How Connected Data Benefits Financial Accountants

Connected data in accounting software vastly benefits modern accounting teams. But what is connected data, anyway? It is simpler than it sounds, and we use it every day.

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Connected data in software applications allows users to reuse data across other different software applications, which is extremely beneficial for accountants who perform a wide variety of functions.

Accountants who use CaseWare’s suite of products, for example, can reuse single-sourced data in many of CaseWare’s other products.

Connected data allows all enterprise data to be connected to and accessible from a centralized source. This can be a software suite of two or more applications where data can be easily exchanged between platforms, a well-known example of which is Microsoft Office 365. Often, programs in the suite feature a similar graphical interface and common navigation conventions, allowing users to easily use new software in the suite.

Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, well-known software applications in the Microsoft Office 365 suite of products, share a very common user interface, and data can be easily exchanged between platforms. This improves the user experience as individual users are able to do more with the software they purchased.

Enterprises with connected data often use a large number of software applications, and they have many different suites targeted to different professions and purposes. Some well-known examples of these software suites include:

  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Adobe Creative Cloud
  • G Suite
  • LibreOffice

The Benefits of Connected Data

Connected Data is also important for the software company itself producing the software, and connected data is pertinent to the success of a software company for the following reasons:

Greater Opportunities for Innovation
Connectivity in software suites enables software companies to make great innovations. With complementation from other previously existing software, new software can be easily created to perform new kinds of functions. As a result, a new software in a suite, especially software for a specific industry, can easily be created.

If new software is being built, the process can be made faster if UI and programming elements can be reused rather than made from scratch.

A Better Experience for Users
A product suite that allows data to be transferred saves the time-consuming process of having to re-import data manually when using completely different software products. Instead, data can be single-sourced to allow for a seamless transition between software. For example, CaseWare imported data from Working Papers can be reused throughout CaseWare’s suite of products. For example, CaseWare data imported from Working Papers can be reused throughout CaseWare’s suite of products.

Artificial Intelligence
An important topic when discussing the impact of connected data is a software company’s ability to provide AI services. Artificial Intelligence is gaining prominence in the software industry because of the competitive advantage it provides within the industry. AI software can pull data from a variety of individual software and use that data to perform highly advanced functions that would be difficult for standard software perform.

There’s no doubt that artificial intelligence is changing the software industry.CaseWare AnalyticsAI, for example, makes it easier to perform analysis in any engagement by incorporating automated testing into established workflows.

These days, you can’t have a conversation on connected data without discussing cloud-based data.

CaseWare Africa launches Cloud – Individual Tax

CaseWare Africa, a division of Adapt IT, has released details of its latest innovation, Individual Tax. This additional app on the CloudTax platform facilitates the preparation, calculation, and submission of individual tax returns (ITR12).

Individual Tax
Individual Tax

“It is estimated that the majority of tax practitioners spend between 75% to 90% of their time gathering information and documents in preparation of tax returns”, says Michael Mncube, Tax Product Manager, CaseWare Africa .“This together with ensuring that accurate, high-quality tax returns are submitted to SARS on time, often leaves very little room to optimise the efficiency of the methodology and improve the process that the practice follows.”

Mncube says gathering tax data using hard copies, client collaboration via countless emails and phone calls, is both tedious and daunting. “This entire process results in long and delayed response times. The use of Excel spreadsheets to calculate and corroborate numbers, a multitude of disconnected datasets used by tax teams, plus the resulting errors, are all compounded when needing to submit each tax return, per taxpayer individually as well – leading to an inefficient and time consuming process,” he says.

“Individual Tax offers unsurpassed efficiencies as the collection of tax data for specific tax years is achieved via digital queries that then automatically store the information in the relevant sections of the return – saving significant time and effort” notes Mncube. Individual Tax offers a centralised data storage in a single format, a comprehensive tax calculation framework aligned to SARS, powerful overviews of tax-related balances and the ability to prepare both IRP6 and ITR12 returns in a single solution. “This new addition to our CloudTax suite offers a multitude of benefits including the presentation of a clear view of provisional and income tax returns, together with related values grouped per tax year – all a single view allowing reconciliations of submissions and assessments.”
Additional features include built-in schedules that facilitate the summary of tax data inputs and auto-calculation of totals, thus, eliminating human error. “It also caters for bulk submission of tax returns to SARS, saving additional time and further enhancing efficiency. Seamless annual updates empower practitioners with peace of mind by ensuring that the latest changes in tax legislation and compliance are incorporated,” says Mncube.

