Accountant meeting with clients.

Bookkeepers are the CIOs for small businesses

Chief Information Officer (CIO) sounds like a big title. The definition of this important role is an essential part of any business that utilizes technology and data. Most small businesses I know rely on these two key roles. However, they never equate that the CIO = Bookkeeper. The positions seem worlds apart, but are they?

In the past, the bookkeeper had the job of recommending, installing and training the small business on the newest desktop software. Two key factors were to help the business owner maintain the financial functions of the day-to-day operations, receiving income and tracking expenses. Software selection was easy – a new version of the old system was updated, and then recommended and installed. Then, the staff was trained on how to use it.

Today’s bookkeeper is similar in the role of advising the software, with no installation required (cloud-based) and the need to educate business owners. The difference now is data, with software updates moving at lightening paces. Months, and sometimes weeks, of latest updates are happening to make the training position a pivotal role in the lives of bookkeepers .

I recently read an article about Intuit® CIO Atticus Tysen and how he revamped the IT department within Intuit. The article talked about the difficulty in moving from legacy software to scaling new software, while still supporting the primary business functions. If we shift this mindset to a small business owner, then you can see how disrupting business for one day is detrimental.

The biggest takeaway from this article is keeping in mind the business aspect (money and KPI’s), and viewing the benefits of the IT implementation, to create a competitive advantage with minimal disruption.

In a large company, this is difficult because there are many people involved and most IT individuals don’t have a business background. Bookkeepers EXCEL in this position! Most bookkeepers have the business experience and understand the financials. Additionally, bookkeepers deal with technology every day and have the oversight to figure out if the software will benefit or harm the company. That’s a huge win for bookkeepers because we can see the impact faster and understand the implications for the small business.

The bookkeeper is on the ground, creating goals and plans with the firm owner. What a perfect way to integrate the purposes of the technology to meet the aims of the business. Additionally, the ability to set up KPI’s, budget and get feedback helps determine if the goals are being met by the changes.

When a company believes that part of the outcome is to incorporate technology and data as a part of the daily routine, the bookkeeper becomes a more relevant piece of the business. Collaboration becomes stronger for the business owner and the bookkeeper to work on setting goals and choose visions that will generate a future successful small business.

Next time you sit down to evaluate your engagement letter, or your role within a small business, think about the value you bring as the CIO to that small business. I believe your championing of this position will impact a positive value for you and the small business.

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