Technology in the accounting industry is evolving at a rapid pace. The equivalent of all progress during the twentieth century occurred between 2000 and 2014. In a couple of decades, a twentieth century’s worth of progress will happen multiple times in the same year. Keeping track of all these changes is daunting to say the least.
There are endless technology options your practice can consider, and keeping across all of them would require you to spend every waking moment researching, exploring and testing. Rather than attempting to stay across everything that exists, a better option is to use these strategies to keep up with what is relevant to your firm.
Capitalise on others
You'll rarely be the first to look at an app—chances are there are others in your network who have already been there. Utilise their knowledge and find out from their experience who it works best for and what it solves.
If you’re not friendly with many industry peers who are early adopters, then attend accounting conferences and events to find out what products others use, love, and hate or would recommend. Use the path that has already been walked to save your time and lower your risk.
Set aside time to tinker
Even if you're not a natural tech whiz, you need to give yourself time—even if it's just 30 minutes a month—to explore, research and test new technologies. In this time, look at what is new, different and evolving. As a priority, be on the lookout for new technologies that can speed up your firm's key processes.
Give the responsibility to someone better suited
Researching new technology won’t immediately provide a return, but it will unlock new efficiencies that will. While you might not have the time required to explore, someone on your team probably does. And they might be better suited to it than you.
Consider giving a team member the role of systems or implementation specialist, and make them responsible for researching, experimenting, testing, recommending and implementing new technologies. As a word of caution, be sure to allocate them a set number of hours each week that they can spend working on this, or you might find them missing deadlines on their regular work.
Less is more
Many accounting firms are in the habit of continuously adding to the number of apps they use to serve clients. But as Scott Lynch from Beanstalk Accountants says, “More apps are not the answer; better apps are. Being able to do more with less, not needing more to do more.”
Each app costs your team time to learn and maintain, not to mention the challenge remembering what app to use for what process. Make your best effort to find apps that solve more than one problem—cloud technology has matured and you should be able to find an app that performs more than one process, or better still, brings different processes together.
Always look for a better option
Even if you find an app that improves your accounting processes, your work isn’t done. As you know, technology continuously changes, new vendors enter the market, and your specific needs will evolve. This means you should constantly be on the lookout for something better than what you use today. You should be prepared to replace an existing app that isn’t working optimally for your firm, if you find a better option that will. Always consider the long-term investment—whether the long-term gains in efficiency and output will outweigh the initial investment.
Being across all new technology in this industry is impossible. With these strategies, however, you can make the most of your existing time and resources to stay ahead of the curve, and find the solutions that will give you a competitive advantage.