The key takeaways from this session
Implementing technology, getting your team engaged, and getting support
Most, if not all, small to medium accounting practices are implementing digital technologies in some way. And some have found the journey difficult. It takes time, requires expertise, often needs tweaks and fixes, and isn’t easily understood by all. But it doesn’t have to be difficult - with a bit of planning, you can get it right first time. Here’s how.
First, work out why you want to go digital - since this will likely affect the scope and pace of change at your practice. Is it because of legislation? Or maybe because Covid required more remote working and you weren’t ready? Or maybe you want to have more immediate contact with your clients? Whatever it is, be clear about it, and be clear about the business case - why and how is digitization going to improve service quality. This clear vision will help keep you on track throughout your journey.
The second step is to be clear about what you want to digitize. Make a list of tasks that your firm completes in the ordinary course of business. Then identify where you want to introduce automation. Ask yourself: what is crucial to automate now? What can wait a bit? What’s a luxury?
These answers will determine the order in which you tackle digitization issues.
There’s a lot of choice out there, but considering the following points can help you narrow the field and find the technology that works for you:
The next step is to identify a person, or couple of people, who can be internal champions of the change. They will help you “sell” digitization to the business and assist their colleagues with queries and problems. Make sure you go through each new piece of technology with your team carefully. Then select a small group of clients to test the new systems and processes with. Once this is up and running smoothly, and your team is on board, you can press ‘go’ and roll it out more widely.
You’re most likely to use a third-party provider for your technology solutions. They’re not just there to sell you something, they are experts and can be time and money savers. Make sure that you’re aware of how much support a provider is willing to offer before you sign on the dotted line. And if your provider does give support, be sure to ask them not just about problems but about how to maximize the product’s capabilities. No question is too stupid!
Ultimately, digital technologies are there to alleviate rote work so that you can spend more time being a trusted adviser to your clients. If a technology solution isn’t freeing you up to provide a better service, then you know it is time to move on. But before you do, remember our two top tips: plan and engage!