Techniques to Keep Your Tech Stack on the Leading Edge
In the last 18 months, the accounting industry went through a digital transformation that technology experts had projected would take up to five years. That's a lot of change in a short period. It’s no wonder that firms are struggling to avoid change fatigue while at the same time keep up with technology advancements – especially since the accounting industry has historically been late to adopt new and emerging technologies.
Meanwhile, client expectations are changing as other industries progress, profit margins are shrinking as tax work becomes commoditized, and workflows are breaking under new working conditions. Meeting these challenges is no longer optional for firms that want to grow or maintain their current client base. It requires a commitment to go beyond convention, beyond traditional processes and business models.
Moving your firm beyond convention requires keeping track of advancements in technology, making recommendations to business leaders, and prioritizing investments in the firm’s tech stack. That’s a lot of pressure for one person with competing priorities and demands on their time. Rather than placing the onus for technology advancements on one person, consider a firm-wide program that leverages the knowledge and curiosity of your staff.
Prioritize Technology Research, Awareness, and Adoption
When the firm prioritizes technology research and awareness by dedicating time and integrating technology into goals and milestone conversations, it is clear to staff that technology advancement is essential. Consider implementing a quarterly half-day meeting, with team members presenting a new technology to the group and detailing how it can benefit the organization. Alternatively, implement an annual team-wide contest with prizes for the best finds.
As part of our commitment to innovation and collaboration, Wolters Kluwer hosts an annual internal coding competition called the Code Games. Over two days, teams “bring innovation to life in an environment that encourages collaboration and friendly competition, with customer needs at the center of our focus,” according to Karen Abramson, Chief Executive Officer of Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting. In 2021 – our eighth consecutive year - the code games saw over 500 participants from 17 countries, and to date, ten code game ideas have been successfully developed into products.
Support the Hunt for Technology
People are more inspired to identify new solutions when leadership and peers validate the effort. For example, when you receive a proposal or new idea for investment, prioritize responding quickly – even if the proposal doesn’t meet the firm’s needs. If the idea has merit, mention it at broader firm meetings, or better yet, bring in the staff member responsible for the idea and ask them to brief the larger team.
Make the Choice to Go Beyond Convention
Accounting firms have a choice - continue down the road of SALY, and watch as their client base shrinks over time, or go beyond traditional business models with innovative technologies that improve efficiencies, optimize flexible workflows, and support more profitable business models.
The process of keeping up with innovative technologies – and determining which technology advancements best support firm goals – may seem overwhelming. But when you support an environment where input and innovation are rewarded, and staff at all levels are encouraged to hunt for new technology, you may quickly find your firm leading the way with innovative technologies that support firm goals and find creative solutions to new and existing challenges.