Improving efficiency within an accountancy firm is one of the top reasons we hear for adopting new technologies. However, smoother workflows and increased productivity need to be earned; it’s never as simple as switching to a new app or software.
This reality can often trip you up. If you rush headlong into using the latest tech, without taking the time to consider if it’s the right move for your firm, you can end up right back where you started – just significantly out of pocket.
And funding the switch isn’t the only challenge associated with implementing new technology. It can impact productivity and morale in the short-term, errors can increase while staff become accustomed to a new way of doing things, and security concerns can be laid bare.
So, to overcome these challenges, take a moment and review the following 3 step process.
Step 1: Understand your motivations
Before you introduce a new piece of technology to your practice, you first need to truly understand your motivation for doing so. If you’re clear in your own mind as to why you’ve decided to replace an outdated piece of software, it will make identifying its replacement a great deal easier.
Let’s say, for example, that your staff are spending too much time on manually entering data into a spreadsheet. In theory, a cloud-enabled, automated software solution could save them time that would be better spent elsewhere. However, implementing that software would represent an additional cost to the business, not to mention the time and resource spent on training, and the disruption to the existing workflow as your staff currently understands it.
Now, in the long-term, you should see the benefit of making the switch. Your staff will save time and increase efficiency, turning their focus to more profitable activities. And yet, if you move ahead without giving any consideration to your motivation to adopt this new technology, you can become deterred when faced with the issues mentioned previously.
Step 2: Undertake due diligence
Once you’ve shortlisted a few of the software solutions that meet your requirements, you still need to take a breath and make certain that the advantages for switching outweigh the disadvantages.
Undertaking a period of due diligence is therefore highly recommended.
Work closely with those affected by the change to minimise push back, and encourage an open and honest dialogue throughout the implementation process. If the software offers a free trial, take them up on it and let your staff road test the various options to get a feel for what works best for them.
If you have concerns over security, raise them with the software provider. Then, whittle your choices down to the one that ticks the most boxes.
Step 3: Be patient & address concerns
Now that you’ve identified the software solution for you, it’s important to accept that efficiency won’t be transformed overnight. There are many more challenges to come. Here are a few tips to help you address them:
- Appoint in-house ambassadors for the technology: Spend additional time and resource training a select group of staff members to the highest possible standards, so that they can lead the way when it comes to using the software. This will help smooth the transition and keep morale high.
- Embrace transparency: Try to avoid taking any unilateral decisions when it comes to the technology. This will only serve to frustrate and confuse your staff. Be transparent with your decision making and talk regularly with those impacted by the change.
- Be patient: Introducing new technology is often about short-term pain for long-term gain. This requires a degree of patience and understanding as your staff get to grips with a new approach.
The pursuit of improved levels of efficiency will often demand innovation. The opportunity to solve problems with new technology should be embraced, but the challenges associated should never be overlooked.
By following this simple 3 step process, you should be able to meet those challenges head on, and ultimately increase productivity in your accountancy practice.