Ways Technology Can Improve Business Cash Flow

Cash flow awareness is vital in running the day-to-day activities of a business. Keeping track of the inflows and outflows helps a company make better plans and decisions, such as the right time to expand. Cash flow knowledge reveals where a business is spending money and can protect business relations, among other benefits. However, tracking cash flow is a challenge for many businesses.

To avoid business failure due to poor cash flow management, business owners are investing in software applications to help manage cash flow challenges. Modern technology enables access to these applications over the cloud, giving small- and medium-sized businesses the opportunity to benefit from them. These cash flow management tools help companies improve cash flow in various ways.

  1. Remove Manual Paper Systems that Cost Time and Money
    Using a cash flow automated system, it’s possible to create and send invoices directly to clients through email. This saves on time that would otherwise be used for printing invoices, mailing, bank trips, and going through paperwork comparing details. It is also possible to automate recurring invoices, saving the time used to create and send invoices.
  2. Makes it Easy for Clients to Pay
    Paying invoices takes time if a client has to keep confirming the payment details. However, an automated invoice can contain a pay now link, which facilitates quick payments for applications that include access to online payment options.
  3. Helps Avoid Data Entry Errors and Reduces Risks
    There is no need to move from one platform to another to check details, manually enter details, verify figures, etc. This ensures fewer errors, such as those generated when copying details like bank information to a check, or paying the wrong amount. Sorting out these errors takes time, hence delaying payments.
  4. Cash Flow Forecast
    The applications offer access to account insights in real time using cloud-based software and mobile apps, making it possible to forecast when clients are likely to pay and when bills are due. Access to live data also means there is no more dealing with complicated spreadsheets and paper ledgers. This way, a business can plan its actions to ensure positive cash flow. For instance, a business can delay paying vendors and plan when best to pay bills without running out of standby cash.
  5. Avoid Late Payments
    Late payments can result in fines that will cost the business unnecessary losses. However, with software that automatically sends invoice reminders, it is possible to make timely payments.
  6. Centralized Cash Flow System
    All activities involving cash transactions are located in one system, offering the ability to see cash inflows and outflows at a glance. As a result, a business can streamline its accounts and monitor cash flow; and since it includes real-time reporting, it’s easy to spot any red flags and solve problems that could adversely affect a business.
  7. Leverage on Data Analytics
    A centralized system will collect data and store it in one place. By deploying artificial intelligence technology that performs data analysis, a business can better forecast its cash flow. This also provides insight into how changes such as a new products or price adjustments affect cash flow.

Choosing a Cash Flow Tool

Cash flow automation enables a business to maintain a positive cash flow and have cash in its reserves to afford reinvesting in its operations, settling debts, and handling other operating costs. However, before investing in an automation tool, it’s recommended to analyze different tools to find the best fit for your business. Each tool is different and built to address various business problems.

Some features to look out for include integration with the existing accounting system, payments and invoicing, accepting a variety of payment methods, and security.

Besides getting the most suitable application, there are other considerations to establishing a healthy cash flow. Technology has its benefits, but it does not act as a cure for a poorly implemented system. For instance, if employees don’t know how to use new technology, its impact will be limited. Therefore, a business should establish a workflow process before implementing any new technology.

Why Businesses Should Be Worried About Mobile Security and How to Keep Safe

WhatsApp phishing campaign that attempts to lead WhatsApp users to install an information-stealing malware. The senders impersonate the WhatsApp notification service and send an email to a user claiming they have received a private voicemail. A user who is unaware of this ploy and clicks on the play button in the email will download malware onto their phone.

Attackers also take advantage of data leakage through malicious mobile apps. Users can get these apps by downloading fake versions of real apps, which are infected with malicious code that steals personal data stored on a phone.

Data can be stolen through legitimate solutions, as researchers found at the end of October 2021, when they discovered a banking trojan horse known as SharkBot in six phoneapps. These apps were designed as legitimate antivirus solutions. The malware could bypass multifactor authentication to steal credentials and banking information, and even transfer money. Although the six dangerous apps have since been deleted from the Google Play store, this goes to show that hackers do not tire of looking for ways to infiltrate mobile devices.

Mobile phones also are affected by web-based mobile security threats when users access affected sites that download malicious content onto a device.

Other security threats to phones include using unsecured public WiFi, lost or stolen mobile devices, mobile spyware, rooting malware and jailbroken phones that become more prone to attacks.

How to Keep Safe

Since phones are now primarily being used as business tools, business owners need to rethink their mobile strategies for both employer-provided devices and bring your own device (BYOD).

Businesses that deploy mobile device management (MDM) tools will block potentially harmful apps, automatically update software, and remotely wipe off data on stolen or lost phones.

Users are the weakest link in security issues; hence, a need for regular security risk-training on social engineering by learning how to differentiate suspicious emails and SMS messages. Users also need to learn to avoid downloading applications from third parties and other untrusted sources and use only authorized app stores. Furthermore, user training should include the dangers of public Wi-Fi, the importance of turning off a phone’s Wi-Fi when not using it, and locking the device with a strong password or biometrics, such as fingerprint detection.

