How to be a firm of the future?

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According to Sage’s The Practice of Now 2019, a majority of the respondents agreed that technology is driving the change in accountancy practices. 56% cited that they experienced increased productivity through technological advancements, 27% considered the time saving aspect as the biggest advantage of adopting technological innovations, 35% of the total respondents agreed that they were early adopters of technology and are continuing to invest heavily in technology to stay relevant in the industry and ahead in the competition.

These statistics indicate that technological innovations in the field of practice management are driving accounting firms towards a major digital transformation. Modern accounting practices must embrace the rapid changes happening in the ecosystem and adopt the right processes and tools to stay relevant in the ever-changing industry.

This blog explores four major aspects of practice management you must consider for becoming a firm of the future.

Contextual collaboration

Contextual collaboration is the process of using software tools which embed the capabilities of many applications such as instant messaging, shared calendars, and document sharing into a single interface. Software applications like Slack, Qount, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Workplace, help you interact, collaborate and share resources with your team as if all the team members are working out of the same room.

For example, you and two others from your team are working on tax returns for your client. While preparing the report, you wanted further clarifications on the data mentioned in the report. Ideally, you will reach out to your client through Skype, call or email, seek clarifications, incorporate your interactions in Excel, if further discussions are required with the client, you might create a task in Evernote to remind you about the must accomplish tasks and finally share the completed report with the client through email or Google Drive. 

If you notice, you need at least 4 to 5 tools to complete a single report and all the interactions that happen on each tool exist in silos, making analysis difficult. This is exactly where contextual collaboration comes to your rescue. Contextual collaboration platforms, help you collaborate, communicate and share resources using one single platform. They also help you to analyze and track the performance of your practice as well as individual team members.

Here are some salient features of contextual collaboration platforms:

  • Real-time communication. Communicate instantly through call, text, voice or chat.

  • Shared resources. Collaborate and share documents or templates with your team or client. 

  • Presence technology: See who is online and communicate instantly.  

  • Efficiency and productivity. Tools and mechanisms to monitor and improve the productivity and efficiency of your practice.

  • Data consolidation.  Transactions , notes and communication on expenses, deposits, invoices,  leads and tax returns all at one location.

  • No more data silos. Build a single source of truth for your practice and maintain a single repository of clean, reliable and authentic data. 

Contextual collaboration tools are gaining momentum in accounting practices. Tools like Qount are designed exclusively for modern accounting firms and offer advanced features for improved collaboration and enhanced productivity.

Standardization of practice 

Do you have a few well-seasoned professionals in your practice who do not require any written instructions for executing complex procedures? What if your trusted lieutenant suddenly decides to leave the practice? Do you have a fallback mechanism for them? Well, the only workaround for such situations is to document all your business-critical functions. When an emergency happens you or anyone else from your team can quickly get things done.

Standardized documents, work instructions, checklists, and templates ensure that every activity follows the same procedure and format, and allow you to work quickly and efficiently.

Here are a few guidelines for standardizing your practice:

  • Flowcharts. Document procedures with step-by-step instructions involved in completing a task.

  • Checklists. Build checklists with all the essential steps required to complete a task so that none of the essential tasks are left unattended or incomplete.

  • Delegation. Develop best-practice templates to guide junior team members of the process to be followed and their key areas of focus.

  • Workpapers. Create practice workpapers with regulatory and legislative mandates required for review and sign-off.

  • Filing and archiving. Specify filing and archiving procedures for storing all the necessary documents together for future reference.

Developing standardized templates and procedures for your critical functions improves the visibility and credibility of your practice.

Global teams

Building off-shore teams, or outsourcing in short, is the process in which a business lends full or part of their business process to a third-party vendor.  Often, outsourcing is considered to be a way to cut down on costs drastically, however, there are many other reasons as to why you must consider building offshore teams for your accounting practice. 

Here is why building an offshore team will be highly beneficial for your practice:

  • Opportunity Costs. Eliminate tedious transactions from your practice and encourage your teams to focus on adding more value to your clients.

  • Highly skilled talent base. Access highly skilled talent base which would not have been accessible otherwise.

  • Innovation. Introduce new ways of doing business at a fraction of the cost.

  • Capitalize on high worth opportunities. Offshoring repetitive and less valued tasks empowers your staff to capitalize on high worth opportunities. 

  • Better Quality control. Bring is better quality controls to ensure the authenticity and accuracy of your processes.

In accounting practices, offshoring is more prevalent in back-office activities which are not as customer facing as other functions of the practice. Technology also plays a major role while offshoring. With more and more businesses transitioning their practices to the cloud, building highly progressive offshore teams is easy and cost effective. 

Data-driven decision support  

Data drives modern accounting firms. From tax returns to individual team performance metrics, accounting practices generate large datasets rich in variety. Data science and analytics help you to analyze humongous data sets of data rich in variety and veracity, build complex associations between financial and non-financial parameters, and generate valuable insights for you and your clients.

Here are some must use metrics for every accounting practice:

  • Accounting Recurring Revenue (ARR)

  • Monthly recurring Revenue (MRR)

  • Churn Rate

  • Customer Life Time Value (CLTV)

  • Average Revenue Per User (ALTV)

Why Qount?

We at Qount, thoroughly understand the intricacies involved in building and managing a modern accounting practice. The Qount application enables you to seamlessly integrate everything from On-boarding, Collaboration, Document Management, Tasks, Work Flows, Payment Processing to Project Tracking in one place, creating a fully integrated experience for you and your customers. 

Qount helps you to create a People, Process, and Platform ecosystem which works in unison towards one goal, Growing your Business!

Swathi Voleti