a spreadsheet is a nightmare, and making mistakes is inevitable for humans when sorting through data. 

Even a small error, or the reversing of two numbers, can create a massive problem, and digital accounting largely eliminates this worry by ensuring that all compiled data is accurate.

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Speed

For businesses trying to run a proverbial tight ship, getting things done as quickly and efficiently as possible is important. 

Compared to manually inputting numbers, digital accounting is considerably faster. As it has the capability to automate some processes and often proves to be more efficient, a computerized accounting system is ideal for business owners.

Accessibility

One of the biggest downsides to paper accounting is that the accountant needs to have access to all the relevant documents, paperwork, statements, and other financial information to move any numbers around. 

Digital accounting has a clear advantage when it comes to accessibility, since many online accounting services are web-based, meaning that users need only have a stable internet connection to log on and view their financial data.

This accessibility also allows accountants the flexibility to review data, run reports, and work from home where necessary.

Scalability

Another important benefit of digital accounting is that it accommodates growing businesses. For someone just starting out, managing accounts accurately isn’t too difficult. 

However, as the business grows over time, keeping track of a bunch of different numbers becomes more difficult and potentially expensive. Digital accounting is a simpler solution for growing business entrepreneurs.

Security

Online accounting services include advanced security features that protect business account data with access control, data encryptions, and network protection, making them some of the safest resources a business can use online.

Cost Efficiency for Large Businesses

For many businesses, it’s all about the bottom line. It costs significantly less to use a digital subscription for online accounting than to spend money on a myriad of office supplies, especially for larger businesses that have a great deal of complex accounting to do.

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Automation

Digital accounting is an important part of business reports, which is where online accounting shines. Many online subscription services that monitor finances can also run automated reports, allowing business owners quick access to information about different departments and access to financial information.

Cons of Digital Accounting

Digital accounting sees a lot of use in businesses, but it does come with some risks and downsides that should be considered before converting to a fully digitalized system.

Hardware Requirements

Most people switch to digital accounting because they already have the prerequisite hardware to install the necessary programs and reliable internet service to use digital accounting programs. 

For businesses that don’t have computers or reliable internet, there are a lot of upfront costs to consider just for the privilege of using a digital accounting system.

Of course, the computer, internet service, and other associated hardware all need to be maintained and run the risk of malfunctioning. If the computer isn’t working or the internet is down, there’s simply no accessing that financial data.

Training Expenses

Another downside of digital accounting worth considering is the upfront cost to train employees to use the service or the expense of hiring a professional. Online accounting subscription services aren’t particularly difficult to use, but they will take some getting used to. 

For people familiar with computers, the service will seem intuitive and straightforward, while those with little computer experience will have more trouble navigating the program and find it difficult to manage. 

While the end result may be more efficient, a business may have to struggle through several months of an awkward transition phase before getting the hang of it.

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Higher Costs for Small Businesses

For large businesses, there’s no doubt that digital accounting is less expensive, given the sheer amount of paperwork they would have to wade through otherwise. 

When it comes to startup businesses, however, there’s something of a gray area surrounding the cost efficiency of digital accounting, and the only real answer is that it varies from business to business.

Smaller businesses may not benefit financially from a web service to manage their finances, especially considering the expense of a professional accountant familiar with the software to run it. 

With that in mind, it’s certainly a shrewd business practice to consider the input cost of getting the right equipment, program, and employees to manage the costs of running a digital accounting service. Paperwork may be more laborious, but for smaller businesses, it might well be cheaper.

The Bottom Line

There are a lot of mixed feelings about digital accounting in the business world, but it’s fair to say that computerized online accounting services are the way of the future. For businesses that need large-scale accounting management, going paperless is almost always a better option, as it reduces the risk of human error and improves efficiency.

For smaller businesses, however, paper pushing might be more tedious but can result in some significant savings.

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