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Tax & AccountingMay 18, 2021

How You Can Kickstart Firm Growth and Plan for a Stronger Tomorrow

By: Wolters Kluwer Tax and Accounting

Last year, we discussed several different ways firms were reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic and how it impacted the firm's staff. A little over a year later, we're looking at how these reactions served the firms who had them – and how each type of reaction can plan and prepare for a stronger future.

Hitting Pause

As the coronavirus brought global uncertainty very quickly, some firms chose to stop all planned activity. It was as though the pandemic brought with it so much uncertainty that they were struck with some form of decision paralysis, choosing to postpone major decisions and capital expenditures until "later." But, unfortunately, they did this without a definition of "later," whether time- or metric-based.

In short, these firms seemed to say, "let's wait and see what the post-coronavirus landscape looks like before we make any decisions." And while early in the pandemic this may have seemed prudent, we know 15+ months later that the firms who took the "wait and see" approach didn't just pause the capital expenditure. They also paused growth and negatively impacted employee productivity. After all, the technology that would have enabled employees to be more effective and productive in an office became even more critical in a remote or hybrid environment.

Unfortunately, these firms are at a disadvantage to the firms who chose to focus on the future and make prudent investments in the right technologies.

Let’s take, for example, a firm that had been considering investing in a workflow and productivity solution – but then chose to not go forward with the investment during the pandemic. This firm, who relied on physical check-ins and being in the office to determine a project’s status, would have struggled to maintain project visibility when staff worked from home. Because of the lack of visibility, additional meetings had to be scheduled, and emails sent requesting project updates, reducing staff and manager productivity.

So how do firms that chose to hit pause early in the pandemic overcome this setback? The good news is that it's never too late to turn and face the future. Start by asking your staff what they need to be productive today. Then, consider what your firm needs to respond to a changing landscape.

Pulling the Fire Alarm

While some firms were struck by decision paralysis in the face of uncertainty, other firms focused entirely on the short-term. Rather than hit pause, they hit "panic," where everything was on fire, and it needed to be put out right now. If there was a tool on the market that looked like it might solve an immediate problem, it was purchased – even if it didn't integrate into the firm's current tech stack.

While it can be challenging to look past the fires that need to be put out today, the firms who chose to do so are now realizing that focusing entirely on the short-term doesn't usually solve the underlying issue. Much like choosing to hit pause on major decisions, focusing entirely on the short term could put near- or long-term growth and profitability goals at risk.

Take for example a firm that rushed to purchase their staff scanners because so many of their clients still provided physical documents, only to have those scanners sit idle as clients – rather than come into the office with paperwork – chose to send those documents electronically. If the firm had stopped to consider the best path forward, rather than react without analysis, they may have instead invested in a portal or client collaboration product that supported sending and receiving documents electronically.

So how do firms quiet the fire alarms and refocus on the future? Start by assessing tools implemented in haste – how are they supporting the firm's success? Are they integrating with the firm's tech stack, or are staff losing productivity because they must update several disparate systems? How is your existing technology supporting firm-wide needs and agility?

Not sure where to begin with your digital transformation? Download Boomer Consulting's step-by-step guide and start your firm's digital transformation today!

Planning for the Future

And then there are those organizations who actively prepared their businesses for the future. Rather than hitting pause or pulling the fire alarm, they implemented strategic plans and found solutions to maintain productivity in remote and hybrid environments.

These organizations may have momentarily paused investments but only long enough to assess their plans and ensure that their current strategy was still the correct one. Instead, they made prudent investments into technology solutions to not only safeguard their employees, customers, and partners in the current crisis but in preparation for the next one.

These firms focused on both the near- and long-term. For example, their employees may have needed additional technology to maintain productivity in a remote environment. The response of a future-facing organization would have been to invest in a tool that integrates with the firm's existing tech stack and one that continues to provide benefits when staff return to the office.

How Are You Facing the Future?

Engage with your staff and ask them what they need to be productive today without losing sight of where your organization needs to be tomorrow. Ask yourself what solutions and tools will help move your organization forward. Focus on the near and long-term; what initiatives and investments will help position your organization to hit the ground running post-crisis? 

To be successful in a post-COVID landscape, ensure your firm's strategic plan reflects changes made throughout the pandemic, and ensure you have a means for holding your team accountable to fulfilling that strategic plan.

Ready to kickstart your firm’s growth? Download the Agile Accountant white paper and learn about the changes firms need to make to adapt to the current landscape, including a five-step plan to move forward.

Wolters Kluwer Tax and Accounting

Wolters Kluwer Tax and Accounting is a leading provider of software solutions and expertise that helps tax, accounting and audit professionals research and navigate complex regulations, comply with legislation, manage their businesses and advise clients with speed and accuracy.

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