Allow Technology to Transform Your Firmby
As the accounting profession shifts its primary focus away from compliance and toward the more intricate and niche-oriented world of advisory, it may finally be time to embrace artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).
Accounting software and technology services powered by ML and AI allows you to see trends on a macro and micro level, which you can then use to guide your clients toward success. Automation frees your time so you can do a deep dive into client-specific advisory work.
Moreover, the data generated gives you the insight needed to provide the best advice possible. Your firm also walks away with increased profitability and efficiency and there’s nothing wrong with that.
The Tech Disruption Saves Time
Remember what Über did to the transportation industry? Well, the same thing is happening in the accounting field, just a little slower and with a tad more resistance. However, no amount of resistance will slow down the tide!
Clients have become more tech savvy and we, as their trusted professionals, need to keep up. Even before COVID-19, there was a steady stream of accounting software coming to market. Now, with the need to be remote, there are even more solutions out there to streamline how your firm’s work gets done.
Running to keep up with your client’s technical knowhow is officially lazy and we are not a lazy field. So, get ready to innovate and outsource. There are really three ways to update your firm’s tech:
1. Build your own IT department to lead the efforts
2. By merging or being acquired
The third is probably the most realistic option and here’s why you need to take outsourcing seriously...
A typical accountant averages 2,000 productive hours per year. If she spends 50 percent of her time on bookkeeping, she has just 1,000 hours to spend on advisory and higher-level services. Therefore, in order to grow revenue, a firm has to hire additional staff to expand the number of clients it can support.
Software that utilizes intelligent algorithms and predictive technology can automate the bulk of bookkeeping functions. This means you can get up to 70 percent of those 1,000 hours back and you can apply them to work that helps build revenue, services and value for your firm.
Cloud Based Software is the Foundation
Many traditional firms have a bookkeeping technology stack that includes Excel, a workflow tool, QuickBooks desktop and Hubdoc among others. There are services out there like Zapier that can be used as the duct-tape holding all these services together and providing a cohesive interface.
There are also services, like Botkeeper, that either replace or integrate with your pre-existing platforms. But this requires you use cloud-based solutions that enable you to:
- Keep client books up-to-date in real time from the comfort of your home (or anywhere you have an internet connection)
- Provide a high level of security that protects your and your client’s data
- Eliminate software updates
- Access the software from a variety of devices
With cloud-based solutions, you can use a full-service platform that will integrate with your external solutions and, perhaps even provide a white-label solution. White-label platforms have custom website addresses and firm branding. So, when your clients are invited to the portal, it looks and feels like part of the firm’s website.
Botkeeper, QBO and most other cloud solutions are simply technological tool belts for accountants, with various functions that either automate processes or make it easier to perform work from any location.
What Outsourcing Actually Looks Like
Outsourcing should truly be a partnership between you and the provider. When approached in this manner, you should ask for and receive:
- A designated team to collect client essentials and enter the information into the platform
- A personalized coach to monitor growth and progress against predetermined goals and deliver specialized solutions if expectations are not met
- A white-label platform with features like a communication portal, dashboards, secure document management and task manager
The real benefit of outsourcing comes from getting full service conversion. Remember the last time you moved? You probably didn’t realize how much stuff you had accumulated until you had to pack it all up. The same goes with the conversion from desktop to cloud.
Firms often don’t realize how many systems, processes and data points they have until they need to be aggregated. You want your outsourced partner to handle this so you don't have to worry about it.
Determining Your Firm’s Technology Baseline
Every firm has a variety of clients from those who use Shopify and QBO to those that stop by once a quarter with a stack of receipts. It’s complicated! Here’s the thing though, everyone moves at their own speed. That means your firm can determine your own speed. If your minimum is a stack of receipts, well then, what’s your maximum? You need to establish these baselines to truly take your clients to the next technology level.
Start by getting those clients who are already tech enabled, up and running at maximum speed and witness what it looks like to get a client on cruise control. Instead of trying to keep up with your more technologically advanced clients, start setting a bar for all clients.
By taking this leap, you will optimize what your firm can do for clients while cleaning house. And if you have internal discrepancies between teams or partners, setting client standards helps you standardize internal ones, too.
Look outside the walls of your firm for tech solutions to your firm’s ancient problems. Depending on where you are, this could be getting everyone onto QBO, or it could be shifting to the next gear and starting with automated bookkeeping.
Regardless of where you’re starting from, there are proven solutions in the market today that will give your firm back critical time and greater capacity to meet growth goals, increase revenue and meet client demands. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s go!