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What does a Chartered Accountant think of ARKK's Automation Platform?

We recently sat down with our Technical Sales Consultant, Rahila Zahin, to discuss what brought her to ARKK and what makes her so passionate about the platform.


Being a Chartered Accountant, and previously working client-side, Rahila has a unique perspective on accountants’ frustrations with current accounting and finance software and the benefits a forward-thinking platform can have.


What are your top 3 features of the platform?

One of my favourite features is the Consistency Checker, ARKK's AI driven capability. The versatility of the Consistency Checker is what really makes it stand out.


One application that we’re currently using is a line-by-line thorough check of VAT transactions for inconsistencies, this saves an enormous amount of time over having to manually do this and it also helps to improve accuracy. However, you’re not limited to just checking transaction listings, essentially any dataset can be used to check for anomalies such as payroll data or a fixed asset register. The applications are far wider than just VAT alone.


Another great feature is the overall flexibility of the platform. Your data imports don’t need to be in a fixed template, the platform is able to handle ERP data extracts in any format. This functionality also extends to the platform’s adaptability to Excel. Many solutions on the market can’t manage Excel’s XLS format, requiring the file to be converted into CVS. However, ARKK's platform can handle XLS uploads. What this means is that formulas and calculations can remain intact in the XLS file and be directly uploaded, whereas they would be lost with the conversion to CSV.


Lastly, the platform's reporting capabilities are awesome. We haven't built a standardised, off-the-shelf, tool but a robust digital solution that can be tailored to your company's specific needs – reports don’t even need to be directly related to VAT. Exemption reporting, flags and control tables are just some examples of the capabilities of the platform, these will all save time and improve accuracy for tax and finance professionals.


What makes you passionate about the platform?

Working on the other side gives me great perspective. I've had many difficulties and frustrations working with finance software that was tricky to use and didn't have half of the functionality of ARKK's platform.


I feel like now, having worked on both sides, I know what conversations to have with developers. I know what things to look out for and now have ways to provide that information back to them. That way the platform can be tweaked so we can add functionality and incredible value to finance teams. I'm passionate how automation and AI can help improve accuracy within tax teams, that’s always a value add.


One thing to mention, is I love how for:sight is a consolidated platform. All your calculations, adjustments and alterations are kept in once place, it greatly improves visibility. In the past, an accountant’s workbooks were very personal and many of the calculations were tailored to their needs. This was great until someone else needed to make an adjustment and couldn’t figure your specific workings out. Knowledge transfer was difficult in the past, but for:sight massively helps with this.


Our platform is a way to modernise finance, taking it beyond Excel and macros. For:sight can do those types of calculations for you and make sure that you don't have to worry if your data is in the right format - let us worry about that and focus your time on higher priority tasks.


What is current accounting software like to use?

Excel is an accountant’s best friend, moving solely away from that to a different type of system is hard. Many finance professionals still rely on Microsoft's spreadsheet to calculate, adjust and format their finance data. However, there is a tectonic shift occurring with digital transformation and now platforms like ARKK's can automate many of the tedious manual tasks that accountants previously had to do.


The time-saving offered by the platform gives us the opportunity to analyse results, conduct trend analysis and compare figures to provide more insight and value to the company.


Another thing to mention is the rigidity of current software, most accounting solutions require the company’s processes to adhere to what the platform wants rather than the other way around. We aren’t an out of the box solution, ARKK is customised specifically to customers’ needs.


How do you want customers to feel when using the platform?

A one-word answer would be confident. Confident in the knowledge that their tax returns are being managed by a fully compliant MTD solution which has been built from the ground up with that in mind.


Even in the extremely rare scenario of a customer submitting an incorrect return to HMRC, they'd be able to go back and check every step to find out where the mistake took place. The audit trail, previous changes and data history are all recorded and tracked with timestamp verification to provide transparency. Mistakes are usually benign but without the historic information and records in place, it can make it difficult to pinpoint where errors have occurred.


We’ve also built a very intuitive platform, we wanted it to be easy for the end-user to navigate around and complete their VAT return with minimal to no intervention. We do, of course, train users on the platform but many elements are self-explanatory.


How does the user interface of for:sight affect the platform?

I never realised how important a nicely designed and intuitive platform is, not only does it make the user's job easier but also the entire experience more pleasurable. Sometimes it's small changes such as changing a colour or slightly adjusting the placement of an element.


A specific example to use is our colour coding system within the platform signifying the status of a VAT return, this massively helps when you’re working with numerous entities. The traffic light system lets you instantly know which entities have or haven't been filed, and what stage they're currently at helping you prioritise what needs to be done.


How does for:sight help make data lighter?

The holy grail for an accountant is to make their data lighter, what I mean by that is having to manually do fewer calculations and amendments. This can be done within our platform, especially with the consistency checker powered by machine learning, which will automatically look for inconsistencies in your VAT transactional data freeing up valuable time to focus on other tasks.


What did you talk about with ARKK's CTO, Roi Lustik-Cohen?

My conversation with Roi about ARKK's solution was one of the things that intrigued me the most about the platform. With Roi being so heavily involved in its development, the platform's practically his baby, he's clearly got a lot of passion for the product. It was really intriguing for me and I wanted to learn more.


I remember there was one thing that he mentioned which instantly had me hooked. "If you think of a smart system such as SAP and combine it with Excel, you have no boundaries. That's what ARKK will be," after that I knew I was in the right place.