It might seem impractical to replace or upgrade your practice management solution. But hobbling along with a subpar solution isn’t a way to grow your practice, reduce admin burdens, or inspire a team.
In a rapidly automating world, with richer sets of data, it quickly becomes evident that your operational ecosystem is a living breathing evolving environment. Reviewing how it stacks up against current requirements should be a regular practice for you and your team.
To keep your finger on the pulse and avoid stasis in your approach to practice management, there are several warning signs you can monitor to ensure you are optimally positioned for all the opportunities for growth that come your way.
Keeping an eye on these factors will help identify weakness in your approach to practice management. Weakness that can lead to poorer client and business outcomes.
1) Poor access to data and insights
Do you have loads of data about your clients, your practice and your team yet have poor access to it? Is client data easily accessible and highly visible? Do you have poor ability to gain actionable insights from this data?
For instance, can your system easily tell you where your practice sits with lock up, WIP, job status, tracking to goals YTD, and trend analysis on how you are tracking seasonally?
This is relevant from the practice right down to the individual, so that you have time to take action and course correct.
2) Duplicate data entry
Are you rekeying data across different systems? Do you have to manually enter data multiple times in your workflows? How much time is spent doing this and what is the potential for human error?
3) Manual periodic reporting
Assess how many manual processes are involved in periodic reporting processes. Do you have any to speak of or is your entire process automated end to end?
4) Real time team goal tracking
Does your team have real time (and up to date) visibility on how they’re tracking in terms of the individual team member’s goals? Do you have the same real time visibility over the broader practice’s goals?
5) Job, budget and billing visibility
Do you have easy access and high visibility over individual client job progress? At a glance, can you see the exact stage of an individual job, including which team member is currently working on what and how this job is tracking in terms of your budget?
6) Team capacity and workload
Do you have an easily accessible and a bird’s eye view over your team’s capacity? Can you see the current workload for each team member, what they’re presently engaged with and what kind of bandwidth they have left over?
7) Poor domain expertise and support
Perhaps you have market leading tools but lack the relationship with your provider to partner on vital solution knowledge and tailoring and personalisation to get the most out of this whiz bang solution?
You don’t know, what you don’t know. But do you know who to ask to get those valuable insights? Do you have vendors, but not partners? Even when you can find the correct subject matter expert, you’re charged for it in every interaction.
8) Remote, flexible & scalable
Does your solution have, or is it working to have, cloud-based functionality to serve the needs of an increasingly WFH workplace?
Can it scale up and down quickly and seamlessly as the demands on your practice fluctuate, are you positioned well for rapid growth?
Can it be tailored to suit the various requirements of the modern multi-disciplined accounting practice? Quite often different teams servicing different client requirements require a different approach.
The case for reviewing your practice management solution
How many of the above pain points correctly capture your experience?
Even if you only ticked off a couple of these warning signs, you’re clearly missing out on the benefits afforded by a top tier, powerful and intuitive practice management solution.
Technology is rapidly evolving. What was fine for yesterday’s tasks is a growing issue that needs to be regularly addressed to avoid tedious workflows, inefficient practices, murky visibility and, of course, less than ideal client outcomes.
With client data sets growing exponentially and the concurrent need to better manage your team’s capacity and workflows, the requirement to keep a sharp eye on your tools and the way you work is also growing.
As Kelly Jones, Head of Engagement at APS, adds on the importance of practice management solution review:
“If you’re always doing what you’ve always done, the chances are there’s a better way and it may be time to review your practice management solution,” says Kelly Jones.
“A year is a long time when it comes to technology and most software companies in the accounting world are moving at pace. Whether that be on improvements to the user experience, productivity, enhancements to automation, reporting or data management.”
‘Work smarter not harder’ may be an enduring cliché, but there’s a good reason for that. Blunt tools will continue to dull the longer you use them, so investing in modern toolkits and solutions will always pay dividends in time saved, money earned and quality of outcome.
Coasting along on what worked well enough yesterday may be a thorn in your side when it comes to competing in tomorrow’s marketplace, retaining the best talent and continually serving your current and future clients to the best of your ability.”
APS is a division of Reckon, an ASX listed company. We develop the software used by the best Accounting Firms in Australia and New Zealand to run their business’ and advise their clients.