As a new generation of accountants start and finish their schooling and training programs, more of them than ever are picking up coding and software development skills along the way. Some of this is the inherent pairing and value that an employee with both skill sets has to offer an employer (or their own independent accounting firm). Some of it is also a healthy paranoia for the day in which the software technology advances to the point that accounting is a rarefied profession. Nevertheless, writing your own custom software isn’t a slam-dunk decision, even for those with the skills and knowledge set to make it a viable option.
This possible future, in which accounting software, just one example, eliminates many of the accounting jobs as they exist today, isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s going to be an incremental process that’s still several years away, but there are already plenty of anecdotal examples that a lot of the early steps have already been taken. This past year, one of my friends became a casualty of this trend. He left his job as chief accounting officer for a glass etching company to take a mid-level but higher-paying job with a large industrial chemicals manufacturing company. He was looking forward to the new position and the challenges it provided. There was just one problem. To handle its accounting service needs, the company had hired two full-time accounting professionals, and within two weeks, the other new hire had written his own software program, which eliminated the need for a second full-time accountant.
My friend was out of work. But again, in a sign that the tidal wave shift toward software automation hasn’t yet arrived, my friend was able to enjoy his 8 weeks of severance pay and then secure another job, different but comparable to his former position, without much hassle.
Apart from what it may signal about the larger industry trends, this story also reminds us about why it’s important for business owners, CEOs, and company executives to make an attempt to understand every aspect of the company’s operations, including the accounting. Poor hiring decisions abound when companies fail to appreciate how quickly the landscape is changing for software accounting solutions.