As an owner or partner are you still teachable? If you aren’t, then you better get out of the way because technology is pushing our firms forward, with us or without us. Younger partners and team members are ready to usher in new technology. Are we getting in the way? Things are not going back to the “way they use to be” so you might as well get moving forward. Just look around at the technology opportunities like Skype, the iPhone, Scan & Populate programs and the new client portals we see popping up everywhere. Someday we will receive all data electronically from employers, the IRS and banks. We will have to be paperless and will have to build a digital office. Is that time today? Maybe not it is inevitable. Technologies are changing the way we live, work and play. It may seem overwhelming. It is overwhelming, especially for the technology impaired of which class I am a part of. So, it is imperative that I jump into the deep end of the pool of technology, if I want to thrive in today’s firm. Now, this doesn’t mean jump in blind or in every pool. Pick what makes sense.
I have heard the voices of the accounting industry profess that if you are not in the cloud you are not “in”. Spend time investigating cloud, workflow, paperless and portals. What makes sense for you and for the season your firm is in is not the same as every firm. Technology is not a “one size fits all” decision. You don’t need to follow the crowd. Creative Solutions is not the golden child and Intuit doesn’t rule the world. The options are many….so review and investigate. This is a big part of best practices.
When it comes to transforming my firm with technology and implementing best practices I want to engage and explore things that can change my firm. However, learning new things is not easy, certainly not for me and my age group. I remind myself of how I got here. It took schooling and hard work. I tell myself I am a chameleon. I am intelligent, I am pliable, I can still learn. I am not the “old dog” that can’t learn new tricks. I am being pushed by younger forward thinking professionals. With each new application and mobile device I find myself getting more acclimated. With practice and invested time I am improving my skills. I try to empower the younger team members to take ownership of the changes in my offices reducing my invested time and improving the success of new implementations. I don’t have to do it all. Remind yourself!
I am surrounded by twenty and thirty something team members that can’t fathom a work place with paper. The other day I heard that someone who worked at Apple that there wasn’t one piece of paper in their offices. It’s almost eerie. Can you imagine an office without paper? I can. Now I know that this is not entirely possible in an accounting firm yet, but we are getting closer every day.
With the advent of better applications becoming available, comes new opportunities for improving our firms. With it are new horizons to explore and consider. After 25 years of consulting I am still learning, still inventing, still growing. That’s the fun in it! Every firm I visit I learn something new. I try to implement the things my clients have shown me and add features to our software that’s suits them. I regularly get asked about best practices with regards to practice management. I share what other firms are doing and their successes. Every one of them has embraced new methods of tracking phone calls, documenting client and staff interactions through documents and email. They have reviewed value billing and the related time we spend performing services. They have reviewed paperless methods, workflow changes and new client portal options. If a firm is willing to embrace best practices then Office Tools Professional’s Practice Management Software can transform and renew their firms allowing them to make more money and find better work/life balance.
The most important advice I can give is to embrace technology, don’t ignore it. Hirer and empower your staff to implement new technologies. You don’t have to be 100% cloud or use strictly web software. You don’t have to change your whole firm in one year. Decide what digestible chunks you can implement each year. Investigate and make a plan. Is it using an integrated app or purchasing a few one trick ponies? Is it one application or feature this year and another one next year? If you are willing and invest some time each year you can jump into the deep end and not drown. These efforts can help you implore best practices and turn your firm into one of the best practices around.