What does good look like? 5 steps to practice maturity
By Daniel Teacher, Managing Director, T-Tech
The appetite for change and the ability to make decisions in the accountancy industry is growing. What is clear is that the pandemic has propelled firms to level up their IT and move towards a modern workplace permanently. Sophisticated technology, together with the pace of change, is sometimes what firms find difficult to keep up with, and there can be a tendency to overlook the opportunities and stick to the status quo.
There are some that are embracing the opportunities and are beginning to lead the herd. Those taking a forward-thinking approach in order to future-proof their practice and people, are taking the maturity path. This 5-step path puts IT at the forefront, and layers up from there to achieve growth, with the adoption of different technology, practices, tools, and processes. Let’s take a closer look.
Getting a good foundation in place
Typically, across accountancy practices, challenges lie in streamlining and integrating core applications, budget roadblocks, and repetitive manual processes. Often there is a lack of any real pressure to advance with technology, and there is no strategy in place to allow technology to support growth. This happens due to lack of attention at board level and our human nature to make do and find work arounds. It doesn’t need to be such a struggle. Laying the foundations is where the maturity path begins:
- an overarching cloud solution,
- Office 365 adoption,
- quality IT support,
- a shift away from paper files,
- and laptops for all users.
You wouldn’t build a house without putting the foundations in place first, so imagine your practice the same.
How are you collaborating?
Lockdown has forced us to find new ways of working and collaboration tools are more critical than ever. Many practices have driven the adoption of Teams and other tools which has been hugely beneficial, but this is only the start. Leveraging collaborative technology and processes to their full advantage takes a little effort to get right but has so many benefits: collaboration opportunities both internally and externally; instant document management and sharing in the Cloud; integrated telephony to rid the old-fashioned desk phone; consolidated on just 1 communication application.
Any practice that is syncing and sharing their documents, using systems that talk to each other, and encouraging modern chat tools, will see an improved and effective collaborative culture across their practice.
Systems and processes that create harmony drive success
Arriving at this stage, the harsh reality hits that accountants still use lots of legacy applications. This isn’t just frustrating for users; cumulatively it comes at a massive productivity cost to the organisation at large. Trained accountants spend a lot of their time copying and pasting information from one app to another in order to deliver service to their customers.
At phase 3 in the maturity journey, adopting best of breed tools, using APIs is the way forward, and will both improve user experience and efficiency to a significant degree. Reviewing workflows across the practice is a great first step to driving efficiencies. Then putting together a good integration plan means that any practice with multiple systems can optimise and meet the modern-day expectations. If your people are too busy to make this happen, experienced external partners can help drive this project forward – reaching out for help is all part of the maturity journey.
The exciting world of automation
The final piece to the maturity jigsaw: automation. Once you have the foundations of good IT, systems and support in place, you can turn your attentions to the wonderful world of automation. Accountants have barely scratched the surface of what is possible when it comes to automation.
There is a plethora of opportunities available and lots of quick wins that can add value. But for a long-term solution that will mature any practice, there needs to be a strategy. Client expectations become more demanding, they want interactions with their accountants, with improved accessibility and ease. This comes in the form of an ‘out of the box’ unique solution we have created for accountants: Practice Gateway. A single and centralised location for every interaction between client and practice.
If you’ve arrived at automation on your maturity journey, you’re in a really good place. This is what good looks like.
Being future proof is a journey to start taking
Achieving greatness for your practice isn’t going to happen overnight and the journey will be different for everyone. Having a plan in place to begin with will certainly set you on the right path. Reviewing the 5 phase maturity structure will ensure you’ve hit all the right areas, help you see where the firms strengths and opportunities are, and give you the boost you’ve been waiting for.
Why we work with accountants
T-Tech are a managed service provider (MSP), specialising in IT for accountants. We provide business and technical consultancy, IT Support, and cloud solutions to accountancy firms across the UK. We pride ourselves in supporting our customers’ in doing what they do best, by showing how technology can add true value to their business and bottom line. In the past couple of years, we have cemented ourselves into the accountancy sector, supporting many of the top 100 UK accountancy firms, and becoming the go-to outsourcing provider.