Leveraging Technology for Growing Your Business
What accounting firms doesn’t want to save time and money, improve customer service, and minimize errors? Leveraging technology – or choosing the right digital tools for your firm can do that. The field of technology solutions has grown exponentially over the last decade, and selecting the perfect mix to support your goals can be challenging.
Here is an outline to structure your thinking and guide your next steps.
1. Leveraging client connections
Attracting the right prospects, and delivering exceptional service to your clients, are the two cornerstones of any professional practice. Today’s technology allows you to do both 24/7, but not necessarily through personal interaction. Here are some options to consider.
- Client portals built into your firm’s website can allow your clients to access reports and relevant files when and where they need it.
- Blogging can be a platform for staying in touch with clients, as well as building a relationship with prospects.
- Webinars allow you to share valuable information with a group of clients or prospects without incurring travel costs.
- As your firm grows in terms of clients as well as staff, it becomes increasingly important to keep all client records in one central place – so that anyone on your team is on the same page when it comes to client contact. Choosing the right CRM can make a difference.
- For some professional practice, offering secure electronic document vaults can add significant value to clients.
- Interactive website features can allow prospects to get to know your firm before committing to an appointment – think dating before marriage.
No matter what outreach strategy you select, consider whether you have the time and resources to implement it in a disciplined, consistent manner. Too many accountants launch a blog, just to lose momentum a month or two later. Commit actionable steps to your calendar for better accountability.
2. Leveraging internal collaboration
Effective communication is key to project management and internal collaboration. Consider what tools your staff needs to boost their efficiency and share knowledge.
- Project management platforms are critical if your firm is running multiple complex projects at the same time. Cloud-based solutions offer the benefits of mobility, build-in backup capability, and connectivity at a reasonable monthly rate. Compare your options side-by-side, and identify functionality that is mission-critical for your practice. When implemented and managed effectively, project management platforms can cut down on the time spent in meetings and free up your staff to focus on making progress. In addition, task assignments and progress updates are live, recorded, and searchable.
- Instant communication can offer your staff the convenience of access to each other at the touch of a button.
3. Leveraging efficiency
Consider the “black holes” that seem to consume time and energy within your firm. Perhaps it is the need to search the file room for a paper copy of a proposal from 7 years ago. Or it could be the need to re-type client data from one program window into another, taking up valuable time and leading to human error.
- Mobile access through Cloud of SaaS technology can allow your team to work on the go. This goes beyond getting e-mail on smartphones! Ability to connect to the office database and download a critical file can make the difference between meeting a deadline and disappointing a client. Consider client confidentiality, and be sure access routes are secure.
- The idea of a paperless office appeals to many professionals as they make the shift away from stacks of files towards electronic documents. No more digging in the dusty file room!
- System integration can eliminate cumbersome spreadsheets and multiple data entry, saving time and minimizing mistakes.
Whatever technology tools you consider, remember that you don’t have to do this alone. Start with an overall vision and strategy for your firm. Do you research, and consult experts if necessary. Technology is most effective when woven into the fabric of the professional practice – so training your staff on using the new tools is critical for impact and adoption.