Technology - think automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and seamless integration with other domains - frees accountants from repetitive tasks and empowers them to work on meaningful projects, adding even more value and building trust between the organizations they work for and their stakeholders. That's the essence of real-time accounting, which is now within reach thanks to a new partnership between KPMG and Odoo. Fabien Pinckaers, Founder and CEO of Odoo, and Wim Van den Brande, Head of Tax, Legal & Accountancy at KPMG in Belgium explain what they hope to achieve with the partnership: "To revolutionize the industry. We won't do it for less."
"Odoo is a platform of business applications, which work together seamlessly. We started about ten years ago with an accounting module from the perspective of companies," explains Fabien. "In 2018, we developed an application specifically for accountants, in which they can work with their clients."
"It has never been our ambition to develop accounting software ourselves," says Wim. "That's why we started looking for a technology partner to support us in our services. After intensive research we selected Odoo. Their applications are of a high technological ingenuity and combine AI, machine learning and ease of use. Not to mention that their cutting edge technology allows for collaboration between service providers and customers and between different domains. KPMG prides itself on being able to provide a multidisciplinary approach to our clients and the partnership with Odoo only strengthens this resolve."
'Accountancy 3.0.' is becoming the norm
"Real-time accounting is the biggest revolution in the world of accountancy since the invention of double-entry bookkeeping," says Wim. "We are now taking the steps towards 'Accountancy 3.0.', which immediately makes the profession of accountant a lot more interesting. Thanks to technology, we are able to transform a mountain of data into useful insights. It is up to the accountant to translate these insights into strategic advice to support well-founded decisions. As a result, the accountant gets promoted from a ‘number cruncher’ to a business advisor! Sound strategic decisions, an enhanced reputation, more productivity and better financial results. That's what organizations achieve with real-time accounting."
"Real-time accounting creates more efficiency and fewer errors," reveals Fabien. "OCR and AI work together to assign documents and transactions to the right accounts, and machine learning in turn ensures that the software keeps getting better and smarter. Everything that can be automated is automated."
Historical data is in the past
"Real-time accounting provides a razor-sharp picture of the financial situation of an organization, at any given moment," says Wim. "The accountant no longer works purely post factum, on the basis of historical data, but offers insights that are most relevant at the moment. Companies and accountants invest too much time in the past. We want to do that differently."
"And with us, real-time is really real-time," Fabien clarifies. "Three seconds after you upload an invoice, your financial statements are updated. That also ensures that the workload of accountants is spread out - the big peaks at the end of each VAT period largely fall away, because the accounts are up-to-date at all times."
Reporting becomes co-creating
"Accountants now also have more room to work together," Wim continues. "Instead of just reporting, they also collaborate on analyses about strategic investments, financial forecasts and so on. The accountant and their client have access to the same data at the same time and can therefore really work together to achieve the desired objectives. Our tool offers numerous communication and co-creation possibilities. Real-time financial information thus becomes a real part of the decision-making process."
"Real-time accounting increases the efficiency of the accountant," says Fabien. "A question from a customer can be answered a lot faster since the data is always available to be analyzed. Moreover, thanks to our technology, human errors are reduced which makes the data even more qualitative. Consequentially, this increased visibility and access to valuable insights strengthens the trust between accountants and their clients, and between companies and their stakeholders."
"Let’s face it – accountants are becoming more and more scarce these days and some companies can't even find accountants to meet their obligations. That's a problem," Wim admits. "If we revalue the job with real-time accounting, not only will we breath some much-needed life into the profession, but it will mean more qualitative services for companies, more informed decisions, better results and a stronger reputation. And at the end of the day, your customers and other stakeholders will trust you more because they feel more secure with the data you are providing."
The road to real-time accounting
"Moving from traditional accounting to real-time accounting is remarkably easy," Wim explains. "You simply have to plan for the switch and then make sure you have the right tools to collect the data. But, it's mainly a matter of making the mental switch: understanding that the role of the accountant has changed."
"The quality of the tool is the quality of life," says Fabien. "A tool that saves time and is easy to use makes for more job satisfaction and a more qualitative service from the accountant."
"Everyone will eventually make the switch to real-time accounting," Wim concludes. "Why? Because, ultimately, real-time data allows clients to take real-time decisions. This, in turn, allows them to get accurate data to their stakeholders faster which fosters better relationships and increases trust.”
Reach out to us to discover how to access valuable insights from your accounting data and build stakeholder trust.