Over the years, I’ve seen many firms fail to maximise the ROI on their accounting tech-stack due to one key reason: lack of utilisation. It’s an issue I’ve seen crop up time and time again, and there are four main factors behind it:
- Wanting an Immediate Fix: Firms expect accounting tech to solve problems immediately, without them investing any time or effort into learning to use the software efficiently.
- Single use: Tech is purchased to solve a single problem, rather than for all the processes it can optimise.
- Lack of awareness: Firms don’t see or understand the full capabilities of their tech-stack, leading to technology being underutilised.
- Unrealistic expectations: accountants expect their software to be plug-and-play, which it often isn’t.
If lack of utilisation is a challenge for your accounting firm, here are five steps to help you make the most of your accounting tech-stack.
1) Start with ‘Why’
Why are you investing in software? What problems are you trying to solve? What opportunities can you take advantage of? Before you implement any tech solutions, knowing your Why is essential to ensure you also get maximum ROI.
But it’s only one half of the equation – the other half is being prepared to put in the time and resources into incorporating your new tech product into your internal systems. Software is an enabler—people and processes provide solutions to problems. Technology enables this to happen, but won’t do it all for you.
2) Find solutions that will solve multiple problems
Many accounting firms begin their search by looking for technology that only solves one specific problem. This isn’t the best approach—by focusing on a single issue, firms fail to invest in software that solves multiple problems at once. Write a list of all your problems, group them into themes, and get really clear on what you need to solve
Take a holistic approach to each option, and evaluate what opportunities it’ll afford you. Having a full understanding of what software tools can do before you start your journey will save you time and money in the long run.
3) Train your team
Implementing a new piece of software isn’t just a case of making a purchase, and then presenting it to your teams. You’ll need to empower your teams with the time and resources to learn the technology, train their peers, and share their successes.
What’s the end goal? Who is in charge of getting you there? Are there training programs you can participate in? Many software suppliers offer things like kickstart calls and certifications, to help you on your journey. Reach out to your accounting software provider and take advantage of any training options available.
Finally, don’t focus on the people you feel should be driving the change based on title or seniority. Instead, allow anyone who is excited about the new opportunity to lead the charge. They’re more likely to be successful than someone who’s an unwilling participant.
4) Educate consistently
SaaS companies are constantly improving their products—so you should be continually updating how you use them. Subscribe to product marketing updates, ask for product training sessions, and set aside time each week to incorporate new features into your processes.
You can also break down bigger tasks, like building a full report or forecast, into small chunks you can explore in half-hour sessions. It’s an easier way to learn the ins and outs of the product, without the pressure of a deadline.
5) Measure and Monitor
You can only monitor what you measure. Go back to the list of problems you noted in step 2 and decide what success looks like. Is it a reduction in the time you spend on manual tasks? An increase of revenue? Set a tangible goal to meet, and consistently monitor your progress.
To incentivise your team, you could measure success in tangible ways—like tracking hours saved creating a Spotlight Report, as opposed to generating the same report in Excel.
Don’t let lack of software utilisation stop you from achieving your goals
Make the process as manageable as possible for yourself and your team, and celebrate any success you achieve. Remember: maximising your tech-stack is a process that requires time, resources, and effort on the part of yourself and your team. But like all success stories, the effort will eventually pay off in time saved, reduced manual labour, deeper client relationships, fees generated, and higher value-add services, to name a few!