Accounting Automations for Canadian Finance Teams

While the days of the ledger book, and hand recording of sales and expenses are long gone, companies still need to have a 360 view of their accounting. With accounting automation, finance teams can use software solutions to accurately and quick complete tasks that otherwise would take hours or days every month.

Manual Accounting vs. Accounting Automation

With traditional accounting, many tasks are still manually completed. Data is still entered by a person on the finance team. Bank statements are still reconciled manually. Even suppliers are paid one at a time as they send invoices, and wait for the payment to be issued.

With the help of software solutions, accounting automation replaces those time-consuming activities, and allows finance teams more time to work on tasks that move the business forward.

Drawbacks of Manual Accounting

While the time it takes to keep the books up-to-date is often the biggest drawback of manual accounting, there are other disadvantages that many business owners should consider.

Higher Potential for Errors

When you have a stack of invoices to enter, it’s hard to get every detail exactly correct, every time. You might get interrupted by a phone call and miss a line, or you might not notice that the disbursement item was non-taxable. Did this invoice charge GST, HST or QST? Even the most diligent team member will transpose numbers or choose the wrong GL account.

Time Required

Manual accounting tasks take up valuable time that could be used for higher-value work. Think about your highly trained finance team – would you rather have them manually code individual transactions or focus on more strategic projects, like implementing a new ERP system or bringing payroll in-house?

Not only do the individual transactions take longer to manually enter, but the reconciliation process is often quite painful. 

How do you compare and verify the completeness of two sets of transactions? If it’s a set of books and the bank statement, it’s often an exercise in “ticking and tying”, sometimes with printed copies and multiple colours of highlighters. 

Obtaining and documenting approvals is another time-consuming process, especially as most non-finance folks don’t feel the urgency of month-end the same way the finance team does. Multiple manual reminders are common, and sometimes reminders are sent after the approval or support was obtained – the records just weren’t updated, or it wasn’t saved in the right spot yet.


What CFOs and Controllers Look for In Accounting Automation Software

As a finance team leader, finding ways to address some of the common concerns around cash flow, business growth, and profitability is a constant consideration. Accounting automation can solve for many common accounting activities, and address many of the concerns around time, errors, and security. It can also free up time for more valuable activities.

General Ledger Automations

General ledger accounting software easily aggregates financial data across different lines of business, and allows companies to structure business transactions and data to generate financial reports. Some modern general ledger accounting software options include automations for the following:

– setting pre-defined GL accounts for certain vendors instead of trying to remember or checking the process documentation each time to confirm

– connections to live bank feeds to reconcile throughout the month instead of waiting for the formal statement

– setting pre-defined rules for common bank transactions instead of manually creating a journal entry for the bank charges every month

Payroll and Employee Expense Reconciliation

Payroll software easily calculates wages, taxes and generates reports, but often there are still many manual inputs. Some modern payroll software options include automations for the following:

– onboarding paperwork that can be securely completed by the new employee and flow into the database, instead of manual data entry

– time off requests automatically routed to the appropriate parties for approval and vacation days automatically connected to payroll processing, instead of forgetting to forward the email chain or update the excel tracker

– direct integration with your accounting software OR templates to create custom journal entries that you can easily export and import into your general ledger system

Employee Expense Reimbursement

Ensuring your employees get paid, and their expenses reimbursed quickly, can be a lot of work. There is typically at least some confusion about how to fill out the expense report, what codes to use, and the receipt submission process often involves reminders and a lot of follow-ups. Then expense reports need to get approved (sometimes by more than one person) and submitted for payment processing. 

Modern employee expense options use accounting automation to make this process efficient and easy, saving time and money, and giving employees a much better experience than filling out dreaded expense reports. 

Employee expense accounting automations can include:

– pre-defined rules or limited options for employee expense codes to minimize or eliminate the need for non-finance team members to choose a GL account

– the ability to process individual transactions in real-time, instead of waiting for a time-consuming (and often-late) monthly expense reports

– automatically routing expenses for review and approval (some systems accommodate complex policies)

– automatically send out requests and reminders for receipt submission

Accounts Receivable and Payable

Even if your accounting records are paperless, they might still be difficult to access. What was the filename? Which folder is it in?

