Gathering support: How to introduce new technology into your accounting firm
Whether or not your accounting firm is successful, future-proofing is becoming increasingly dependent on the extent to which you know how to use the right technology.
If you want to adopt new and modern technology, you have a choice to update existing systems or opt for a completely new software package. Whichever choice you make, it’s important to think carefully about how you’re introducing new technology to your firm.
The introduction of new technology can be a fraught process with serious repercussions if not handled correctly.
In this four part blog series, we’ll discuss all the steps you can take to introduce new technology to your future practice. We will be following the four stages:
- Gather support
- The right technology choice
- A plan for a successful implementation
- Optimal use
The first step is to gather support.
Are you thinking about introducing new technology? Determine your direction and collect support within your firm. Before you commit to new technology including software, it’s important to link it to your business strategy. Only if you follow a clear direction will people be prepared to invest time and energy.
Department managers, team leaders or employees always want to know which new applications are meaningful for themselves, their team members and relevant business processes.
By explaining clearly, you will gain support for how the new applications fit within the business strategy. And that is extremely important because without support, every attempt to bring about change is doomed to fail. The implementation stops right there.
To improve your chances of success, you can use these tips to create support within your firm:
1) Convince your management
It’s important to get support from the managers within your firm at an early stage. At a later stage you can still have room to negotiate all the details, such as the final choice of technology, implementation details and a timetable.
It’s not always easy to get all managers on board and it may take time, but it is important that they are behind you. Without support from management you will not be able to implement a change.
2) Clearly demonstrate the necessity
The first step is to clearly demonstrate why something needs to change.
For example, will operating costs go down, or can you offer your clients a better service or both? Only when everyone understands that new technology can lead to improvement, can this be a successful project within your firm.
3) Present the new solution
Let people get acquainted with the new technology, provide demos and documentation. For example, you can have a white paper and distribute it to get people excited about the opportunities.
You can also check out webinars or product videos to share or present case studies and independent testimonials.
4) Find ambassadors
Ensure that you receive support from employees or managers in key positions and that they also publicly declare this support. This will ensure that employees are more positive about the idea of implementing new platforms.
5) Involve more employees
It’s important to involve people from all relevant departments in your plan, especially as their work will change with the new applications or technology platforms. You need to chase employee ‘buy in’.
Make sure they become intimate with the new chosen solution. Create a list of the most important processes that will change and the employees who have to deal with this. This way you map out everyone’s involvement and you can also determine the communication lines.
With this you design a route map for implementing the new technology and that provides guidance for all involved.
6) Show substantiation
Managers and employees will have many questions about the strategy behind the change. For example, you will be grilled on the impact this potential new application will have on the known systems, processes and their own role within the firm.
Make sure you can support your answers. Maybe you’re implementing a new solution because laws and regulations have changed. Perhaps because your competitors are doing the same or because new and clearly superior technology is available.
Be transparent about this. Then people will better understand why you made this choice.
7) Maintain speed
It’s important to provide your employees with enough information about the upcoming change, but do not forget that this also increases the chance that resistance arises. It really is a careful balance of consultation without too much contemplation.
Change is always difficult but be careful not to concentrate on people who resist because they prefer everything the old way.
Do not lose sight of the pace and also think carefully about how much energy you put into it in order to make everyone enthusiastic.
8) Start small
If there is a lot of resistance to change, which is likely, you should consider starting small.
Break the plan down into easily understood and appreciable components. For example, if you have a new process that can be easily introduced and shows a demonstrable improvement in the short term, you’ll get more support and can move on to deal with other processes.
Introducing new technology to your firm will always be a serious undertaking. To ensure success, starting with buy-in and support from the team is absolutely essential.
Stay tuned for the next Implementation Blog – ‘The right technology choice’
To find out more about APS software, visit www.aps-software.com.
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.
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