The speed at which things are changing now is quite astounding…
Just look at the graph below, the amount that has been achieved in the last 50 years is more than what was achieved in the 700 years before it.
You only have to attend one of the industries many exhibitions or conferences just to see the sheer number of tech and software providers out there right now.
And whilst this signifies an incredibly exciting time for accountants, it can also be a little daunting as a practice owner…
- “Where do I start?”
- “What should I implement first?”
- “How do I go about implementing it all?”
Here’s my thoughts on how you can keep up with it all.
Where do you start?
It can be overwhelming figuring out where to start when it comes to implementing all of this technology.
You start to look into one thing, and suddenly another new piece of software comes on the market all shiny and brand new, distracting you from what you were originally looking at.
And this keeps happening over and over again until 12 months later with all the best intentions you’ve looked into 3 or 4 different pieces of software, but not actually implemented any.
The easiest place to start is actually not in the detail i.e. all the different software, but a more higher-level view.
Split your practice up into different areas e.g. Operations (producing the work), Marketing/Sales (winning the work) and Admin/Team. These are just example areas, you may wish to go into more detail for yours.
Then for each of the areas that you decide, list the different groups (not specific software’s, just software groups) that you might need for that area. For example:
- Operations: Accounts production software, Workflow software, Cloud Bookkeeping software etc.
- Marketing/Sales: Pricing/Proposal software, CRM software etc.
- Admin/Team: Internal communication software, Online diary management software etc.
Once you’ve got that written down, create an ordered list of which software group you are going to implement first by figuring out what will make the biggest different to your practice in terms of:
- Time saving
For example, there’s no point investing hours into implementing new pricing/proposal software if your biggest issues (and potential wins) lie within your workflow not being controlled properly.
Now it’s simply a case of doing your research and due diligence for what is out there for each software group, and then ticking things off the list, one by one, focusing intensely on each one before moving on to the next.
Please note that if you and your team have the capacity to implement multiple things at once then that is fine. But please bear in mind that the majority of issues people face when implementing technology is that they try to do too much at once, without focusing on them one at a time and getting them right.
How do you go about implementing?
Benjamin Franklin famously said “Failing to plan is planning to fail”…
So now you’ve identified where you’re going to start, you need a plan for implementation.
Each of these pieces of technology is a project, and every successful project requires two things:
- A dedicated project manager (not you)
- A thorough project plan
In its simplest form, the project plan should contain a breakdown of all the project steps required to implement this new technology, and for each step there should be:
- A description of what is meant to happen
- A due date by when it will happen
- A person responsible for making it happen (not you)
As a practice owner, it is not your responsibility to complete the different steps of the project or be the project manager. It is your responsibility to be the business owner and hold the project manager accountable to completing the project on time and to review progress at different intervals e.g. 25%, 50%, 75%.
Technology is an opportunity, not a threat
They key point to remember is that all technology is an opportunity:
- An opportunity to do things differently
- An opportunity to do things more efficiently
- An opportunity to deliver even more value to your clients
Don’t be overwhelmed with all the changes that are going on…
Instead, create yourself a plan of attack using the steps above and seize every opportunity that you can to become the firm of the future.