Technology and business are more ingrained than ever before. A lot of business has moved online, simultaneously creating additional growth opportunities and introducing more complexity to the mix. As a result, the tools that we use to run our businesses must be sophisticated, powerful, and versatile.
Specifically for accounting, automation was once a buzz word in the accounting industry, but it’s now commonplace at firms across the country. Accounting technology hasn’t turned into an arms race of efficiency yet, but savvy firms are investing in the competitive advantage that’s helping them grow their operations, expand services, and cut overhead costs.
Whether you’re looking to improve your daily work experience or wanting to grow your firm operations, your accounting tech is a major player. But for firms that have already invested in creating a robust accounting tech stack, the idea of starting over or modifying their tech current setup can be scary.
- What kind of training will be required?
- How do I know I’m getting maximum value from a new tech tool?
- How much will it cost?
- When is the right time to revise my accounting firm tech stack?
The answers to all of those questions depend on each firm, its goals, and its existing accounting systems. But to help shed some light on how difficult it is to recreate an accounting firm tech stack, we’ve pulled together some pointers.
Here’s what you need to know about making changes to your accounting tech.
What’s a Tech Stack?
Your tech stack is the software you use as part of your operations. A tech stack includes things like email automation, marketing tools, and the accounting software you use.
Often, the software you use works together, meaning that changing one tool will affect how it works with another. For example, invoicing software could be compatible with accounting software and automate A/R balance updates. Because of this, when you consider changing one software component of your tech stack, it’s necessary to think about how that move will impact your other tools—and if you should change up your entire tech stack at the same time.
It’s up to you to determine how big of a change you want to make, whether it’s one building block or the whole stack.
The Benefits of Recreating Your Tech Stack
There are a ton of efficiencies that can be experienced by switching to newer technologies. Depending on what softwares you’re replacing, you can take advantage of a wide array of benefits.
Cloud software creates more accessibility to the tools and data your firm needs to best serve clients. By moving tasks online, you open up space for improved collaboration and communication. Tasks like auditing become much easier when anyone can access a report at any time. Or in the case of transferring a client, it’s a breeze when everything is online.
Because of this, it’s more important than ever before to have a bookkeeping solution that works online. Making the change from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online opens up opportunities to access the same information anywhere in the world. It also opens up new communication channels with clients, making collaborating and conversing about their finances easier than ever. If you’re looking to expand your customer base, this change opens up the ability to work with clients from anywhere.
As the world becomes more tech based, you’re only as strong as your weakest software. If the competition is using something more efficient, it puts you at a serious disadvantage.
Changing your tech can completely automate tasks, giving you time back to focus on the more important things. For example, if you don’t want to worry about bookkeeping anymore, Botkeeper can completely automate that for you (😉). Making that change alone can cut up to 50% of your overhead costs.
By finding those new efficiencies, you can either grow the services you already offer or start offering new ones. The demand for accountants with specialized expertise is increasing as financial law becomes more complicated and more ingrained in the day-to-day life of people. You can take advantage of this new demand for expertise by expanding into consulting or virtual CFO services.
When thinking of recreating a tech stack, it’s important to remember that you’re building something for the long haul. This isn’t a change that you make every month or year; it should be something with the long term in mind.
When you think of your accounting firm five years from now, what does it look like? How are daily operations different from now? What tasks are people doing? And what tools are they using to do them?
Keep this picture in mind when building your tech stack. It should be able to do all the things you’re imagining the future to hold—and create bandwidth to drive greater value for your clients and higher revenues for the firm itself. If you recreate your tech stack just for what you need today, it becomes outdated when your needs change, which is a likely possibility.
But if you build the tech stack of your future dreams, you’re setting the foundation for the next stage of long-term growth.
The cost of changing softwares is a simple matter of dollars and cents, even when you look beyond a software tool’s purchase price and consider other costs.
Switching to QuickBooks online costs $12.50 a month (for starters), a cost that’s easy to consider. But how about a more in-depth answer?
According to Indeed, the average accountant’s salary is $55,904 per year. This figure doesn’t include additional costs like:
- Time spent hiring
- Onboarding and training your new accountant
- Cost of benefits, paid time off, and other perks
Compare that to Botkeeper’s automated bookkeeping, new client onboarding, and automatic report generation. All of this starts at a mere tenth of the cost of hiring a full-time bookkeeper. How many accountants do you have currently doing reconciliations, month-end closes, and cleaning up the books of incoming clients?
Multiply those savings by the productivity gains you’ll get with more capacity for your accounting team. They’ll be available to handle other tasks, like payroll, budgets, forecasts, and other controllership/CFO/advisory tasks for your firm. Cha-ching!
Obviously, we’re major fans of such a change, but there are other costs to consider when changing up your technology arrangement. Here are just a couple.
Time to Implement
While most tools are easy to integrate, some require you to invest the upfront time in setting them up. Some changes may require you to import records for consistent information which can be a day of work in itself. Plus, you won’t come to really experience the benefits of the software until you get used to the new interface and functions.
But you aren’t making the change for today, you’re making the change for every day after. Set time aside for this change and encourage others to make time to get acclimated. Running training sessions can ensure everyone is up to speed as quickly as possible, minimizing any impact to your workflow.
Because the change will impact the immediate workflow, not everyone will buy into a new software. Some people may be stuck in “the way it’s always been done;” as far as they’re concerned, they’re fine working the old way and fear they may be less productive (or worse: rendered unnecessary) because of the change.
When facing this kind of pushback, keep framing it with what the tool will accomplish for them. Remind them of the tasks that will be easier or completely automated once operations are in full swing—lead with value.
For example, if the tool automates 5 hours of work a week, but it takes 5 hours of time to get ramped up, all it takes is one week for the tool to be paying dividends. By keeping this perspective, people will buy in knowing how it will benefit them.
When Should I Recreate My Tech Stack?
Unlike oil changes or trips to the dentist, there isn’t a recommended set schedule to maintain or revise your tech stack. And honestly, that’s what makes it so easy to put off or let slip completely. But the simple truth is, the more you’re thinking about what your tools aren’t doing for you, the more likely it is you should invest in better tech.
But what exactly do you do next?
Start by having open conversations about how your tools impact the workflow of everyone—including the client side and how making any changes might impact your firm’s ability to offer valuable advisory services. Focus on the main aspects of work that can be improved with technology, like tasks that require communication and collaboration.
Even in conversations with clients, ask what pain points they’re experiencing with your service. Simple questions like, “What challenges prevent you from getting your accounting done?” or “Are you satisfied with how we communicate?” are soft questions that your client is more likely to answer honestly.
Take time and think critically about the tasks you’d love to eliminate forever—how valuable is that alone? The odds are good that a tool exists to help make your life easier in all aspects of the job.
Automation technology helps. But you don’t have to take our word for it; click below to read a case study for one firm that revamped its tech stack with automation, saved $20k annually and got back 26 hours per month!