[IMGCAP(1)]The evolution of technology has changed the way businesses operate. While this reality has at times led to a more competitive work environment for accountants, it also provides an opportunity for accountants to enhance their role as a trusted advisor and focus on helping their clients grow their business.

Here’s an example of what I mean. When a business owner hires a new employee to fill an open position, they’re not just adding staff—they’re making an investment in the growth of their business. To protect that investment and ensure that the added administrative burden isn’t keeping them from doing what they do best, the business owner will turn to their accountants for advice on the best way to maximize their investment.

This is where a well-informed understanding of technology can benefit your clients. With every employee your client adds, they also add to the responsibility of managing payroll, time and attendance, HR functions, and employee benefits such as health insurance and retirement. There have been significant advances made in recent years to make it easier for business owners to manage these responsibilities—without losing valuable face time with their customers.

Technology-based service offerings can provide business owners with seamless access to their payroll, HR and benefits information, offering powerful capabilities for users across the human capital management spectrum. By providing solutions that can be accessed on desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones, business owners and managers can enjoy the flexibility and freedom they need to manage administrative responsibilities when it’s most convenient.

The development of cloud platforms and mobile applications now provides employers with the fullest set of employee data and the ability to update that information from home, the office or on the road. This technology also allows employees to access important information like paystubs, 401(k) balances and the ability to edit retirement information such as contribution amounts and investment allocations.

And the benefits of these cloud-based systems extend beyond payroll and HR administration. While larger companies have the resources to build accounting systems in-house, many smaller businesses can’t afford that. Fortunately, cloud accounting software offers businesses access to the latest financial management technology without the need to invest in costly hardware and security infrastructure. For many, access to this software-as-a-service delivery model only requires an affordable monthly subscription fee.

When discussing new technologies with clients and making recommendations to help them grow and become more efficient, it’s important to discuss security protocols and services that are available to help them protect the private and personal information of their employees and business. Technology partners should provide information on how they keep sensitive information and data secure, as well as offer suggestions on how to best recognize potential security risks.

As an accountant, you have a vested interest in the continued growth of your small business clients. Through the adoption of technology-based service offerings, your clients can realize greater business efficiencies—and success—than ever before.

Michael Gioja is senior vice president of IT, product management and development at Paychex, Inc.

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