4 Tips for a Successful Technology Rollout for Your Firm Post COVID-19by
A wave of new technology adoptions continues as we all improve and refine accounting technologies to adjust to what is, for many, a new way of working.
Technology plays a leading role in a client’s experience and satisfaction level with trusted advisors. Your clients are increasingly savvy about automation, AI, mobility and the cloud. Business owners and decision-makers see the benefits of using them in their personal lives. As such, they want and need those benefits for their organizations and they expect their accountants to provide them as well.
While an individual can download and start using an app instantly, rolling out new accounting technologies for a company offers more complexities. It often involves multiple users, revising workflows, learning curves and sometimes even getting past illogically clinging to the status quo.
Whether a new tech implementation is a self-serve portal or payments automation, how do you get fast client adoption of your chosen tech stack? What does your firm need to provide? How do you get ready to implement and onboard your firm and your clients? It’s all about the preparation.
Firms can create an ideal environment for technology roll-outs by considering the following four suggestions:
1. Understand the Need The Technology Fulfills
One of the first questions our team asks accounting firms when they approach us about technology is, “Why are you investing in this?” It opens a conversation into how the technology can ultimately benefit the firm’s clients while aligning with its goals. Ideally, this conversation happens internally before a provider is involved, but often an outside perspective helps it evolve.
This step can also assist you in understanding when a particular technology may not be a good fit for the firm. If that’s the case, it provides staff members with a reasonable response when clients request it. For example, “That technology doesn’t have the functionality your business needs. However, we offer another solution that will help.”
2. Set a Vision for Implementation
Everyone involved should understand why the new technology is vital for both the firm and its clients. Before implementations, explore how long implementation typically takes for firms of comparable sizes and business models.
Consider when you want software up and running and what tools will be needed to make a launch successful. At that point you can establish a timeline and communicate with stakeholders to properly set their expectations. It unites all contributors so they can see the end goal.
Also, be mindful of what will be impacted by new technology. What other systems will be involved? Chances are this new technology integrates with other systems or combines with the firm’s tech stack to offer even more benefits to clients.
What processes need to change? What training is required? How much disruption will this cause for your employees and for your clients? All of these considerations impact the clients even before they are onboarded.
3. Include Goals Focused on Client Adoption
A tech implementation doesn’t end once it’s rolled out within the firm. An accurate gauge of success includes the rate of client adoption. To build these goals, consider how many clients you want to test with and ultimately how many you want using the technology and when. This also helps with the timeline.
With goals in place, you can build backward from the success date and set milestones such as:
“At the end of week two, I want two training sessions. By week three, I want 10 bills paid.”
“I want 15 clients on this application by the end of month one.”
During steps 1-3, your technology providers are an invaluable source of information. They can offer benchmarks, goals and best practices from other implementations to ensure client success, as well as provide you the teams and resources to help make sure you’ve thought of everything.
4. Know How to Communicate Client Benefits
Whenever a firm is adopting new technology, you have results in mind: launch new services, increase profit, keep up with the competition. However, the firm’s benefits don’t necessarily translate to clients.
If clients are asking why the firm recommends they use the technology, hearing the firm’s goals isn’t always a selling point. If your implementation is client-focused, then the client benefits are much easier to identify and share with your staff members on the front lines.
When the question arises, the conversation can switch to a discussion on how the technology will help the client reinvest saved time or gain more insight into their business. A crucial part of this step is to ensure employees feel empowered.
First, employees should have the training and support needed to master the new technology. Providers can help with this step through training and on-demand resources. Ultimately, employee confidence will inspire more significant results when it comes to onboarding clients to technology.
Next, employees should understand the client benefits and be comfortable having that conversation with clients. Why should clients invest the time to learn the new technology? What successes have other clients realized by doing so?
Technology will continue to advance quickly. As it does, more clients will expect it to be part of their accounting processes. Moreover, they’ll expect you to be the one that tells them about it.
Accounting firms that keep the focus on their clients at every step of the technology onboarding process will be better prepared to proactively provide that advice, roll out competitive benefits to their clients and welcome new business.
Jeannie Ruesch works as the Director of Marketing at Bill.com and has been in the accounting profession for more than seven years. She previously worked at Xero and The Sleeter Group. She has more than 20 years’ experience in brand creation and strategy, design, social media development, demand gen, and customer marketing.