CloudTax integrates directly with SARS efiling, which automatically synchronises all taxpayer details and historical correspondence in bulk, into a one-stop centralised location for fast and easy access. Built-in dashboards ensure that deadlines are never missed and that efforts can be directed to the most urgent action items. “By managing all client contact information in one place, practitioners can collaborate directly with taxpayers from within the platform.

“Powered by CaseWare Cloud, CloudTax is always available from any location, on any device, at any time and is included when customers buy Individual Tax,” Mncube concludes.

CaseWare Africa launches ISRS Agreed-Upon engagements

CaseWare Africa, a division of Adapt IT, has released details of its latest addition to the assurance product suite, ISRS Agreed-Upon.  This additional app on the CaseWare Cloud platform facilitates accepting, performing and reporting on findings of ISRS 4400 (Revised) Agreed-Upon procedure engagements.

“It is estimated that audit teams spend a significant portion of their time reconciling reporting of the performed procedures and the gathered findings”, says Christiaan Steyn, Assurance Product Manager, CaseWare Africa. “This together with facilitating and documenting inquiries from management, as well as obtaining accurate, high-quality feedback on questions to management, often leaves very little room to optimally focus the team’s time on performing the agreed procedures and improving the efficiency of the engagement”.

Steyn says that reconciling procedures from accepting, agreeing terms of engagement, performing and finally reporting, as well as client collaboration via countless emails and phone calls, is both tedious and daunting – leaving too much room for potential errors in the repetitive manual transfer of information between documents. “This entire process results in long and delayed engagement turnaround times and repetition in the workflow. By using Excel spreadsheets and emails to document procedures and communication with management, many engagement teams end up with a multitude of disconnected datasets. Additional potential errors are then also introduced and compounded when teams are working under pressure to complete and submit the ISRS Agreed-Upon findings report,” he says.

“ISRS Agreed-Upon provides audit teams with a streamlined workflow that guides users through the entire engagement process – including all applicable documentation like agreeing the terms, documenting the procedures and completing the agreed-upon procedures report”, notes Steyn. “The app offers numerous built-in efficiencies, as the documentation of agreed procedures are completed only once-off, and are automated further throughout the engagement by incorporating the collection of client inquiries via digital queries, that then automatically store the information in the relevant procedures – saving significant time and effort”.

ISRS Agreed-Upon offers a centralised data storage in a single format on CaseWare Cloud with integrated reporting on engagement progress. “This new addition to our Assurance Cloud suite offers a multitude of benefits including the presentation of a clear view of engagement status, client inquiry status and outstanding deliverables” Steyn adds. Built-in dashboards ensure that deadlines are never missed and that efforts can be directed to the most urgent action items. “By managing all client contact information in one place, teams can collaborate directly with clients from within ISRS Agreed-Upon.”
“Powered by CaseWare Cloud, ISRS Agreed-Upon is always available from any location, on any device, at any time” Steyn concludes.

Helping our clients navigate COVID-19’s choppy waters

Like most businesses during these challenging times, CaseWare Africa’s main focus has been on maintaining our ability to continue servicing our existing clients, who depend on us to run their businesses.

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In pursuit of that goal, we successfully moved our entire workforce offsite ahead of the national lockdown. Our cloud-first strategy has served us well, as the cloud is not only how we deliver our new generation of software to clients, it’s also how we empower our own teams with the tools to build our software and serve our clients.

As a result, our software design and development has continued virtually without a break, something that’s very important to us—we know our clients depend on our software to automate key processes, and rely on us to keep their software up-to-date in respect of complying with local regulations and global compliance standards.

In short, our clients can continue to receive the support they need on their current products, but they can also be confident that our teams are continuing to work hard in creating the new products that will reimagine existing experiences entirely on the cloud.

Another initiative has been to increase the number of webinars and online training courses for clients, especially those who are working remotely. These cover a range of useful topics, and we see them as an additional service to clients who may be facing specific challenges at the moment, or who may find themselves with extra time on their hands.

While we are proud of the response we have been able to make as a company in order to serve our clients, we are also very aware of some significant challenges.