Users also should avoid granting broad app permissions, especially for free apps that may be sending sensitive data to remote servers, where it can be used not only by advertisers but also by cybercriminals.

Keeping device operating systems and other software updated will reduce attack possibilities since cybercriminals use old bugs to hack devices.

It is important to install anti-malware and anti-virus programs on mobile devices since they now face the same threats as computers and laptops.

Businesses can introduce a mobile device policy that employees sign before accessing company resources on their devices or when receiving employer-provided devices. Such a policy includes the dos and don’ts of using phones.

Regular security testing is crucial for enterprise applications as it helps expose vulnerabilities in apps and especially those developed by third-party agencies to ensure the security meets required compliance guidelines.

Conclusion

Mobile phones now have capabilities similar to computers and store a lot of personal and sensitive data. As more devices access business systems, it creates more endpoints that put the business at risk of a data breach. Therefore, businesses of all sizes should take mobile security seriously through strong defensive measures, which can be enhanced with enterprise mobile security solutions.

The Rise in Ransomware Attacks and How to Keep Safe

CISA, FBI, NSA and International Partners, has called for every government, business and individual to be aware of this threat and take necessary action to avoid becoming victims.

President Joe Biden also continuously issues warnings to business leaders to strengthen their companies’ cyber defenses. The risks of cybersecurity are expected to increase with the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

On the other hand, there are efforts to reduce the threat scale by various groups. One such group is the Cyber Threat Intelligence League (CTI-League), made up of cybersecurity experts from different countries. They have helped take down malicious websites, detect vulnerabilities, collect and analyze different phishing messages, and assist law enforcement organizations in creating safer cyberspace.

Protecting Against Ransomware

Before a ransomware attack is fulfilled, there are detectable activities that can aid in mitigating an attack. In any case, the attackers target specific user behavior, unchanged default security configurations and common technology vulnerability. This means that ransomware attacks can be avoided. Some ways to keep safe from ransomware include:

  1. Timely patches – ensure to patch operating systems and other software immediately whenever a patch is released. Patching also should apply to cloud environments, including virtual machines, serverless applications and third-party libraries.
  2. Keep backups – it is impossible to fully protect an organization network as one user action may expose the network to attacks. Regularly backing up data is crucial. However, ensure that cloud backups are encrypted and can’t be deleted or altered. Also, always keep a backup version that is not accessible through the cloud to ensure business continuity in case of an attack.
  3. User training – users are considered the weakest link in the line of defense against cybersecurity. An attack can start with a seemingly legit email containing a link or an attachment that downloads malware to a device once clicked. Therefore, continuous user training and phishing exercises will help reinforce user responses to suspicious emails.
  4. Secure and monitor RDP – as more people adopt remote working, they rely on the remote desktop protocol to connect to office computers or colleagues. This has made RDP one of the most commonly used methods for attackers to gain access to a network. Therefore, businesses should use Network Level Authentication (NLA) and use unique and complex passwords for users to authenticate themselves before making a remote connection. Other ways include multifactor authentication, setting time limits to disconnect inactive RDP sessions automatically, and limiting login attempts.
  5. Use up-to-date antivirus software – this should be used to regularly scan the systems and scan files downloaded from the internet before they are opened.
  6. Network monitoring – use network monitoring tools and intrusion detection systems to look out for any suspicious activity.

The CISA, FBI, NSA and International Partners joint advisory discourages paying ransom to cybercriminals and recommends following the CISA ransom response checklist, and reporting to cybersecurity authorities such as the FBI, CISA or the U.S. Secret Service. System administrators should also follow incident response best practices that can aid in handling malicious activity.

What Does the Metaverse Mean for Businesses

$1 trillion. Hence, the metaverse has a massive business opportunity, including advertising, demand for new hardware, virtual events, e-commerce, etc.

As an example of the readiness for companies to adopt metaverse, consider Nike. The brand has already taken steps into the metaverse by filing for trademark applications, indicating its intention to make and sell virtual branded sneakers and apparel.

Businesses will benefit differently from the metaverse. For instance, companies manufacturing computer chips and servers stand a good chance for a significant gain to their businesses. So will cloud service providers that will be vital for the metaverse virtual worlds.

Manufacturers also will use the metaverse to create digital models of their products using digital twins technology (a virtual representation of a physical object or process). This will help adjust manufacturing processes, carry out quality control, product demos, and simulate the supply chain.

Remote work that was highly adopted due to the recent pandemic will be enhanced by the metaverse. It will be possible to have co-working spaces and carry out virtual trainings and simulations.

It also will help promote physical businesses. By interacting with objects in 3D form, shoppers can try on clothes online, check out houses, cars, etc. The ability to shop virtually means that businesses can design brands to suit different customer needs and increase retail sales.

Such possibilities mean that marketers will need to research customer behavior and preferences in the virtual space. This will require businesses to set up metaverse teams if they want to remain competitive. This is especially necessary to reach customers where they spend their time.

