Over the last ten years, I have witnessed great changes in the area of practice management software for accounting and tax firms. As today’s technology improves, it opens the door for improved design and the creation of more robust applications. The result is a gamut of new ideas and designs for today’s software.
We are beginning to see applications paired together that had not been combined before. This provides new opportunity to firms who are interested in exploring the latest offerings to our industry. What our industry is experiencing is the beginning of what I call a “new breed” of practice management software.
We simply need to examine the way software companies are creating new approaches to the paperless office, workflow methods and advanced features to client portals to see the opportunities. Another area firms are interested in is how Customer Relationship Management systems, also known as CRM systems, can help them grow and even sustain growth. These are just a couple of reasons practice management discussions are at the forefront of our industry again.
Difficult economic times have also contributed to the raised interest in practice management software. Firms have had to adjust to financial pressures. One way to adjust is to review how firms get things done. Are we being as efficient as possible? Are there new ways of doing things that would reduce costs?
Firms are spending extra time reviewing current solutions to current problems in the hope of finding some respite during these times. Problems like rising costs, loss of clients, low efficiencies, ineffective information tracking and even poor management need attention in difficult economic times. As these needs increase, so does the need to review whether practice management software is right for your firm.
Over the past few years we are seeing accounting firms change as well. The way firms do taxes and balance the clients books, has really changed in the last ten years. The resurgence of payroll services and the introduction of portals has ushered firms into a new generation. Firms are constantly looking for ways to remain competitive and relevant. Of course it goes to good reason that with these changes, the way accountants manage their firms must change too.
Software vendors are beginning to react and find ways to enhance these changing firms. Creating and re-writing new software to adapt to the way accountants provide services. All of these factors have caused many to consider if now is the time to take advantage of the options afforded in new practice management systems. I believe this is what has driven the development of a “new breed” of Practice Management Software. A breed that’s prepared to react and find relevant solutions to today’s changing firms.
Evolving Practice Management Software
Ten years ago many firms were considering “less paper” but few had made the full commitment to evolve. Full evolution was either restricted by high costs, the lack of leadership desire or simply application short comings. When reviewing the costs many firms were resistant to evolve because the value calculated was not equivalent or higher to the cost incurred. The price and time required to purchase, implement and use the software were out of reach compared to the implied benefits. In other words the math didn’t add up, which stifled the paperless evolution.
Others did not have the desire to commit to the changes required. For some they had too many obstacles like computer illiteracy with key team members or partners. In some cases, systems in place didn’t allow for the changes required for success due to hardware limitations. This is easily overcome today with incredible technology available at very low costs.
In addition, many applications had too many short comings slowing evolution. One short coming was the lack of intuitive designs making applications difficult to use. Another was that some systems were simply cost prohibitive to be implemented successfully.