Tech with a touch of humanityby
Technology has much to offer the practice owner, but the human aspect is still essential, says Sacheen Yadav.
When it comes to technological innovation, accounting has come a long way from the pen-and-paper records and bags of physical receipts of the past.
With a dizzying array of tools and programs at the fingertips of the tech-savvy accountant, it’s never been easier to remove inefficiencies with the guiding hand of technology. And, with Covid changing the way many firms operate, as well as the coming artificial intelligence (AI) revolution promising to change the way accountants work, there is no better time to invest. For London firm Pennyhills, technology and practice innovation go hand-in-hand. Starting out as a one-man band during the pandemic, Sacheen Yadav has grown his firm into a successful operation, with offices in London and Delhi.
A tech-focused firm
Citing tech as a huge factor in his firm’s success, Yadav said that innovative thinking was a requirement when setting up his firm at the height of Covid, finding that tools such as WhatsApp paid dividends in the early days. “During Covid, no one was really picking up the phone or wanting to check their emails. WhatsApp was a happy medium, however, as it allowed us to easily stay in touch and offer services,” said Yadav.
And it was this focus on efficiency that allowed Yadav to offer the services of a larger firm.
“As it was just me I couldn’t afford to waste 15 or 20 minutes here and there,” he said. “So, we had to adopt systems to ensure things were done seamlessly.”
Since then, Yadav has further leveraged the benefits of tech in the pursuit of growth. From moving to a paperless environment via Google Suite to integrating Xero’s
digital packages, Yadav noted that the efficiency and time-saving benefits have allowed his firm to focus on the high-value work that really matters. “We’re spending a lot more time on relationship building and we’re able to do that in part because of leveraging technology.”
Of course, reaping these benefits isn’t as easy as just installing the latest software package. “Cost was always a major barrier to entry, simply because, if it doesn’t work, you’re losing resources,” he said. “Time is another costly aspect. Even when a lot of products are plug and play, you still have to spend time getting the team on board.”
Presented with these challenges, Yadav and his team have had to pick tools that fit the firm rather than trying to mould the firm around the tech.
“The key is taking time to research and fully understand what we want it to do for us.
This requires being quite cut-throat and saying no to other players that don’t fit within our ecosystem.”
Looking to the future, Yadav has joined the chorus of those believing that AI will revolutionise the accounting industry. “We’re going to have this almost like conversational-based AI, which doesn’t feel like a robot. It’s definitely going to take some of the ‘dead work’ out of accounting, which is really exciting,” Yadav said.
However, in the short term at least, Yadav argued that the human aspect of running a firm will continue to be essential, adding that the tools are useless without that touch of humanity.
“While AI is an exciting prospect, that human element of an accountancy firm can’t be replaced. We know who our clients are and understand them as individuals, so we can’t completely rely on machine learning.”
This article is an extract from our new editorial special report: “The practice innovation handbook”. Download it now to access expert advice and real-life examples to help you identify areas for improvement in your firm and make changes that will drive innovation and boost efficiency.