Voices

5 ways standardizing technology gives firms a competitive edge

New client, new technology? Not so fast.

Often, new clients ask that accounting firms work with their existing back-office technologies, opening the door to countless headaches, frustrations and inefficiencies for the firm. Who has the time to master and troubleshoot multiple solutions that serve the same purpose? Or wrestle with legacy systems that are outdated and difficult to use?

Standardizing the technologies a firm works with can be the key to gaining an edge over the competition. Think about tax practices: The entire process of preparing and filing tax returns— including the technologies used — is standardized to increase efficiency, reduce risk and file quickly and accurately.

Firms that devote the same attention to standardizing all accounting services can expect similar and significant benefits. Using firm-mandated technology stacks allows accountants to better serve clients, position themselves as trusted advisers and stand out from the crowd.

1. Create power users

When accountants and bookkeepers use the same technologies on a regular basis, they’re better positioned to excel. These technologies are familiar, using them is almost intuitive, and users have the bandwidth to learn each and every feature. Add in solution certifications offered by technology companies, and the firm will have valuable technology experts at its disposal. From a firm perspective, experts like these can scale accounting services for maximum effectiveness. The firm can add more business without necessarily adding to the headcount.

It’s also a great marketing tool for prospects because you can easily demonstrate the conveniences for clients. For example, a prospect complains about the time and effort it takes to approve payments and cut checks. Imagine the impression you make when you demonstrate how to run that entire process from a smartphone.

2. Onboard — and prove value — quickly

When a firm has technology experts on staff, bringing new clients on board is much more efficient. New clients can be signed up, trained and fully running in a fraction of the time it used to take. The power users run like well-oiled machines, setting up access, syncing systems, troubleshooting any challenges and answering questions. As a result, onboarding can happen in days or weeks – instead of a month or more. The firm also gets the financial information it needs and can bring actionable advice and results to clients – putting your firm ahead of the competition.

AT-031217-New Technology Tools

3. Increase responsiveness

One of the greatest benefits of a standardized technology stack is extreme responsiveness.

Manual tasks like chasing down approvals or documents tank productivity. Technology deletes these routine administrative tasks with automation, digitization and mobility.

Standardized technology consolidates information and data, ensuring that relevant personnel have access to client information. When someone is on vacation, other staff members can step in without lags in response time. If a client has questions, staff can find the answer at a moment’s notice. A standardized technology stack gives clients self-service access to financial documents, reports or payment statuses through internet-enabled devices and mobile apps. Clients can locate the routine information they need when they need it, eliminating waiting altogether.

4. Contain costs

When you rely on a number of disparate systems, you’re likely incurring subscription fees for each system and all the users on those systems. That means you’re paying duplicate fees. Consolidating your technology cuts out those extra fees. Instead of paying for five people to use three different systems to process expenses, those five people are each incurring only a single fee by using one standardized system.

5. See the bigger picture

It’s impossible to sustain a profitable business if you don’t understand the big picture. With a standardized, integrated technology stack, accountants can analyze financial data without having to comb through multiple systems and piece it together. In short, they have accurate, real-time data and can guide clients through challenges like managing cash flow, pricing, expansion, and mergers and acquisitions. Having information readily on hand cements the role of an accountant as a trusted adviser and builds that competitive edge.

Standardizing your technology stack and what your clients use to work with you is about more than convenience. By increasing efficiencies and reducing costs, it allows you to beat the competition. If you’ve been looking for that competitive edge that will set you apart from the crowd, turn your view inside and start with your own technology.