By Tyler W.
March 20, 2021
Accounting and Technology – 5 tips to get you going!
Accountants consider technology a challenge, but also know it has the ability to provide increased efficiencies. We help you get the balancing act just right by sharing 5 critical concepts you should be using in your practice now!
I understand technology moves fast, really fast, and as a result business in general moves faster too. The fourth industrial revolution’s core is technology, and that technology plays a more integral role to business than ever before. As a result there is an increasing expectation on every industry to evidence improvement and development on this front.
Accountants and the accounting industry are no different. You do not have to be involved in the industry to be witnessing the increased expectations technology is placing on accountants (the proliferation of cloud management options), however, the CPA Australia My Firm. My Future. report verifies this with nearly half of the accountants and small businesses surveyed identifying technology as their biggest challenge, but then, nearly three quarters also acknowledging it has potential most positive impact on efficiency. Where does that leave accountants in an environment that is challenging, but also necessary?
As a public practitioner (accountant) that built their business leveraging technology, and the continual advancements, I have identified a handful of solutions that every practice should have introduced by now, or at the very least be moving towards quickly. Ideally these solutions will already be in place within your practice, but if not, you should consider making the necessary changes. The reason I make these recommendations is you you do not fall too far behind, from a tech perspective, at any one point.
Catch Up, Don’t Keep Up
It is too hard to try to stay in lock step with technology. You need a strategy to catch up at pre-defined points.
This image is from a recent presentation I gave, and have titled it “catch up, don’t keep up”, because it is borderline impossible to keep up with technology at the moment. It simply moves to fast, and whilst it is admirable or trendy to move fast and break things, it tends to be less profitable to have this mindset when dealing with sensitive client information, as accountants, lawyers and financial advisers do. You need to be deliberate and certain with your technology introductions.
Concepts You Should Have
That brings us back to, what can you be certain with these days, so you are not placing your data or your client’s in jeopardy, and at the same time are placed to succeed.
I stress, what I am going to mention and discuss are the areas you need to be evidencing, not specific products. Two reasons, I want to share the concept, not the product, and without conducting a technology review of your business, any products mentioned may not be appropriate for your operations. There are five key terms that should not be foreign to you at this point:
- Paperless – keeping paper records is no longer an efficient or effective means of storing or transmitting client data. There exist a multitude of resources that allow this to be done seamlessly with most systems, and furthermore the cost of hardware has greatly reduced this former barrier to entry.
- Digital Signatures – following closely on from the prior point, digital signatures will facilitate a paperless mindset, allow for easier transfer of documents between you and your client, and can allow information to be signed in multiple separate locations. This provides a secure means to more efficiently complete your service delivery.
- Portal – if you are doing steps 1 and 2 then this is likely in place as well, but allows for information for the clients to be securely stored and accessible at any time. A portal increases client convenience, and your overall compliance, as is a legitimate means to transfer sensitive information without breaching the privacy act, and will also hopefully prevent any potential notifiable data breaches.
- Document Manager – an accountant’s favourite tool. Dropbox / Sharepoint / Google Drive etc etc are not document managers. These are cloud storage solutions. There is a material difference, and the difference is security. You can consider using these solutions but there are safeguards you need in place to protect yourselves, especially against Ransomware attacks.
- Cloud Based – are you surprised that the culmination of the suggestions is this? This is what we should all be aspiring too, if we are not already there. Cloud solutions free up physical space, generally provide increased perimeter security, scale much quicker and easier, and above all else are constantly updated (as a rule of thumb). The combination of these result in increased efficiency, which as we have identified is what we demand from any technology we introduce. We know accountants are mostly in the cloud now (from a total software perspective), but the time is go all in, and move those final pieces of software to a secure cloud solution. There will exist a way!
Accountants are being forced to lead change, and technology allows us to provide this thought leadership & data in real time, and securely. We all must embrace the change that is being thrust upon us. Hopefully of the five concepts you have some introduced already, but the challenge is to have all five introduced in to your practice. It will help put you in a place to catch up on the technology curve and ensure the longevity of your business. The hardest part about technology is separating the noise from the value, and the easiest way to achieve this to come from a place of knowledge. Collect as much information as possible, and introduce solutions that are best for you and your practice, not just what every one else is doing. Every business is unique, and every business will have unique technology needs. Find your unique place and advance forwards, enjoying the efficiency gains, that you all know are waiting for you on the other side!