Accountants and bookkeepers across the US are often told that the future is all about automation. It's expected by clients, it saves time on repetitive and low-value tasks and opens huge opportunities for practice expansion and higher revenue advisory work.
So why has the level of uptake by firms been so slow? Evidence suggests around 40 percent of firms have invested in automation technology - and many of those that have tend to use it with a limited number of clients. As such, they do not truly experience the heavily touted benefits.
This doesn't seem to be a failure of technology. After all, millions of dollars have been invested by the collective vendors in the software sector and the innovations they've made have been really impressive.
The more compelling explanation is that buying some technology is only a step (and almost certainly not the first step) that a firm needs to make in order to reap the rewards.
Without factoring in the impact of automation on clients, pricing protocols, staff, revenue and profit expectations and a host of other considerations the likelihood is that automation will only bear limited fruit - and may cause disruption that renders those benefits negligible.
As such, AccountingWEB is launching the Realities of the Automated Practice (ROAP) project – a major editorial focus examining all of the components needed to build a coherent automation strategy that will work for you And your clients BEFORE technology even comes into the equation, as well as when it finally does.
Over the next several months we'll be bringing practical advice and structured lessons on how to consider all of the aspects of an automation strategy. Among the highlights, you can look forward to:
- A comprehensive workbook for building a practice strategy for automation
- Analysis of how practice revenues and profits can be impacted
- An in-depth look how staff need to be considered to avoid disruption and optimize output
- A major piece around how a firm can maintain a clear value proposition in an automated world
You'll hear from luminaries such as Geni Whitehouse, Penny Breslin, Brian Tankersley, Bruce Phillips and Carla Caldwell who all have real-life, hands on experience to share through articles, case studies, and webinars. We’ll also be live at the Scaling New Heights and Accountex events, having frank discussions with practitioners about their struggles with automation and offering in-person advice from our thought leaders.
We hope this will be a valuable and meaningful series. Watch this space for this great series as it unfolds over the summer.
About Andy North
Andy has been part of AccountingWEB since 2001 - initially running the UK operation until he moved to the US in 2015 to take over AccountingWEB.com.
Currently residing in Boston, Massachusetts, Andy takes an active interest in how the accounting practice world is changing and evolving on both sides of the Atlantic, and regularly consults with vendors to help them build engagement with the profession.