business co-workers using digital tablet and cell phone within an office
Accounting
Technology

Make your accounting life easier with these 5 tech tools

From new apps to powerful software, technology is helping accountants stay organized, productive and secure

business co-workers using digital tablet and cell phone within an officeAccounting professionals are easing their work days with apps and software that streamline process and make it possible to get more done on the go. (Caiaimage/Robert Daly/Getty)

Technology is not only changing the way we do business, it’s transforming the accounting profession. To become better financial leaders, CPAs must evolve and use every new tool available. 

Luckily, new apps and software are more intuitive and user-friendly than ever—so whether you’re a Luddite or an early-adopter, these tools are accessible. Here are a few ways you can use the new tech to make your accounting life a bit easier.   

1) TURN YOUR PHOTO INTO A SPREADSHEET

The almighty Excel spreadsheet is perhaps the most important tool for accountants, able to process complicated data sets and communicate large amounts of information. And now you can make a spreadsheet in record time using only your phone’s camera. With the Microsoft Excel app for either iOS or Android, you can use The Data from Picture tool to convert words and numbers on a sheet of paper into an Excel spreadsheet. Simply snap a photo and the tool uses Excel’s online image-recognition engine to convert the image into editable data. 

How to: 

  • In the Excel app, tap the New button at the top of the app to create a new file.
  • At the bottom of the screen, tap Data from Picture button.
  • Position the red box around the data you want to capture and then tap the Capture button.
  • If you’re satisfied with the captured image, tap the red check button; otherwise tap the X and try again.
  • In a preview of the captured data, you can tap an individual cell and then tap Edit to enter missing information; once you’re satisfied, tap Insert at the top to place the data in your workbook.

2) SCHEDULE MEETINGS PAINLESSLY

Professionals are familiar with how exhausting it can be to schedule meetings. The Calendly website and app eliminate the old-school way of using email and phone calls to co-ordinate appointments, calls, interviews and more. Make a private schedule of the dates and time you’re available, and clients can view and self-select times that work for them. Calendly can also be integrated with Google, Office 365 and Outlook to avoid any conflicts. 

3) MANAGE YOUR ENTIRE BUSINESS IN ONE SYSTEM

More small- and medium-sized businesses are using online budgeting tools such as Scoro to manage finances in a more streamlined and organized way. These new tools use intuitive software and are easy to use—no excessive training required. In addition to budgeting, Scoro features tools such as financial reports and analysis, a financial KPI dashboard, invoicing and professional services automation and automated revenue stream from invoices. Users can view their clickable financial reports on actual results with budget deficit and surplus, use accounting dimensions, real-time sales margin estimation, and compare two periods to see trends over time. Scoro rates start at US$26/month per user; or try a free 14-day trial.

4) KEEP TRACK OF YOUR PASSWORDS

Accountants have enough to think about without worrying about security breaches. That’s why password managers such as LastPass should be an essential part of your online life. Your password manager creates strong passwords, keeps track of them so you don’t have to, and makes it easier to change multiple passwords. It’s also the best way to securely share logins with your firm and clients. LastPass is popular due to its simple interface, compatibility, variety of features and price point. Bonus: the free version includes most features you would need. 

5)  PUT THE FINANCIALS AT YOUR FINGERPRINTS

Helping to bring in the mobile age of accounting, the Xero app helps run your business from anywhere and anytime. Available on both iOS and Android, the app makes it easy to send invoices, approve expenses, input receipts and reconcile. The cloud-based software aims to bring together all the information accountants need in one space. From now on, manage your business while on the move.

GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR TECH

Take the edge off your multitasking with accountant-friendly gadgets. Or learn about technology issues facing CPAs in this CPA Canada webinar.