The Strategic Value of APIs to Your Audit Practice
As an auditor, you understand the usefulness of data, including how it informs decisions and provide insights during engagements. But do you understand the power of data integration in streamlining the audit process?
With data integration, information flows seamlessly between siloed softwares, removing the need to manually rekey data and increasing your audit efficiency. Today, sharing and exchanging data—even between disparate software systems from different vendors—is easier than ever because of APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces.
What is an API?
‘Application Programming Interface’ (API) may sound complicated and technical, but the premise is simple – an API is a building block that links web and software applications together and allows them to communicate with one another. With APIs, developers can map the various paths that information can take throughout an organization’s business systems. In essence, it opens up new and better opportunities for data sharing.
Learn how APIs work to increase audit efficiency in CCH® ProSystem fx® Engagement by watching our on-demand webinar, “The Strategic Value of APIs."
How Businesses Utilize APIs
APIs provide an easier, faster means to achieve data migration and information sharing. With APIs, businesses can operate with better quality, real-time or near real-time data. That means businesses can find more ways to use and analyze data in furtherance of their objectives.
For example, your nonprofit clients might use APIs to share data between their accounting software and popular applications for grants management or fundraising. Before APIs, the finance team would have exported and manually manipulated that data in spreadsheets to produce backward-looking reports. Some data would have required double data entry to get it into the accounting system. Much of the data would not have gotten analyzed from a combined, holistic and contextual viewpoint.
Major software platforms—particularly cloud platforms—often assemble a best-of-breed ecosystem of partners. To do so, they provide what’s called an Open or Public API, enabling outside software developers to create integrations more easily between the platform and other popular applications. Think of the Salesforce, Google, or Microsoft Windows ecosystems as examples of Open APIs.
Open APIs will play a big part in the future transformation of businesses. Consider a manufacturer making the journey toward digitalization. The company already runs financial, sales and order delivery operations through an ERP system and shop floor operations with a Manufacturing Execution System (MES). Different software vendors built these mission-critical systems. In earlier days, integration was a vast and costly endeavor that required tremendous IT time and effort to maintain. Today, APIs can create many integration points between these systems without coding, using visual drag-and-drop connectivity.
APIs can also help connect the manufacturer to key external supply chain partners. By utilizing an API, the manufacturer can provide (and receive) real-time updates with suppliers, vendors and customers. Many newer digital manufacturing processes, such as 3D printers, CNC milling and laser cutting, are IoT sensor-enabled and come with APIs that give manufacturers command and control plus monitoring and reporting capabilities from anywhere in the world. APIs directly at the machine level (instead of the ERP or MES level) will power new levels of human-machine collaboration, advancing efficiency and innovation.
APIs Deliver Multiple Benefits
As you can see from the examples above, Open APIs deliver a number of advantages to businesses. In all applications, APIs empower companies to share data more efficiently between software systems. This saves time and money. Through APIs, companies can drive new levels of visibility and collaboration across the organization. They can also enhance the customer experience because shared data keeps all customer-facing employees on the same page.
In the realm of digital transformations, APIs can advance a few additional benefits. Businesses gain the ability to share data easily between business systems and business intelligence/visualization/predictive analytics tools. Not only can businesses monitor and analyze performance across the organization, but now they can apply AI and machine learning to find new ways to innovate. With enough access to the right data, most businesses will find ways to turn data itself into new product or service offerings, opening additional revenue opportunities
How Accounting Firms Can Leverage APIs
Accounting firms leverage APIs in similar ways to other businesses. APIs can help connect otherwise disparate systems from different software vendors. By doing this, the staff can avoid having to manually rekey data from one system to another.
APIs can also automate key processes within tax, accounting, and audit workflows to help professionals spend less time on data entry and administration and more time on billable work for clients. An automated exchange of data ensures data quality and avoids errors. You can use data in new ways to make informed decisions about your firm or to deliver more valuable insights to your clients.
Open New Possibilities With CCH ProSystem fx Engagement APIs
There are 7 APIs available for Engagement, each one designed to help accounting firms automate tasks to create an even more efficient audit workflow. Watch this API webinar for a high-level introduction to the use and functionality of APIs in CCH® ProSystem fx® Engagement. We’ll define the what, when and why of APIs and discuss use case scenarios. You will also see first-hand how to enhance the built-in capabilities of Engagement to the benefit of your clients and your firm.