10 top tips to transforming your practice
Daniel Teacher Managing Director
You’ve probably heard the term digital transformation quite a lot over the last year? Along with artificial intelligence, practice automation, robotics process automation, and a bunch of other terms. What do they all mean?
Since HMRC’s move to Making Tax Digital, and other industry regulations, digital transformation is becoming more relevant, but practices don’t necessarily know what to do about it. To their disadvantage, many accountancy firms live in what we call a ‘fractured software world’. They have 80+ different software and applications that aren’t integrated with each other, meaning communication with clients is often difficult and inefficient. Stacks of paperwork and manual processes are holding accountants back to delivering a high-quality service to their clients, and from reaching their full digital potential.
Being a technology consultancy, we at T-Tech understand the importance of having easy processes and applications that integrate effectively with each other in order to maximize productivity. Although we operate with minimal manual processes, we understand it’s not as easy as digitally transforming overnight! But there are small steps you can take to embracing becoming digital, which will make things much easier and inevitably end up transforming your working life… (hence digital transformation!)
See our common questions and top tips:
1. Do you have a digital strategy?
Have you ever thought about how your technology strategy needs to be aligned to your business strategy? How is technology adding value or hindering your practice currently? In this digital age, this is becoming increasingly important.
2. Take a look at some of your current processes
What manual processes are taking up and wasting too much time? Are there opportunities for automating processes that will cut your time spent in half? You will probably recognise a lot of potential here. This is where you can look into practice automation and robotics process automation (RPA). If you can teach a person to follow a process you can most likely get a virtual worker to do it.
3. How about a focus group?
Ask your teams and departments what their daily challenges are. How are legacy systems and processes holding them back? Hearing the challenges on the coal face will help when it comes to making priorities. Bringing the staff on the change journey will also bring success when it comes to implementing change.
4. Flexibility and remote working
This will make it easier for your staff to work, thereby improving efficiency and increasing billable time. It’s much easier than it used to be, so take advantage of that. It’s a top attraction when it comes to attracting and retaining talent.
Examples include hot desking, remote working, collaboration and space optimisation. These factors will enable your staff to work how, when, and where they choose, whilst opening opportunities for cost saving and increased productivity.
6. Do you have a good company culture?
Improving operations and processes within your practice to make it easier for your staff to work, will inevitably enhance and modernise the company culture. Your people are your most important and expensive asset, therefore you should recognise that keeping them happy is important, whilst facilitating operational efficiency.
7. Support and budget are both important.
Make sure these are reviewed before committing to anything. Support from board level members is key. Digital transformation is a big investment, in time, money and energy , but it’s worth it and key to ensure the firm is future proof!
8. Educate yourself and your staff on modern technology
There is a plethora of industry publications, events, social groups, conferences, and more that will give you a ton of insight into the digital transformation world. Resource is at your fingertips!
9. Start small
Not everything needs to happen at once. Perhaps look at one process, say submitting tax returns, and see how the process can be made easier. Perhaps an automated portal for clients to submit their details, saving you time and money on chasing them for their details? Reducing tax returns from 2 hours to 30 minutes will save you huge amounts of time, money, and man power. There is a great solution for this: Practice Gateway.
10. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice
Transformation and change is a big step and takes time and expertise. Speak to your IT provider on how you can work together. And if they are not helpful, we certainly are!
This may seem overwhelming and being apprehensive about instigating digital changes is understandable; your practice is not alone. Many accountancy firms are so used to their legacy systems, they aren’t even aware of how much easier systems and processes could be. Focus should not be on the pain of changing, but about the value it is going to add operationally, culturally, and with compliance and risk protection. There is so much growth potential for firms looking to modernise their practices, which means saying goodbye to the old-fashioned systems and embracing the digital revolution. You will continue to
see a surge into the world of automation and artificial intelligence, with emphasis on virtual workers and robots taking over administrative tasks. Technology and digital processes are the future, and whether you realise it now or not, these will eventually underpin your business. If you’re interested in a Practice Gateway demo, get in touch.