The first relates to our clients, particularly those in the accounting and auditing worlds as well as corporate finance teams. While they can work remotely with great success, their clients are often not in the same position. Many types of work cannot be done remotely—think of mines, retailers, manufacturers, to name a few. Many are clients of our clients, and they are obviously experiencing huge suffering. We and our clients are part of this value chain, and its pain affects us all.

This general economic malaise—and all the experts say it will be severe—is not only posing a challenge to existing value chains, it is also reducing the potential for creating new ones. However well prepared we and our clients are, finding new business is likely to be a problem for the foreseeable future across all sectors for the economy.

Another hurdle we all face is the management of remote teams. Providing them with the right tools to work with is one thing, keeping them motivated and collaborating with colleagues is quite another. Managers will have to acquire new skills.

These are tough times for all of us, businesses and individuals. With the help of technology and our famous South African resilience, we are finding ways to survive and eventually prosper.

Christiaan Brink, Product Executive, CaseWare Africa, a division of Adapt IT.

Christiaan holds a degree in Computer Engineering and has extensive product development experience and a passion for technology.  He spent 12 years based in the UK creating software solutions for the investment data industry across EMEA.  Christiaan joined the Adapt IT group in 2019 where he currently leads the product group for the CaseWare Africa division.

CaseWare’s cloud-first focus pays dividends for clients

A few years back, CaseWare took the decision to adopt a cloud-first strategy. As a result, those clients who had already adopted our cloud-based solutions were able to avoid any loss of productivity when forced to begin working remotely during the COVID-19 crisis. Cloud offers immediate and secure access to applications and data from anywhere.

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Given today’s ever-changing threat landscape, it’s important to emphasise that our clients’ data is protected by solid multi-factor authentication and rigorous security protocols that are continuously updated.

In alignment with this strategy, most of our latest applications have been developed for the cloud and are fully optimised for use on the CaseWare Cloud platform. For example, using our ISAE Attestation app, auditors can easily conduct assurance engagements for attorney and estate agent trust accounts. Similarly, CaseWare’s CloudTax and Corporate Tax applications allow tax practitioners and corporate finance teams to manage all provisional IRP6 and ITR14 annual tax returns, completely online with direct integration with SARS. With CloudSec, practitioners and company secretaries can manage CIPC compliant statutory secretarial tasks.

We are working hard on developing other cloud-first applications. Because of our cloud-based development tools and infrastructure, we were able to enable our workforce to work remotely when the COVID-19 outbreak made it necessary. Thanks to our cloud-first strategy, our development efforts have been unaffected by COVID-19.

However, our cloud-first strategy also encompasses our large base of desktop users. Existing users of CaseWare Working Papers who use our Assurance and Financial Reporting templates, can benefit from the cloud by combining these desktop offerings with CaseWare Cloud and SmartSync. This hybrid solution allows our desktop users to store a centralised copy of a CaseWare Working Papers file on CaseWare Cloud, and then use SmartSync to enable a distributed team to collaborate together. This means that everyone can work simultaneously on the same file, with a complete audit trail of all changes, whilst a redundant backup of the engagement is securely stored on the cloud for access at any time from any location.

It’s also important to emphasise the benefits of the cloud over trying to collaborate via corporate systems. The latter typically require connection via a VPN for security purposes, and corporate systems can battle to handle excessive multiple VPN connections at once, thus limiting the productivity of remote workers. Expanding the corporate VPN capability is expensive. By contrast, the cloud is designed for remote access from any location and, as already noted, is inclusive of the latest security measures and protocols that large cloud providers offer. Individual organisations would find delivering this level of security both challenging and expensive.

Recent events make it more apparent than ever that the take-up of cloud-based solutions will accelerate, and that organisations will transition much of their software onto cloud platforms in the coming months and years. We at CaseWare will continue to pursue our cloud app development initiatives, and look forward to introducing our clients to this new generation of benefits as they become available.

Christiaan Brink, Product Executive, CaseWare Africa, a division of Adapt IT.

Christiaan holds a degree in Computer Engineering and has extensive product development experience and a passion for technology.  He spent 12 years based in the UK creating software solutions for the investment data industry across EMEA.  Christiaan joined the Adapt IT group in 2019 where he currently leads the product group for the CaseWare Africa division.

CaseWare Africa launches Interim Financial Statements

Johannesburg…………2020:  CaseWare Africa, a division of AdaptIT, has announced the launch of its latest product innovation, Interim Financial Statements, a new template designed to help enterprises easily draft interim financial statements in line with the IAS 34 standard.