On the downside, there are concerns about privacy issues and data harvesting – like any other technology. The decentralized characteristic of a true metaverse also means it will be challenging to regulate. Such cases introduce risks to businesses. Nevertheless, such risks have never stopped businesses from adopting new technologies.

Conclusion

Customer experience is vital in any business. For businesses to continue maintaining long-term relationships with customers, they may have to adapt and use virtual avatars to serve as customer service agents. Thus, businesses need to be more innovative to tie existing communication channels to the metaverse channel. They can do this by formulating an entry plan to the metaverse while ensuring a balance between opportunities and risks.

Importance of Cloud Accounting Certification

2022 Technology Trends for The Accounting Industry

millions of people quitting their jobs or leaving the workforce entirely. Such occurrences will increase robotic process automation (RPA) to include more efficient automation for critical functions such as payroll, purchases, invoices and payments.

Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Technologies

Although cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies have been around for a while, they are still difficult for most to figure out. However, there is an increased uptake of these technologies. Some countries already have allowed cryptocurrency as a legal transaction currency. As this trend continues to grow, accountants and auditors are tasked to understand these technologies so that they can offer sophisticated service to their firms or clients who invest in cryptocurrencies.

In other areas, blockchain technologies will continue being utilized in validation services such as audit and risk analysis, and balancing and sustaining accounting records.

Advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning 

According to a CNBC TEC survey, 90 percent of executives surveyed agreed that machine learning is critical for companies in 2022, with 20 percent saying they would be willing to invest money in this technology.

There will be more adoption of sophisticated AI solutions that offer better insights, help make data-driven decisions, and carry out basic tasks that take up a lot of an accountant’s time.

Machine learning will be used to develop algorithms that learn patterns in accounting tasks to help reduce mistakes early and avoid wasting time looking for errors. It also will be useful for audits and predictive analytics to forecast future trends.

Although AI and ML may not work well in areas that require creativity and intuition, they can help aid decision-making.

Data Security

All the advanced technologies mentioned above offer promising benefits. However, they also present a new problem in data security. For instance, remote accounting adds a vulnerability that allows cybercriminals to gain access to a company network. Considering that the accounting department holds crucial financial data that attackers target, security is critical for any business.

With cybercriminals using advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, it is now more important than ever to harden access to corporate data. Therefore, there will be more defensive cybersecurity services to handle the rise in security issues that come with technology growth.

Conclusion 

As we forge ahead in the new year, one thing is certain: Technology will continue to be a main driver in the accounting industry. This creates a need for upskilling to evolve with new accounting roles. It also helps to be conversant with technologies that will help meet client demands. 

Considerations When Automating Accounts Payables

Why you should automate your accounts payables

late payments cost small businesses $3 trillion per year, which means your late payments create a domino effect. Your business will also be subjected to late payment fines.

To avoid the challenges mentioned above, you should automate the accounts payable process.

Accounts Payable Automation 

Automation removes slow and repetitive manual tasks and lets you digitally submit and approve purchase orders and invoices.

However, when making any investment, businesses are more concerned about the return on investment (RIO). Rest assured that through automation, you can achieve ROI through reduced employment costs, fewer late fees, savings on invoice processing costs, and reduced losses caused by errors, among other non-financial benefits.

Following are the benefits achieved by streamlining the accounts payable workflow through automation:

  1. Get a more accurate picture of your finances – using automation software gives you access to reporting capability that makes it is easy to get a quick overview of business spending.
  2. Have a better command over cash flow – manage cash better with the help of reports that can be created and reviewed in real-time, which improves AP team visibility and forecasting. Automation will help in invoice prioritization as well.
  3. Improve user productivity – employees do not have to waste time sorting documents. With the data centrally stored, employees only need to run a query to find the necessary invoice or purchase order.
  4. Enable remote work – using cloud-based software makes remote access possible and enables approvals to be done remotely.
  5. Auditing is easy – all data is stored in a central database and can be easily accessed.
  6. Cost-effective – it enables timely payments and helps avoid unnecessary penalties and interest fees.
  7. Reduce overhead staff costs – automation will help reduce the accounts payable team, with no need to hire more staff even when a business grows.
  8. Dashboard and analytics tools – allow access to separate dashboards for the team and approvers, each using individual login credentials. At the same time, analytics gives a quick overview of the whole process.
  9. No manual data entry – scan documents to capture data and avoid manual data entry.
  10. Standardized accounts payable workflow – ensures consistency even if your business has different teams responsible for handling the invoicing data.
  11. Payment reminders – set your system to have reminders when pay dates are near. This will help avoid late or forgotten payments.
  12. Qualify for discounts – with a smooth workflow, the accounts payable cycle will require less time, and you may qualify for discounts from suppliers for early payments.

Conclusion 

A disorganized accounts payable process can run your business down. Choosing the right AP automation software will help improve accuracy, efficiency, quality and speed for your business accounts payable function. Your business also will have a balance between a healthy cash flow and, at the same time, maintaining a good supplier relationship.

Mistakes to Avoid When Implementing Business Accounting Technology

Is Your Business Ready to Outsource Accounting?