Accountants and Technology – What’s the Obsession?

Accountants and Technology – What’s the Obsession?
By Samantha Dean

It always fascinates me in our industry how we flock to technology without a clear strategic idea on:

  • What our clients want and are willing to pay for
  • What is the actual service/product we want to deliver
  • What is it that we are delivering now, that tech will replace and make more efficient
  • How are we going to implement it, as any new tech requires change
  • Why do we need the technology
  • What efficiencies are we trying to increase

I soon came to realise that technology only makes you more efficient at what you are already doing and if you’re not already doing it or have a structured approach to starting to do “it”, there’s no use paying for technology.

Early in my journey when transitioning from Tax Accountant to “Business Advisor”, I was guilty of jumping to the next new thing out on the market. Much like a cat chasing light.

I thought if I had the technology or the tools I would have the product and consequently the clients to pay for it. I soon came to realise that technology only makes you more efficient at what you are already doing and if you’re not already doing it or have a structured approach to starting to do “it”, there’s no use paying for technology.

When I got the processes and a system that could be repeated, I could then introduce the tech that made me and my staff more efficient.

Let me give you an example: Cash flow forecasting and dashboard reporting. These appealed to me greatly as of course being an accountant, l love to analyse, forecast and measure!

So off we went and purchased Profit Optimiser (and yes I started this that long ago!). We had the wonderful Mark Holton (now my business partner) in to train 28 of our staff. We all built spreadsheets and systems, had a client workshop, got everyone excited and then…………..nothing.

The problems, and isn’t hindsight a lovely thing, were this:

  1. We had no idea how to engage clients and find out what they wanted
  2. We based our offering on what we thought they needed based on our perspective
  3. We had no idea how to sell
  4. We had the wrong staff involved
  5. We had no capacity to deliver consistently, as we didn’t create the capacity by freeing people from some of the compliance work

In the next few weeks we are going to cover off on each of these issues, so you can avoid the tech pitfalls – like I didn’t and many don’t.

Samantha Dean Author
Director & Consultant
Samantha Dean is a passionate FCA with over 25 years in Public Practice, the last 10 in the business advisory space. She is well known for her passion in advising business owners to achieve their business goals without compromising their personal ones. As a practitioner, Sam knows firsthand what works and what doesn’t when moving a practice from a traditional based compliance business model to a proactive advisory one.
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