We’ve written a lot of posts about accounting technology: the best kinds, the most transformative and trend-worthy, and how to keep them secure.
But you’d be hard-pressed to find a blog post out there that talks about how to use your accounting technology to set your firm apart without needing to be tech-savvy.
I know, because while researching for this post, I was coming up empty.
So let me set the stage and introduce an entirely new concept.
In this post, I’m sharing two things:
- What technology differentiates firms
- How to reap the benefits of technology without needing to be a technology expert
Keep reading for the full explanation.
How To Use Technology To Differentiate Your Firm
First, let’s talk about the accounting technology that sets firms apart.
Specifically, we’re talking about tech that:
- Saves time
- Improves services
- Secures infrastructure
Timesaving accounting technology
Accounting technology that saves time is the cornerstone of the profession’s progress. The only way to get things done faster is by implementing new solutions to do the same things. Simple as that.
When we talk about timesaving accounting technology, we aren’t just talking about productivity applications. Though those are important, we’re talking about grander, bigger-picture items.
The cloud just may be the biggest timesaving accounting technology out there (which is why we’re listing it first).
How does the cloud save time? With cloud technology, teams:
- Access data anywhere, from any device: Pick up your laptop, phone or tablet and log into your cloud hosting platform to access your applications, software and tools. The ability to see data anywhere may not strike you as necessary at first, but just think: With only a laptop, clients’ information goes with you everywhere. Faster response times = happier clients. Happier clients = more services sold. More services sold = lower client churn. (I could keep going.)
- Collaborate in real-time: Raise your hand if you’ve ever asked yourself (or a teammate) the following questions: “Is this the latest draft? Does this have your changes in it? Did you add your information yet?” With the cloud, you don’t need to worry about that. Changes are saved automatically, ready for your teammate (or client) to view on their time.
- Benefit from automatic backups: Backups are one of those things that you don’t really think about as saving you time…until it’s too late. Because without them, if accidental loss or deletion happens, plan on doing work twice. But with them? You need only to give your cloud hosting provider a call and—in most cases—they’ll be able to load up a recent version of your work, saving you from needing to do things over again.
Machine learning and AI
The mistake that we make when thinking about AI (artificial intelligence) is that it’s going to replace our jobs. Used wisely, however, AI saves us from doing repetitive, often menial aspects of our jobs.
But machine learning has done something far more interesting for us than take on menial tasks: It’s given us time back. Time to educate ourselves, outperform our competition and outpace what we ever thought was possible.
When it comes to accounting technology, AI can:
- Analyze large amounts of data to provide valuable insights.
- Drastically reduce the time it used to take accountants to do the same research.
- Automate anything, from expense management to detecting fraudulent activity to predicting cashflow.
- Help improve decision-making processes by supplying information more quickly and efficiently than ever before.
Read more about why you shouldn’t fear AI in accounting.
P.S.: For what it’s worth—we checked the stats and found accounting firms with Cloud Premier are beginning to favor the following AI-powered apps:
Accounting technology that improves services
Client accounting and advisory services (CAAS) are the present and future of accounting. Just ask Roman Kepczyk, thought leader and director of firm technology strategy here at Right Networks.
We suggest reading Roman’s articles on the subject—but in short, his thoughts are:
- If your firm isn’t embracing CAAS, you’re missing out on a huge growth opportunity.
- Leading firms, consultants, app vendors and training organizations tout advisory as the future of professional accounting services.
- Cloud-driven tech stacks are the key to jump-starting your CAAS practice.
Let’s unpack that last statement.
How does a cloud-driven accounting technology stack improve client advisory services?
Cloud-driven accounting technology:
- Expands your geographical footprint: Anyone with internet access could become a client. You’re no longer held back by whatever niches surround you. If you want to focus on doing accounting for pet spas, you could, and you’d have more than enough business to go around.
- Builds the best teams: Similar to being able to take on any clients, you’re able to hire anyone regardless of where they’re located. Find all the animal lovers who majored in finance and accounting to staff your pet-themed accounting practice. This, in turn, provides better services to clients because your staff loves—and is good at—what they do.
- Secures infrastructure: Arguably the most important aspect of cloud-driven accounting technology? It’s built-in security. Nowadays, what you’re doing about security should be a client’s number one concern. Risks are rampant and it’s the responsibility of the accounting firm to protect data. Show clients you care with the cloud.
Accounting technology that secures infrastructure
There’s so much to “how accounting technology secures infrastructure” that we couldn’t leave it to just that one bullet point.
Secure accounting technology is so important, we’re giving it its very own section.
How does secure accounting technology make firms stand out? That answer is twofold:
- Secure accounting technology keeps firms off the naughty list: You do not want to end up on the list of breached accounting firms. Full stop.
- Secure accounting technology is a differentiator: Put yourself in a client’s shoes. If you’re considering two firms, and one has a message about how they keep your data safe and the other does not…which would you go with? To me, the answer’s obvious.
And now for what you really want: The actual accounting technology that secures firms.
- The cloud: Anything that runs in a cloud-hosted environment is backed up, secured and monitored. The exact specs will depend on your provider, but to give you an idea, this post goes into detail about the security our Cloud Premier package includes.
- Security awareness training: While “education” isn’t the technology itself, it does help to secure your accounting technology. How? By educating the biggest risk to your accounting technology: your staff. People are prone to mistakes; the only way to lower the risk of a successful breach is by educating yourself about how to avoid them.
- Managed security: Managed security refers to just about everything else that your firm would need secured that’s not running the cloud. Anti-malware and security protocols offered by managed security providers will spring into action, isolate impacted systems and ultimately stop hackers in their tracks. (Just ask this firm.)
Stop Wasting Time on Your Accounting Technology
We’ve talked about the cloud—about AI, service-improving accounting technology, secure infrastructures and everything in between.
And by now, you may be thinking: This is nice but not for me.
Because who possibly has the time to consider everything listed above alongside their full-time job? After all, you didn’t major in accounting to become a technology expert.
So, here’s the twist: How do you become tech-savvy without actually becoming tech-savvy? You employ people who already are.
The smartest people in the room aren’t intelligent because they know everything. The smartest people in the room lean on their colleagues for guidance about the things they know little about.
Leaning on an accounting technology provider will then allow you the time back to focus on what matters: providing stand-out accounting and advisory services to clients.
The right provider won’t just provide you with accounting technology and call it a day—they’ll:
- Support and guide you 24/7.
- Never bother you (or plan technology updates) during peak accounting seasons.
- Monitor your infrastructure for threats.
- Transition your focus from operational to strategic.
Stop focusing on IT. Start leaning on a provider that’ll help you grow by revenue, efficiency and capacity. To learn how Cloud Premier gets accounting firms back to the business of accounting, click here.
How Accounting Firm Technology Transforms CAAS