Modern accounting automation tools store data in the cloud, often attached directly to the related transaction, usually with generous storage limits (or no limits at all). 

Cloud-based document storage facilities give you:

– data at your fingertips when analyzing financial statements. Many general ledger systems have drill-down capabilities where you can click through right to the original supporting document to confirm something is in the right place

– easy auditor access. Instead of pulling invoices and receipts when the auditors provides you with their sample list, give them read-only access to your cloud-based systems and let them find the information for themselves

– maintaining records as required by Canada Revenue Agency

Cash is king, and anything that adds time to the Accounts Receivable process can impact critical cash flows. Modern accounting automation options for Accounts Receivable include:

– scheduled and recurring invoices for predictable revenues

– automated statements or overdue invoice reminders sent to clients

– integrated payment links to make it easier for customers to make payments

Successful businesses need to pay invoices on time and on budget. Modern accounting automation options for Accounts Payable include

– automatic routing of invoices for approval

– pre-defined GL codes for specific vendors

– automatic reconciliation with online payment providers instead of making the payment and separately needing to record the payment

– automatic comparison to budget and purchase order if applicable

How Float Automates Your Accounting

Float’s business finance platform adds significant automation to employee expense and accounts payable processes, along with additional unique features. 

Capture receipts automatically

No more chasing employees for receipts! When you swipe a Float card, cardholders get prompted to submit their receipt via our mobile app, text or email. Finance teams can even set up rules to auto-pause cards when someone is not compliant. Once you try it, you will never go back to manual receipt collection.

Assign Corporate Cards to The Correct GL Account

When you issue a virtual or physical corporate card through Float, you’re able to automatically pre-program the specific GL accounts that card will be assigned to be able to spend from. This means that your finance team won’t need to spend hours chasing down expense reports and issuing payments – the spend will automatically be recorded in the correct account.

Create Vendor Management Rules

Similar to pre-programming specific GL accounts and making rules for employee expenses, you can do the same for merchants. Assigning each of your vendors rules around what GL amount expenses are pulled from, and assigning spend limits to each vendor allows you to stay on top of your suppliers. By automating vendor management, Float helps ensure you’ll never be overcharged, or overwhelmed, with vendor expenses again.

Purchases That Make Sense

As employees use Float cards, they have the option of adding a description that provides context for their purchase. While Float does have the option of pre-defining rules for employee spend management, allowing additional context for each expense helps teams better streamline their pre-approved expense list, and ensures that each purchase is relevant to the business.

Approve spend before it happens

Not only that, teams are also able to automate approval processes. Why is this important? Let’s say that an employee needs a card limit increase to make a larger purchase, or they’re travelling and need a little additional room to spend temporarily.

Instead of needing to wait for the person who holds the corporate card to provide the number, or for the bank to approve a credit limit increase on their own corporate card, a pre-defined approval process can provide that increase in near real time.

Employees can keep spending where they need to spend, without any unnecessary delays to your business.

Integrate with accounting and HRIS platforms

Float also integrates with a number of Canadian accounting automation software solutions including Netsuite, Xero and Quickbooks to help you close the books faster. Our HRIS integration simplifies onboarding and offboarding employees as people join and leave your company.

Adopting accounting automation solutions offers so many benefits to CFO, controllers, finance teams, and bookkeepers and accountants. Choosing an accounting automation solution for your business may take a little time as you consider the needs of your business, but that time will pay off in the long run.

Float: Helping Your Scaling Startup Spend Properly

We took the time to speak with Rhianna, the Finance Director at Properly, a Canadian real estate company with a mission to make buying and selling more customer-centric. While Properly focuses on relieving stress for buyers and sellers, they were also determined to find a stress-free solution for themselves – and Float came through! We discussed the company’s experience using Float to understand what their previous spending policies were and how we made it better. Here’s what Rhianna had to say.

“As a startup, our credit card limit was low and our spend policies were essentially non-existent. What we had wasn’t scaleable and Float turned it all around.”

Q1: How long have you been using Float and why did you choose us?