 

 

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The Interim Financial Statements template allows for the seamless import of data for multiple periods, and fully integrates with CaseWare’s existing IFRS template for annual financial statements. In addition, it provides listed entities with new functionality to allow for JSE disclosure requirements and interim financial statement market trends, all in a single file, says Nienke Krüger, Product Manager: Financial Reporting at CaseWare Africa.

“Until now, the market has lacked a solution to automate the preparation of interim financial statements. At present, companies are typically using spreadsheets to produce these statements, following a highly manual process that can be both severely error-prone and hugely time-consuming. In addition, existing manual processes take place independently of the annual financial statement processes, thus duplicating effort. The challenge is exacerbated for companies with multiple subsidiaries which need to report on consolidated figures as well,” she says.

“All of these challenges, including consolidation, are efficiently solved in CaseWare Africa’s new solution. Automation is one of the key strategies driving financial reporting because it reduces manual intervention and makes the process both more streamlined and accurate.”

Ms Krüger notes that the template can be customised to ensure it aligns with the particular organisation’s requirements as well as applicable regulations. It can be customised to show only the material items required by IAS 34, and can be adjusted to produce financial statements monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly or semi-annually.

Companies listed on the JSE are compelled to produce semi-annual interim financial reports, while companies listed on other exchanges, such as the Nigerian Stock Exchange, need to do this on a quarterly basis. There are also various other stakeholders that will require interim financial statements to be prepared by a corporate entity, such as venture-capital and private-equity shareholders.

“CaseWare Africa’s new Interim Financial Statement solution provides a unique opportunity to automate and unify both interim and annual financial statement processes in a single solution,” Ms Krüger adds. “Above all, the new template will allow the finance professionals preparing these statements to reduce production time and save costs while at the same time improving quality and taking advantage of CaseWare’s industry-leading compliance.”About CaseWare Africa

CaseWare Africa, a division of Adapt IT, is the global leader in auditing and financial reporting software and is used in over 130 countries worldwide. Our 20 000 users across Africa, consist of audit and accounting firms, government entities, municipalities as well as large blue chip companies.

CaseWare is the undisputed leader when it comes to compliance. Our leading content providers ensure you are always compliant with the latest disclosure requirements on ISAs, IFRS, IFRS-SME, GRAP and IPSAS. Our world-class products are not only designed to deliver on our compliance promise, but ensure quality results, increased effectiveness and improved profitability.

The realities of remote working—but how long will they last?

By Christiaan Brink, Product Executive, CaseWare Africa

Overnight, we all turned into remote workers, raising all sorts of technical and human issues for us and our companies. Now that we’ve been at it for several weeks, some trends are starting to emerge:

 

 

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Microsoft Teams and Zoom are clear winnerswhen it comes to hosting video meeting between colleagues and with clients—not to mention virtual coffee dates with friends and even book club gatherings and the like. Teams reportedly added 12 million new active daily users in the first week of lockdown, which gives you some idea of what it means when businesses across the world move online more or less simultaneously. Microsoft has also made the product available to schools at no charge. Part of its success is probably due to the strength of the Microsoft brand, and the way it integrates with the ubiquitous Office suite. Zoom’s success is probably attributable to its free version, its efficient use of data and its good social interface.

The cloud is demonstrating its mettle.Corporate VPN capabilities have often buckled under the strain of the entire workforce trying to access systems, thus harming productivity and solving the problem has proved to be expensive. By contrast, those organisations that opted for cloud-hosted solutions have not experienced this difficulty—the applications and data are readily accessible from anywhere, are designed for high-volume access and are well-protected by the cloud provider’s large security teams and rigorous authentication protocols. CaseWare’s decision to follow a cloud-first strategy means that clients who were already using CaseWare Cloud were able to continue work seamlessly during this time.

Education could be in for a profound disruption.Education institutions latched onto online channels as an additional revenue stream a few years back, but now that the entire “real-world” student body has been forced online, there’s every chance that a more fundamental reboot of the education model is in the offing. It could mean that the best teaching would be available to anybody anywhere—provided that governments can offer the necessary devices and connectivity where they are needed.

Business real estate is in for a reset.They say it takes only three weeks to form a new habit, and by the end of lockdown, many of us will have become habituated to working from home. If a more hybrid work style evolves, with home perhaps becoming the place to do work that requires deep concentration, then companies may find themselves needing less floor area and even perhaps less appetite for prime locations.

