Time vs. Data

Accountants face more demands on both their skills and time, it’s a tough job. With less CPA’s entering the profession we are seeing an evolution inside firms and this evolution is always impacted by one constant — time. Time doesn’t flex. It can be used more efficiently, certainly, but the amount of it doesn’t change. 

The time axis remains constant, but technology has always been a logical way to automate a variety of tasks, amplifying the effectiveness and availability of a firm’s time. Menial tasks have been automated, data analysis can now be automated, giving signals to users telling them where to spend their time with the largest impact. This all sounds great, right? Of course, it is great. Until you can’t figure out what information is relevant, and there’s more of it to sort through — dipping into your time savings.  

Data has become a large, sometimes scary, and often vague term. For accountants, the pervasiveness of technology SHOULD make their lives easier. It absolutely can and often does. However, sometimes we get too enamoured with new technologies that were intended to streamline a process or sort through data. Even when they do exactly what they’re intended to do, they can actually make the user’s life harder and more complicated because now we have to prioritize what information is indeed relevant. Information is power, sure, we’ve all heard that somewhere before. But we can’t forget, time remains a constant constraint. There is a certain degree of irony in the fact that we turn to technology to automate menial tasks, but without context a large amount of information can result in more time spent ingesting and prioritizing the information that’s been produced.

Technology is wonderful and is only going to get more pervasive in the lives of CPA’s, but it’s important to ensure what’s being implemented solves a real pain point and allows a firm more time to build real tangible value. Not all technologies are successful in doing that.  

At interVal, we remind everyone constantly that there are typically only a handful of reasons someone buys a product. The three most obvious are: it solves pain, it makes them more money, or it makes their lives easier. Look at your technology you’re using or considering implementing, and make sure that it doesn’t simply automate a process only to result in what feels like death by data. Don’t trade one problem (stretched too thin) for another (prioritizing all of the data getting thrown at you every day). Neither one allows you to move forward.