The Impact of Self‐Service Applications on Corporate Accounting and Its Customers

Date01 September 2015
Published date01 September 2015
© 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Published online in Wiley Online Library (
DOI 10.1002/jcaf.22084
The Impact of Self‐Service Applications
on Corporate Accounting and Its
Phil Binkow
Self‐service is
creating a sea
of change in
customer service
innearly every
industry—for exter-
nal customers, for
internal customers,
and for corporate
staff responsible for
serving both con-
stituencies. This trend
is having salutary
effects on corporate
accounting and finan-
cial departments—
primarily by reducing
costs and increas-
ing satisfaction of
internal and external
The fundamental
principle of cus-
tomer self‐service is
to provide a com-
pany’s internal and
external customers
the power—usually
via an automated,
online software
application—to get
the information they
want, anytime they
want it, by them-
For external
customers, we see
such applications
in online banking,
air travel preflight
check‐in, express
shipment tracking,
auto insurance pric-
ing, and account
status look‐up for
many online retail-
ers. For internal cus-
tomers, self‐service
is now being used
by HR to provide
employees access to
their timesheet and
vacation and benefits
status, by procure-
ment to streamline
the purchasing
process for internal
customers, and by
accounting managers
to automate a variety
of financial supply
chain functions, such
Automated customer self‐service represents a
powerful trend in a broad range of consumer and
business environments, including, increasingly,
the corporate accounting department. Self‐ service
applications offer two compelling benefits to
accounting departments: (1) substantial cost sav-
ings due primarily to reduced staffing necessary
to serve external and internal customers, and
(2) increased satisfaction on the part of those
customers. Because of the increased demand in
our society for customer self‐service, organiza-
tions that provide it may also reap reputational
benefits. While some accounting departments
have acquired self‐service automation as part of
company‐wide enterprise resource planning (ERP)
software, such systems require large expendi-
tures, as well as buy‐in across many departments,
including often resource‐strapped information
technology (IT) departments. Research shows that
many ERP systems also experience implementa-
tion budget and schedule overruns. Alternatively,
some accounting departments are adopting more
highly targeted, remotely sited online self‐service
applications, which bring costs down by orders of
magnitude, while reducing IT requirements and
shortening implementation times.
© 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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