Online retail will accelerate.The impact of a new habit could also be made about e-commerce. Lockdown will have prompted many to take their first steps into online purchasing, and if their experience is good, they may continue using digital channels. The big retailers are online already, but the smaller high street stores will probably need to do some lateral thinking.

Performing could be redefined.Many artists are streaming performances from their living rooms and other unlikely venues, and may be opening up a new stream of revenue for them once live performances become possible again. Just as many sports fans opt to watch the big game on TV for reasons of convenience and also the better view, so a new audience for all the performing arts could be created. And shouldn’t our local film industry explore streaming as a way to reach a wider audience, especially as sitting cooped up in a movie house may be less appealing to many for a while?

Exercising and socialising grow in importance.There is a certain amount one can do by participating in online exercise classes and having virtual dinner parties, but our appreciation of the real thing grows by the day.

Despite its many negatives, the COVID-19 crisis has delivered one clear benefit: a renewed sense that ultimately we all have more in common than we thought. In a country with our history, the sense of unity is inspiring. Let’s hope that we can keep that spirit alive even though we still have so many difficult challenges to solve as a nation. If there is one thing we have realised during this time, it is that, as human beings, we are social creatures desiring community and relationship.

Christiaan Brink, Product Executive, CaseWare Africa, a division of Adapt IT.

Christiaan holds a degree in Computer Engineering and has extensive product development experience and a passion for technology.  He spent 12 years based in the UK creating software solutions for the investment data industry across EMEA.  Christiaan joined the Adapt IT group in 2019 where he currently leads the product group for the CaseWare Africa division.

Four steps for accounting to weather the 4IR

The Fourth Industrial Revolution will profoundly change the world of accounting. But agile companies stand to benefit from these changes.

Jodi Joseph, Divisional Executive, CaseWare Africa – Adapt IT – unpacks the different elements of the 4th Industrial Revolution and specifically what they mean for accounting professionals in terms of how they run their businesses and avail of the opportunities for growth that this latest technology era brings.

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Accounting, or accountancy, is thousands of years old and can be traced to ancient civilisations. Italian Luca de Pacioli – recognised as the father of accounting and bookkeeping – published his work on double-entry bookkeeping, as long ago as 1495.  The profession has weathered the challenges and opportunities of each of the first three industrial revolutions, but the changes looming in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) look set to take place faster than any that came before it.

Throughout the ages, the fundamental purpose of the profession has stayed consistent – to:

• provide reliable financial information,
• help businesses stay compliant with ever increasing regulations
• and take up the role of trusted advisor for people who want to run businesses and make money.

This purpose will remain true throughout the 4th industrial revolution. But how we will provide reliable financial information and what a trusted advisor will need to do and know, will change.

Driving these changes will be certain key 4IR technologies:

• Blockchain. In a world of fake news and a drive for total transparency, the Blockchain equals the Truth.
• As an incorruptible chain of blocks where each block contains data of value which is validated by all nodes in the network, information stored on the blockchain can never be deleted or altered.  This technology is viewed as the future of land registries due to the myriad of benefits it offers and its potential to greatly reduce property fraud. Blockchain technology underpins ‘smart contracts’, which are programmable contracts that self-execute when certain conditions are met, and offer the possibility that transactions could complete much more quickly when combined with a blockchain registry.
• Big data and cloud computing capabilities. As public expectations change and accountants and auditors must review all information of a company at scale, big data and cloud computing capabilities supports data acquisition. At the same time, data analytic tools are now smarter than ever before. Patterns that could never be detected before are now available at a click of a button.
• Internet of Things. IoT solutions support stock control and risk management for accounting clients across all sectors, enabling accounting efficiency and improving profitability.
• Artificial Intelligence. AI programmes are set to intelligently enhance process automation, reducing the risk of human error and improving efficiency and compliance.

In the short to medium term we see all 4th IR technologies significantly improving the efficiency of the profession – it should be far quicker and cheaper than ever before to process more information, and the quality of outputs to inform decisions should also vastly improve.

Four steps to adapting to the change

For the accounting profession, these new technologies bring with them sudden change, but also significant opportunities. To weather the change and enter the 4IR on a competitive footing, accounting should take the following four steps.

