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Four mistakes to avoid when modernising your accounting tech

PJ Bishop, Vice-President Services, Africa & Middle East at Sage

As trusted business advisers, accountants need a good combination of business intelligence and digital acumen; they need to understand the technology that relates to their service delivery models as well as their customers’ changing needs and demands.

What’s more, they need to go beyond merely using technology themselves and understanding why it’s essential. Equally important, is developing their digital skills and educating clients on how to digitally transform their business. This could include advising on the best-fit financial and business management solution to run their businesses more effectively.

How tech-savvy is your accountant?

With data being automatically processed through automation, accountants can focus more on engaging clients, advising businesses, and creating value. But to do that, they must first enhance their own digital skills and internal technology.

Here are four mistakes to avoid for the best chance of success:

Mistake 1: Not knowing what you want to achieve

There are many reasons to digitally transform your accounting practice such as cost and efficiency savings, better client service, and a competitive edge when it comes to attracting new, tech-savvy clients.

Write down five to 10 key outcomes you hope to gain from your digital implementation and be as specific as possible. For example: “Reduce costs by 15% by December 2021”, as opposed to just “reduce costs”.

Mistake 2: Not appointing a project leader

This person – preferably someone in a senior position with experience in managing transformation – will own your digital strategy, ensure everyone is on board and believes in it, oversee implementation, budgeting, and staffing.

Although this person might not have created the plan, he or she will fully understand it and will be the main point of contact to ensure the smoothest possible roll-out.

Mistake 3: Failing to document the implementation

Everyone should be able to see – at a glance and in detail – the progress made and what’s happening next.

You may need to split the implementation into several phases and create individual plans for certain parts of the roll-out. Staying on top of all the moving parts is key to success.

Project management software can help you to successfully deploy your plan and manage resources, but Gantt charts and cloud-based, single version Excel or Google Sheets templates will also do the job if you don’t have software. What’s more, you’ll increase collaboration and accuracy because everyone will be working from the same, most-up-to-date dataset.

Mistake 4: Not having sign-off processes

As the adage goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. Before you start with implementation, agree on sign-off processes, touchpoints, and milestones.

For example, how will you know when you’re halfway through the project, or when a task is completed? And, considering the tools at your disposal and the data volumes you’re working with, how long do you expect roll-out to take: Weeks? Months? It could even take years if you decide on a gradual roll-out that only affects new customers.

To be more competitive in the future, accounting firms need to enhance their teams’ digital skills and tech knowledge so that they can respond faster to client queries and serve them more efficiently. They need to rethink how they support their clients through a suite of cloud-powered services that create better experiences and build more resilient businesses.


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