What does value really mean to you, your teams, and your clients?

When accounting practices begin to implement new technology, it's important to remember that it’s not just the software or piece of technology alone that creates the value.

What does value really mean to you, your teams, and your clients?

When accounting practices begin to implement new technology, it’s important to remember that it’s not just the software or piece of technology alone that creates the value. The true value should be derived from both its implementation and the results it brings in terms of increased productivity, new efficiencies, and even new business

It sounds simple, but how often do practices lay out what value really mean to them, their teams, and their clients?  We need to ask ourselves, why are we doing this? Have we really defined the objectives of our project? Have will we measure its success? Will we commit to regular reviews to ensure the investment stacks up? Is the technology going to help us deliver this value? 

Creating a value-driven mindset

In many ways, it’s like running a race. You’re on the start line, and you’re off! However, you have a decision to make. You could sprint to get past the finish line, but how do you pace yourself? Perhaps the race is 200 metres long, perhaps it’s a marathon. Subject to knowing, your approach needs to change. Ultimately, it’s about the end goal and, of course, this doesn’t always have to be purely financial. It could be time saved, process streamlining or practice automation, to name just a few.

Let’s imagine that you have defined what your ultimate goals for the technology or project are, and what you want to achieve. It’s critical to bring your team along on that journey, ensure they feel engaged, and that this move will benefit them in their day-to-day role. It’s important to ensure they understand these benefits and become champions for the project or implementation.

Mindset is critical here. Accountants act as satellite navigation systems for their clients, helping them to define the best route for the business or individual to take. They support them in avoiding obstacles along their journey and empower them in making critical decisions along the way. 

The technology they use is likely to be a significant part of this agenda as, ultimately, that will drive value. The implementation of forecasting technology during the pandemic is a great example of how a specific technology generated value at a given time, driven by a demonstrated need and mindset.

During the pandemic, the need for forecasting increased dramatically. In fact, nearly twice as many SME’s used forecasting during the pandemic than before and a large part of that was supported or driven by the work of accountants. The interesting aspect here is that many accounting firms already had software in place available to deliver elements of forecasting but would potentially only use these with a small percentage of their clients, and usually for very specific needs or projects. However, the pandemic (and the need for a greater percentage of businesses to seek external finance), meant that we saw a dramatic and sudden increase in desire for forecasting tools, both from small business owners and from accountants themselves.

The result of this was that practices saw an increase in the value that software was adding to their firm in the form of client loyalty and client satisfaction.

The true value was derived from the people who delivered the support, empowered by the tools the practice had made available. The technology was a great facilitator.

Here is some food for thought to consider when evaluating new technology, and consider how it may generate value:

Understand why you are implementing technology

Questions to consider: 

  • Who is it for? 
  • What problem/s does it solve? 
  • How will this make the boat go faster? 
  • How wide will the implementation be? (is it one person, one team, one company?)
  • What is the desired ROI?

How do we evaluate the software we are bringing in?

When we consider that any technology procurement will incur budgetary spend, training and a degree of change for the people using it, we must then ensure that we’re properly evaluating its merits, the extent to which it solves pain points and its overall value to the practice and its clients.
Questions for practices to consider:  

  • What’s our plan for evaluating software? 
  • Is it consistent across all teams? 
  • Do we have feedback from everyone who uses the software?
  • Are there simple steps to follow that can be used across all software? 

When is the right time to do this?

Implementing new software needs to be seen as a project and planned as such.  It’s important not to overwhelm people with new technology which could lead to the risk of limiting the positive impact you want the technology to have.

Questions to consider: 

  • Is it always the same people in the same teams implementing new technology?
  • What else do we have going on in the firm? 
  • Is it the right time of year to start a project?

In conclusion, the key to creating value from technology and IT is simple. Define what value means to you and your practice, and consider the three key areas – why, how and when. When we have considered these aspects thoroughly, we can ensure that we are implementing the right technology at the right time for the right reason. A real win/win.

  1. The Corporate Finance Network – Small businesses getting on top of future finances, 17th December 2020
Phil Hobden
Phil Hobden

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