Step one – Focus on purpose

Throughout the ages the accounting profession has existed to help people, governments and economies make good decisions about the allocation of resources and to hold others to account for those decisions.

Better technologies will only enable the profession to deliver on its purpose better than ever before. Improvements will be on speed and quality of information for all participants in the ecosystem.

Step Two – Exploit powerful technologies

To fully exploit new technologies, we need to be clear about what they can do and how they can help. Be informed and get involved so that technologists help solve fundamental business problems in new ways. Clients will look to you to bring some of these answers.

In preparing to exploit 4IR technologies, accounting must focus on leveraging 3IR technologies, automating the practice and ensuring quality data exists today.

Step Three – Think radically

As a profession, we need to be open to more profound change. Research is showing that humans and computers working together produce better results than computers in isolation. We need to think about how we will use technology to leverage the truly human qualities that make the profession effective –  such as professional scepticism, leadership, empathy and creativity.

Step Four – Be adaptable

Technology is changing more rapidly than ever before, so it is impossible to predict how far it will get in replacing human decision making. Therefore, accounting professionals will need to take a flexible approach when thinking about the future. Skills will also have to adapt, with a concerted effort made to understand new technologies and data.

Accounting must also understand clients’ appetite to leverage technologies. Growing numbers of clients are using online cloud accounting packages – not to perform the accounting role, but to take up parts of the process that serve them, such as instant invoicing or chasing up their own collections. The impact of this is better cash flow for clients and better data for accounting to work with.

Most of all, the 4IR means accounting will have to move quickly, get with this change, and stay agile, as this revolution cannot be ignored.

Taking financial reporting into the digital era

5 measures to future proof reporting and preparing for a 4IR environment

By Christiaan Brink, Product Executive for CaseWare Africa, Adapt IT.

Managing the financial reporting process in a structured way that is easy to understand, is challenging in a fast-moving world fraught with regulatory and compliance complexities, with the volume of things to account for growing at an unprecedented rate.

 

 

The complexity of this environment is set to increase in the 4th Industrial Revolution. With more technology to empower financial professionals than ever before, this has not eliminated professional conduct that is void of ethics, good governance and sound judgement. The recent bout of South African corporate scandals, questionable audit practices, trading suspensions and financial reporting restatements, bear testament to that getting it right is about more than just embracing technology.

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At the same time, technology is the key enabler to empower finance professionals and provide them with the tools necessary to drive higher standards and the speed of execution that modern business demands. It is paramount for these professionals to automate core business processes and repetitive tasks, not only to weather the changes the 4IR will ultimately bring, but to shift focus to expertise and skills that cannot be emulated by machines.

5 key measures to future-proof financial reporting are:

1. Automate absolutely everything

In financial reporting, manual inputs, amendments and calculations are prone to error, particularly when teams are working to tight deadlines. As the pressure mounts, teams are forced to take shortcuts, skip steps and make assumptions.

At CaseWare, we are continuously surprised at how many large corporate firms still consolidate using Excel. Aside from risking macros and formulas that may go wrong, managing this understanding and complexity over time is extremely tedious. To avoid this, organisations need to connect all business processes directly with systems and platforms to allow them to process, calculate and store data automatically, centrally, securely and – as far as possible – in real time. They can then deploy reporting tools on top of this to set up all the insights they need, and enable automated financial reporting.

This empowers teams with more time to apply the much needed value-added qualities that are uniquely human, such as creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, innovation, relationship building, judgement and advice.

2. Standardise reporting and KPIs

Centralising and automating all data creates an ecosystem the business can continuously supplement and enrich. This then empowers the organisation to define and implement all the standardised reporting they need, in a consistent way, automated end-to-end and on an ongoing basis.

In the case of IFRS 9 for example, the challenge is not specifically what must be disclosed, but how to arrive at what the disclosure requires, as the datasets needed are not always readily available and might be difficult to work with. Therefore, business needs to look wider than just financial reporting data and treat all data as a strategic asset that must be well measured, collected fluidly, stored on a large scale and combined in a strategic fashion. Big data and running complex calculations are becoming a reality that more and more businesses will have to come to grips with, and build strong capabilities for.

Achieving all of this is highly powerful, as businesses are then able to define, measure and report KPIs on insights that drive their success in ways they have never before been able to do.

