Intelligent Accounting: Making The Most Of Cloud Technology
Firms that make a deliberate effort to use technology in their processes will see a significant upswing on productivity, efficiency, and, in the long run, profitability. Technology is a vital ingredient in managing a successful accounting firm. This age-old profession can greatly benefit from this modern gift for a wide variety of reasons.
More Time To Focus On Client-Facing Tasks
To improve profitability, accounting firms need to get more referrals, offer additional services, attract new and retain current clients. Now, these are easy to achieve as long as firms are able to accomplish one thing: deliver quality services.
Now there are many factors that contribute to meeting this client expectation. There’s productivity, efficiency, and proactivity.
The problem is, the current situation of many accountants prevents them from becoming proactive in their jobs. Take meeting with clients, for example. Because they are bogged down with compliance, accountants barely have time to pick up the phone and call clients, much less meet them in person to discuss financial matters.
Based on data we’ve gathered from previous webinars, we found that accountants’ time is consumed by the following tasks:
- Call and email management (56%)
- Client issues (50%)
- Meetings (25%)
- Calendar management (6%)
- Reporting (6%)
Because they are buried in workflow, accountants spend a huge chunk of their day dealing with non-core, repetitive tasks. It doesn’t mean, however, that these tasks are not important because they are. It’s just there’s a better way to deal with it and that is through automation.
Automating these tasks (or getting someone else to do it through offshoring) will free up a significant amount of time for these accountants. This presents them with the opportunity to really talk with their clients.
Streamlined Workflows And Processes
Technology has been a huge enabler for offshoring. Different accounting technologies are available to accounting firms to accomplish certain processes quicker, making them more convenient.
Among the many examples include obtaining document, extracting data, preparing financial reports, engagement letters, and tallying inventory.
When these tasks are automated, accountants are able to get things done a lot more quickly, not to mention the accuracy these automating tools offer.
More Engaged Teams
Technology also plays an important role in fostering camaraderie and efficient working relationships between team members, especially those who work with counterparts in a different location.
Communication rhythms are necessary for managing teams. Sometimes, it can be challenging to communicate in distributed workforces, like firms that have both onshore and offshore teams.
Teams communicate on a regular basis to keep each other updated on the progress of tasks, learn about areas that need improvement as well as where they are stuck. Huddles and regular meetings are also great opportunities to collaborate and help a team member out, which offers even more opportunities to foster cooperation and goodwill.
Technology can influence the success of a team’s communication rhythm because it makes it easier to connect. Online communication tools, like Skype and GoToMeeting, are essentials in managing teams. Obviously, they make communication quick and easy. And while they offer other features that make work even more convenient, like screen-sharing capabilities and video recording, they take care of one vital aspect of managing a successful team: encouraging engagement.
The Problem With Firms And Technology
Despite the obvious benefits, many firms are still missing out. They are still operating the old fashioned way and, as a result, remained bogged down in historical services.
Nick Sinclair, Chairman of The Outsourced Accountant, said, in one of the prospect sessions in our most recent Roadshow series, that it is important to “get the technology in place so people can do high-value work.”
It follows that these firms are unable to engage their clients. And that can cause huge problems in the long run.
Have You Made The Switch?
Cloud technology has disrupted the accounting industry in a lot of ways. It has brought accountants and clients closer together because data is available anytime, anywhere.
Furthermore, switching to the cloud can mean more efficiency for a business. It, first and foremost, secures data. Most people would think that storing data in the cloud is risky, but it’s not. Security breaches, according to an article in research and advisory company Gartner’s website, will be most likely be caused by the customer.
The risks and challenges are not really in the capability of the cloud to secure data but in the policies and technologies utilised by the companies themselves. Don’t forget the habits of the people with access to data.
When utilised properly, cloud technology can also help firms streamline processes, increase productivity, enhance efficiency and reduce operational costs.
However, there’s still a lot to improve on. We’ve found that only 39% of firms are satisfied with their cloud technology setup. It’s interesting to know, however, that no one is extremely satisfied.
Firms need to find ways to maximise the technology available to them. In one of our Roadshow sessions, The Outsourced Accountant Chairman Nick Sinclair said that most firms are probably paying for 10 to 15 apps that they are not using.
Companies do not have the capacity or time to really get to know how to use technology. It is important to invest time and resources to become familiar with its use. This will help you better engage with clients and improve your processes.