Technology is something that is becoming more and more necessary for running a successful practice. Accountants need to keep up to date with the latest technology in order to provide clients with the best service possible and really cater to their needs.
This article will talk about ways you can improve your practice by looking at new technology options.
But before we dive into the technology chat, it’s really important to take a step back and ask yourself a few questions:
- How forward-thinking is my practice?
- Do we have a good strategy in place to steadily drive the firm forward?
- Is our IT keeping up with the pace of change?
IT is often overlooked and isn’t given the attention it deserves. Luckily, the leading and growing accountant are beginning to adopt a more forward-thinking approach to help improve processes internally and client interactions externally. For practices to lead and mature with IT, they need to recognise that IT is enabling strategic growth and is built up in a number of layers.
Let’s take a look…
Do you have a good foundation in place or do you need to invest more in IT? Do people across the practice value IT and like it? Are your staff and the clients’ journey being frustrated by a lack of investment and focus on IT? Let’s face-it there’s NOTHING more frustrating than a pc that takes ages to carry out tasks that should be quick and easy and it always happens when you need it urgently.
A lot of businesses don’t have time for anything outside of day-to-day operations. Updates to technology get delayed and there is no clear strategy on how best to use IT. Often, there is a lack of any real pressure to advance with technology, so it just doesn’t happen. Systems are disparate and a lot of the time some are better and more useful than others, depending on how well they are governed and how much attention they get. On top of this, the desktop estate is often messy. Some users have laptops, others have desktops, and particularly in the current climate, this doesn’t work anymore.
Before you can start to benefit from modernisation you must have a solid base to work off, this means a complete IT environment that is capable of scale and can run at the pace of modern workforce and applications. It is vital to ensure security and data regulation is managed in a robust fashion so that user experience isn’t impacted whilst ensuring security is at the level it needs to be to protect the practice and clients data.
For practices looking to drive the business forward with technology, first and foremost they need to:
- Move to the cloud. Keeping paper records is an expensive and time-consuming task. Few would argue otherwise. And there are other issues to consider such as physical space. Digitising documents has gradually been replacing physical storage. Speed of access is one such benefit, but there are many more, particularly through the use of cloud computing.
- Have proficient IT support (IT support should not only be responsive to your request but also be proactive in coming to you with measure to stop issues and strategy to move you forward
- Ensure every employee has the hardware and technology functions to ensure they can carry out their job efficiently
- Systems must be kept up to date with the latest updates and best practice configurations/security
To run any successful company, departmental collaboration and employee communication is essential.
Collaboration has never been more relevant with the hybrid office/home work locations. Whether communicating across departments or building on informal working relationships, there has been an increase in the need for effective collaboration tools. The accountancy world isn’t what it used to be, where accountants mostly worked on compliance issues, crunching numbers in their individual offices. Teams need to be able to communicate and collaborate on work instantly and efficiently.
As client meetings have changed forever these tools are also needed to be able to effectively and reliably collaborate with clients.
Collaboration doesn’t just involve ‘teamwork’ anymore – it’s so much bigger than that. Working within your team, across departments, or with your client, requires a complete collaborative environment:
- Full adoption of Teams for collaboration internally and externally
- Instant document management and sharing in the Cloud
- Integrated telephony
- Meeting room integration (same experience for someone in the office vs home)
- High quality meetings with sharing and consistent experience for all
Do your systems talk to each other? Are they well integrated and easy to use together?
Having spoken to many accountants about their challenges and why they are reluctant to change, every single one says the same thing: manual processes and outdated systems are blocking change. Unfortunately, so many processes are plagued by legacy software and inefficiencies which is costing accountants a lot of time and money. More firms are realising that technology can fix this.
Are you aware of automation opportunities that can add value to your practice?
Many firms haven’t advanced with automation in any areas of the business. Processes are often old-fashioned and a lot of decision makers see the cost but not the value.
But client expectations are more demanding. They want easy interactions with their accountants, with improved accessibility. Accountants are expected to evolve and ultimately be ‘future proof’.
Intelligent Automation is paving the way, it not only significantly reduces manual tasks but it also reduces errors and enables more accurate reporting.
Do you have instant access to live dashboards of analytics across the practice, departments and clients?
Having a single and centralised view of practice-wide activities, from client on-boarding, to time, expenses, and financials is just a dream for many accountants.
Having analytics that integrate and support your core practice management applications:
- Reduces time spent on managing the numbers from different applications
- Staff can spend time on analysing data not creating
- Helps during meetings and daily management to look at a multi-dimensional view of all activities across the practice in real time
- Provides clients with a higher level of customer service
If you would like any further information regarding technology specifically designed for accountancy firms visit our website: www.focustechs.co.uk