Recently, (May 2016) our friends at Fathom HQ and Practice Ignition invited System Six founder Jeremy Allen to be a panelist in a discussion they hosted on technology trends in accounting. The unofficial Seattle Beer Week event brought together local industry professionals to discuss the ways technology is helping bookkeepers and accountants tackle day to day challenges, and become more efficient. We had some key takeaways that we’d like to share:
- The use of technology is fast becoming a prerequisite for being relevant as a bookkeeper, accountant, and financial consultant
- The panelists seem to agree that an embrace of cloud-based bookkeeping and accounting tools is required for firms and individual practitioners to be relevant. Those who either can’t or won’t embrace technology will most likely find themselves serving a smaller and smaller group of aging business owners, while being overlooked by most business owners. This could be a big loss, as the older generation of bookkeepers, accountants, and advisers have an incredible wealth of knowledge to share – if they are willing to embrace, learn, and use new technologies.
- Teamwork makes the dream work
- Individual/solo practitioners are consolidating into teams to take advantage of shared expertise, resources, and leadership. Even though a person can start a ‘single-shingle’ bookkeeping, accounting, or financial advisory practice, there is strength in numbers, especially when services are needed consistently, week-to-week, month-to-month, like bookkeeping, payroll, invoicing, bill-pay, etc. Having a team to rely on is key, as one team member will inevitably need a vacation or will experience shifting family priorities. Having a team to depend on makes it possible to serve dozens, if not hundreds, of clients by successfully and smoothly handing-off workload from one team member to another as needed.
- Teams need collaboration and workflow software
- With more bookkeeping and accounting teams, comes a growing need for software services tailored to serve them. Especially as many teams are spread out across geography. Beginning with client engagement and CRM functions, then extending into workflow, recurring tasks, file storage, and more…there is a huge opportunity for a team/company/service provider to come along and provide big value by consolidating several of the one-off tools being used by bookkeeping and accounting firms. In our 15 person firm, we use a dizzying array of tools, from google docs, bill.com, box.com, tallie, toggl, QB Desktop and QB Online, Office 365, Adobe Acrobat, Fathom, and several more. If we had a single piece of software that allowed us to track clients and time worked, monitor recurring tasks, and document the important underlying processes that make all of those tasks happen, there are hours a week to be saved, for each team member. This efficiency gained creates an opportunity to serve our clients with more valuable, higher-level services while keeping our fees lower.