Year after year, the pace of technology seems to get faster. There are hundreds of technologies that your practice can consider, and keeping across all the changes would require you to spend all your time researching, exploring and testing. Rather than trying to evaluate everything that exists, a smarter option is to use these strategies to find the pieces that matter for you.
Do more with less
Accounting firms are increasingly expanding the number of apps they use to service their clients – in some practices, the number of apps has exceeded 40. As Scott Lynch from Beanstalk Accountants says, “More apps are not the answer; better apps are. Being able to do more with less, not needing more to do more.”
Each app costs you time to learn, time to maintain and requires ongoing effort from your team to remember what app should be used for what process. Wherever you can, find the app that can do more processes than less. Cloud technology has matured and you should be able to find an app that solves more than one problem you face.
Phone a friend
You’ll rarely be the first to look at, or use, an app that is available, and chances are, your friends or colleagues have already been there. Use their knowledge and find out from their experience who it works best for and what it solves. If you’re short on a network within the profession who likes to tinker, then attend conferences, accounting events or local meetups to find out what products your peers use, love, hate or would recommend. Use the path that has already been trodden to lower your risks, improve your confidence and give you peace of mind.
Set aside time to explore
Even if you’re not a natural tech junky, you need to keep yourself on the cutting edge to stay ahead of the curve. To do this, constantly look at what’s new, different and evolving. As a priority, be on the lookout for new technologies that can speed up your firm’s key processes. Allocate time, even if it’s just 30 minutes a month, to explore, research and test new technologies.
Make it someone else’s job
Researching new technology doesn’t typically pay the bills, but it can unlock new efficiencies that will. While you might not have the time or the desire, someone on your team probably does. Give it to them as part of their job. It will provide them an area of ownership, and capitalize on their passion to provide value to them and your firm.
Depending on their ability, you could make them responsible for researching, experimenting, testing, recommending and even implementing new technologies. One word of caution: be sure to provide them guidance on the maximum number of hours each week that can be spent working on this, or you might find them missing deadlines on their day-to-day work.
Always be replacing
Even once you have found an app to bring life to your new and improved accounting processes, your work isn’t done. Technology changes, new vendors enter the market and your specific needs will evolve over time. This means you should constantly be on the lookout for something better than what you use today. As a result, you should be prepared to replace an existing technology that isn’t working optimally for your firm. However, due to switching costs, you shouldn’t be replacing critical technology frequently, but rather periodically (every few years or so).
Technology is constantly improving and evolving, and being across it all is impossible. However, by using the various tips and tricks above, you can stay ahead of the curve and adopt the right technology at the right time to build and maintain a competitive advantage.
Editor’s note: Be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 of this three-part series.