Of these, 3.7 lakh companies were into business services and 2.36 lakh entities were engaged in manufacturing and other lines of work. Business services include information technology (IT), research and development, law, and consultancies. Today, employees of most of these companies are operating from home – and in the process getting used to a new normal. As a result of this new world we live and work in, marketing people are spending even more time hunched over presentations and engagement on social media and virtual platforms has increased. Sales teams are using their mobile phones like never before – some intrepid ones are even using virtual video conferencing to connect with their clients. Like their other colleagues, finance & accounting (F&A) professionals also find themselves grappling with a lockdown scenario. Despite being connected, the challenges of staying abreast with all aspects of operations, including employees and IT clients, spends and business forecasts, etc. are crucial elements of effective collaboration.
The financial industry has traditionally been built around technical processes, operational functions, and a logical flow of information; therefore, working remotely may seem like a foreign concept to finance and accounting professionals. When people think of finance professionals and their jobs, they think of someone sitting behind a desk in an office, meeting with clients, and dealing with endless piles of paperwork. Working from home—without any face-to-face meetings or paper handoffs—might not seem possible; however, with the right applications, it is totally achievable!
With the news that the annual tax-filing deadline has been moved to June 2020, F&A professionals have more time to adjust and make sure they have solid protocols in place for remote working. These will be invaluable for keeping firms and their respective departments running smoothly when several or nearly all employees are working from home.
Given that F&A teams handle extremely sensitive data, ensuring that remote work is successful must be the first order of business. It is important to provide employees with all the necessary tools and training they need to do their jobs from home, as well as be able to effectively communicate with colleagues, and oversee ongoing business performance. Cloud-based applications have made it easy for professionals to access data and information from personal computers, and specialized accounting software is no exception. Many developers the world over have moved their platforms to the cloud to grant finance professionals a higher level of remote access that is safe and reliable.
There are also frameworks such as COSO and COBIT that enable organizations to develop, implement, monitor, and improve information technology (IT) governance, and management best practices as a means of anticipating organizational needs while building the capacity to operate amid such crisis scenarios.
F&A professionals must use the current crisis as a catalyst for long-term change and equip themselves with the latest tools and technologies to continue working smoothly from remote locations, and here are some of the basic steps and tools needed to get the process started:
- Cloud computing accounting software: Cloud computing accounting software is hosted on remote servers. It provides accounting capabilities to businesses in a fashion similar to the SaaS (Software as a Service) business model. Using cloud computing accounting software frees the business from having to install and maintain software on individual desktop computers. It also allows employees in remote or branch offices to access the same data and the same version of the software. It can also be referred to as online accounting software or web-based accounting software. Some of the safest and most popular platforms are Quickbooks, ZOHO Books and Tally Software.
- Secure networks: The reality is that not every home is properly outfitted or “VPN-ed” to provide secure network access. Given that employees are mostly using company devices means potentially exposed access to trade secrets and data, which increases vulnerability. As noted, there are frameworks such as COSO and COBIT that enable organizations to develop, implement, monitor, and improve information technology (IT) governance, and management best practices as a means of anticipating organizational needs while building the capacity to operate amid such crisis scenarios.
- Communication: Communication is the key to successful collaboration when it comes to working remotely with an array of platforms for the choosing which include the likes of ZOOM, Skype, and many others.
Working from home is the best way to ensure the safety of company employees whilst honouring business priorities. So long as professionals have access to the right tools, systems, processes, and management support, finance professionals can be as effective and as successful in managing their business from home as they can from an office.