Everywhere you turn you seem to find software designed to increase efficiency. This seems to be an ever-increasing trend in our industry as firm look for ways to increase profitability. But too few people realize that software is only part of the solution.
A recent attendee at the AICPA Practitioners Symposium + Tech conference shared with me how many ideas and suggestions were discussed to help firms increase efficiency. CPAs are not only looking for ways to increase their efficiency, but also want to ensure that efficiency translates into increased profits.
Software does allow us to do more in less time. However, it’s not automatic. There are many firms that adopt software only to find the gained efficiencies were not what was promised or expected. Before you look to software to solve your efficiency problems, you need consider the following:
Remember, the best practices recommended by the software company, or implemented by another firm for that matter, are not your best practices. Technology and technical knowledge are two traits that can be similar in many firms. However, there is one aspect of a firm that can’t be duplicated – your team. Your team is unique and so must your processes. Your unique processes will lead to significant gains for your firm.
If you struggle with rolling out new software in your firm, it’s probably because your processes were not aligned with the technology. You shouldn’t have to change your processes to use new software, but rather the software should fit into your firm’s optimal process. Consider the process your backbone, and the technology a tool to help strengthen it.
Often times, the software company will suggest added steps to ensure you are maximizing your usage. However, they don’t ask about the non-technology processes in your firm. Nor do they look at how their software integrates with other technologies you implement. Just because the software has a certain bell or whistle doesn’t mean that you need to use it to best utilize the program for your exact needs.
To illustrate, let me tell you about my new toaster. The old toaster I was looking to replace had a lever to drop the toast down and a variable dial to set the “toast experience.” My new toaster has both those features and three other buttons. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not against technology. I don’t like toasting my bread over a fire either. Yet I just don’t see how a reheat, defrost and incinerate button make me more efficient at toasting bread. So while I bought the toaster, I use only the features I need to efficiently make breakfast.
Implementing new software can provide your firm with increased efficiency and significant value. But you need to ensure that it’s actually enhancing what you do. It shouldn’t cause you to add additional steps to your process that don’t add value to internal or external clients. Your team shouldn’t complain about how they were faster the old way. Technology shouldn’t cause turmoil in your firm.
Every step of your process translates into time you have in the engagement – extra steps cost you money. When implemented, software should help your processes run smoothly while speeding up progression. In the end, you will be able to better serve your clients while earning more profit on each job. To do so you need to look at the physical steps used before, during and after using the technology.
With the continued focus on software to increase efficiency, chances are your firm will consider one of the many solutions available. LeanCPA can help you incorporate new software by helping you develop your optimal process.