By Gregory Harms
Faculty Member, Accounting and Finance at American Public University
Technology is a part of the accounting profession and any good accounting education program emphasizes the use of technology in carrying out the accountant’s job tasks to ensure that graduates have the skills to be competitive in the job market. As technology has evolved from simple calculators to complex auditing software packages, accountants have had to keep up with their technological education. It wasn’t all that long ago that the introduction of Excel and other electronic spreadsheet programs meant that accountants had to become proficient with computers.
Just as accountants have increased their use of technology in their daily work, their employers and clients have also seen a proliferation of technology within their companies. While this can make data collection and reporting easier, it also requires an entirely new approach to establishing internal controls. Technology brings risks, including viruses, malware, hacking, and employee malfeasance. In addition, the human-technology interface is notoriously unreliable; one extra click can change an order of 1,000 units to 10,000 units, creating a nightmare for the accountant who has to figure out the discrepancy.
Accountants need to not only understand how to use technology for their work but also how their clients and employers use technology. Without a thorough understanding, the staff accountant is not going to be able to effectively set up controls for his or her employer; an auditor won’t be able to conduct a thorough evaluation of the client’s internal controls–an essential component of the auditing process..
While accounting has traditionally been viewed as a pencil and paper-based profession, aspiring accountants need to thoroughly research prospective training programs to ensure that they cover the use of technology within business as part of the curriculum. Having a strong training in both technology and accounting will be essential for future accountants’ success in the workplace.
About the Author
Greg Harms has been an instructor at APUS since 2007. He received his MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management in 2002 and has worked for several nonprofit organizations in the Chicago metro area since. He specializes in outcome measurement and compliance management. Greg is currently enrolled in a doctoral program in psychology and organizational development at the Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago.