More Productivity Through Accounting Firm Technology Solutions
One common definition of insanity is, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Perhaps that is a bit of an extreme example, but how often do we complain about business not booming like we need it to, deadlines not being met or approvals not coming soon enough? Yet, we don’t often stop and analyze the processes, themselves, to find out what’s wrong.
Have you ever considered that maybe you and your firm are operating at full capacity, but the growth and productivity you’re looking for just isn’t feasible unless you make some fundamental changes?
Just imagine for a moment that your dreams have come true! As quickly as Dorothy was whisked by the tornado into Oz, you’re now in a world where you can finally practice accounting unfettered by endless, Federally-mandated deadlines, monotonous number crunching, and relentless customer inquiries. At last, you can focus on your core business. What brings you satisfaction and what keeps you coming back to work each day?
Just because most of us don’t have a pair of ruby slippers in our closet doesn’t mean this scenario is all that farfetched … if we’re willing to be open minded.
As the next generation of accountants emerge, more fundamental processes are being challenged than ever before. Gone are the days of being able to say, “Well, that’s how we’ve always done it.” That just doesn’t satisfy the younger generations. Yet, for those who have been practicing accounting a long time, there might be a misconception as to the motivation behind this new thinking. This attitude isn’t coming from a desire to question authority, but rather it’s coming from a desire to use today’s technology to be more productive without the need to be tied down or chained to a desk as so many of today’s young professionals would say.
If you talk to some of these up-and-comers, you might be surprised to hear that many of them work longer hours than the generation before them. What’s interesting is that these youthful innovators are working 12-hour days very differently than the boomers and even some Gen-Xers; they work from home, the coffee shop, airplanes and even while on vacation.
The fact of the matter is that this generation just might be on to something.
Just over five years ago, I was managing local sales territories in Southern California, Texas, Australia and Asia Pacific. Needless to say, the hours were pretty interesting. “BlackBerry” was far from a household name back then. My work-around for being available to my clients and partners on the opposite side of the world was quite the circus act. Between logging in to webmail from home, working another 9-10 hours at my desk, post-dinner webmail sessions and sometimes late-night visits to the office to take care of urgent matters, my schedule was not only inefficient, but very frustrating, to say the least!
With the invention of smart phones, tablets and most of all, cloud-based technologies, accounting professionals have been given the gift of freedom to work how and where they work best. Firm staff can now put in long hours, but do it from home or on the road without sacrificing the ability to stay on top of mission critical information. How would you like to finally take that vacation without losing touch with any of the information flowing in or out of your firm? By automating and digitizing critical business processes, professionals are doing just that.
Clients, too, benefit from these technologies. Mobile and portal solutions that provide access to client information in a self-service manner enable clients to retrieve real-time information without the need to detour you from other more pressing work. While some might argue that automating these types of inquiries prevents that vital interaction between practitioner and client, I challenge that it does just the opposite. Now, you’re free to contact each and every one of your clients on your terms with a positive message, instead of constantly fielding hostile phone calls from frustrated, impatient clients who feel they’ve been waiting too long for the information they want … the information you are scrambling to find for them.
Now, imagine you have it for them instantly – any time and any place they want it.
The next time you feel as if you’re drowning in mindless data entry, you’ve missed that growth target for the month or you know you’re just not running at maximum efficiency, think about the processes you have in place and why you’re doing things that way. Then think back to that perfect-world scenario and remember that there are endless options out there for digitizing, automating and accessing data more efficiently – as long as you’re willing to look in a new direction.