When I joined Properly in April 2021, I knew the company needed a better solution to manage expenses. By July 2021, after an extensive search, I came across Float and we got started immediately. One thing I liked about Float compared to other options was that it easily integrated with our existing accounting system and had the OCR capabilities to read the tax off any given invoice.

Some of the other options we looked at weren’t able to register different provincial sales taxes, which means someone from our team would have to manually correct them. This was a big deal breaker for me and Float came through.

As a startup, it’s also really hard to get credit cards with high limits unless you put cash deposits against them or have funds held in trust – working with Float helped us avoid all of that. The low limit and single card worked when Properly was smaller, but as we grew it was not sustainable for the needs of our teams. The card required daily monitoring and the lack of flexibility given we only had one card meant employees were paying for costs out of pocket and had to take on the administrative burden of expense reports.

Given that our corporate card was being used by multiple people for multiple transactions, we found ourselves constantly chasing down employees for receipts to understand who made a purchase and why. All of this combined really pushed us to find a better solution and Float checked all of our boxes.

Q2: What were the biggest pain points that Float solved for your business?

Before, spend approvals were coming directly to me multiple times a day. I’m super busy so this would sometimes result in delays and employees were often left waiting for me to approve spend requests. This process was incredibly inefficient and not sustainable for us as a growing company. With Float’s Multi-Level Approvals feature, I no longer have to receive messages or questions about daily spending. These requests now go directly to the department manager for spend approvals of up to $10K, with anything higher required to go through the finance team. 

Another big pain point Float solved was that we’re now able to issue corporate cards per department with higher spending limits. This was especially helpful for our marketing team as their channels often depend on having a reliable financial partner to ensure smooth and uninterrupted execution.

Float also enables smarter budgeting across the company. Everything is displayed on the platform and it’s easier for us to track and review past purchases. So when Marketing sets a budget for  monthly channel spend and then requests an increase mid-month, we have the insights to identify whether or not it’s in budget and question why it’s needed.

Q3: What did spend and expense management look like before Float?

Our one corporate card was held by a number of employees across the company, so there was one group of people actively using it and another group asking me if they could. Tons of requests were coming my way or employees with the card would spend without providing the supporting receipts/ documentation. This resulted in inefficient month ends and time wasted hunting down receipts. I was searching for a better way to improve our policies and Float was deemed the best route.

Our team was growing, spending was on the rise and there was a deficiency in employees submitting their receipts. We weren’t set up to scale. If it wasn’t for Float, the finance team would have struggled to keep up with company growth.

Q4: Which Float feature is most useful to your team and why?

Float gives us the flexibility to set up cards with different titles, controls and spending limits. For example, we can create a card that has a $20K limit for recurring purchases or we can issue a single-use card with $200 on it. Initially, we started off using Float for our marketing team since they were our biggest spenders. But now, our entire company is reaping the benefits. 

Float also gives our finance team the power to spot and audit expenses coming through in real time. Instead of waiting until month end or year end to review expenses or any unusual purchases, we can check in whenever we want. Now that Float has the Multi-Level approval feature, we’re able to align all of our employees with our budget and approval limits for 2022 and give our department managers more responsibility. The middle man (me!) has been removed and managers have greater autonomy to oversee team spending and their overall budgets

Q5: What is the best part about working with Float?

“At Properly, one of our cultural norms is to “act like an owner” and Float enables our managers to do just that.”

Honestly, it’s the simplicity. Float makes it so easy to issue individual corporate cards to employees, while making it even easier for our finance team to track and manage corporate spending. Also, the autonomy it’s provided to our managers is next level. Our managers own their budget, have the ability to approve spend requests and can analyze everything on a daily basis to ensure their team isn’t abusing their spending power. It gives them more accountability and shows that we trust them –  it’s a win-win.

About Properly

Combining top talent, innovation and technology, Properly transforms the real estate experience for Canadians. From dreaming about buying a new home to closing the sale and everything in between, Properly delivers a stress-free, full-service and modern way to buy and sell your home. 

If you’re looking for a smarter way to track and manage your corporate spending, book a demo with our team to learn more!