Firms are changing dramatically, with staff expecting to work when and where they can work, and clients expecting better and faster service for the same price. And as these shifts take hold, practice management systems need to evolve with them, yet too many firms feel that their systems cannot.
Their look and feel is dated and work processes are based on concepts in circulation 20 or more years ago. Too much billing is dependent on waiting for month-end reporting and that reporting often has to be exported to Excel and then manipulated before it becomes useful.
In short, a system installed decades ago may no longer be a fit for your purposes.
Firms are also held back by too much data being fragmented over multiple systems, which makes maintaining data, interfaces, and reporting more time-consuming than the business needs and slows down the speed at which the firm can operate.
Too many partners feel they are making decisions on substandard information simply because it is too much time or effort to get to the information they would really like to see.
All of this may not matter to firms that are happy to keep doing things “the old way” and see no reason to change – after all, accounting is renowned for being a conservative profession. But there are an increasing number of firms, and staff within those more conservative firms, that are not willing to accept that they have to be bound by the rules of how a practice ran itself 20 or 30 years ago (or more).
For them they want systems that work the way they want to work: real-time data, mobile, dashboards, and automated notifications. They also want them to look like other modern applications they use in their personal life.
Research shows that mobile applications that have poor adoption are not that mobile-friendly, and if users don’t take to them quickly, they simply stop using them. So, what should a more progressive-minded firm be looking for in a practice management system in 2017, which is where we will soon find ourselves?
Here is a quick checklist of what is defining the practice management system of tomorrow. It reflects the expectations of those forward-thinking partners and managers who want to have a firm that is more efficient, progressive, and competitive, and that can attract and retain the standard of staff they want:
Ian Thompson is senior manager of Star Americas has extensive experience with practice management and CRM systems, and worked with all of the Big Four firms along with other practices in the United Kingdom and internationally.