3. Simplify understanding

From a regulatory and legal perspective, financial reporting must adhere to very specific disclosure and compliance standards. However, in most organisations, the majority of employees are not financial professionals and they may have limited ability to readily understand this information.

By centralising data and standardising reporting, it becomes possible to institute organisation-wide management and operational reporting that empowers employees at all levels with metrics and KPIs they can easily understand. It also gives them a clear view into how they are able to influence them. This is immensely powerful in creating the right incentives across a business.

4. Drive an environment of transparency

Obfuscation, disinformation and fake news thrive in a setting where perception is disconnected from reality and facts. With modern technology at their disposal, companies are now better placed than ever before to create an environment of transparency. And with blockchain ledgers increasingly being implemented within transactional system back-ends, organisations are better equipped to validate the integrity of who did what, and in which order.

5. Surface problems immediately

In a world where data is a strategic asset, we are now able to make greater sense of all our transactional data and process insights – for example from our general and subsidiary ledgers. We can connect these datasets to processes that catch outliers and questionable activities instantly, and set up exception reporting which can be surfaced from the executive level, down through the organisation to a level of detail which everyone can act on immediately. These systems are already starting to incorporate machine learning and AI capabilities to spot problems and take action faster than ever before. However, it is very difficult to take advantage of these technologies if data is not centralised.

It is now more important than ever not to wait for audit findings, but instead to empower every employee to be their own compliance officers and create an environment where problems are surfaced quickly with data, and dealt with decisively.

As organisations brace themselves for the impact of the 4IR, they should take advantage of the platforms, systems and automation at their disposal already today and work to build the appropriate technical capabilities and skills within their finance teams. Those that invest and continually increment in their technology foundation, will be well placed to take advantage of 4IR technologies as they mature.

Christiaan Brink, Product Executive, CaseWare Africa, a division of Adapt IT.

Christiaan holds a degree in Computer Engineering and has extensive product development experience and a passion for technology. He has spent the last 12 years based in the UK creating software solutions for the investment data industry across EMEA. Christiaan recently joined the Adapt IT group where he currently leads the product group for the CaseWare Africa division.

CaseWare Africa launches mSCOA template

CaseWare Africa has launched its mSCOA template which will automate the process of complying with the National Treasury’s directive for municipalities to align their annual financial statements with the Municipal Standard Chart of Accounts.

 

 

National Treasury’s initiative is aimed at ensuring that municipal annual financial statements are standardised in order to facilitate seamless planning, budgeting and reporting using the same datasets, and that all the data complies with the Municipal Budget and Reporting Regulations (MBRR) and Generally Recognised Accounting Principles (GRAP).

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This common dataset can then also be used when municipalities report to National Treasury and indirectly to Parliament.

“This initiative by National Treasury is to be welcomed because it will help ensure that there is ‘one version of the truth’ when it comes to municipal finances, and also that Treasury (and thus Parliament) is receiving audited figures drawn from the annual financial statements,” says Stephan van der Merwe CA (SA), Product Manager, CaseWare Africa, an AdaptIT company.

Mr Van der Merwe says that CaseWare Africa’s mSCOA template is based on the same technology used in our GRAP template which is currently in use by a wide range of users, including public entities, TVET colleges, trading accounts, traditional authorities, municipal entities and municipalities. The new mSCOA template will use the data derived from the reporting entity’s ERP system to populate the template, and then automate the production of annual financial statements that comply with the illustrative specimen issued by National Treasury on 29 July 2019.

The CaseWare mSCOA template will ensure that only the portions of the template applicable to the entity will be populated, and the software will automatically adjust pagination and references accordingly.

“Even more important, automation supports greater data integrity because the data values are drawn directly from the financial system, and cannot easily be adjusted. This greatly reduces risk both for the reporting entity and the National Treasury, which can now rely on getting audited figures that accurately reflect the reality on the ground,” he explains. “In true CaseWare style, mSCOA is taking a hugely complex process and making it both simple and user-friendly,” he concludes.

“By using CaseWare Africa’s mSCOA template, municipalities can comply much more easily with National Treasury’s directive and greatly improve their financial management, while reducing impact on their hard-pressed financial staff.”

About CaseWare Africa

CaseWare Africa, a division of Adapt IT, is the global leader in auditing and financial reporting software and is used in over 130 countries worldwide. Our 20 000 users across Africa, consist of audit and accounting firms, government entities, municipalities as well as large blue-chip companies.