For more than a decade, accounting professionals have been advised to get their practice online, that it was imperative for them to be competitive in the future. “Productivity-enhancing technologies” and “workflow optimization” became keywords for the movement, the continuing technological evolution of accounting firms. And there’s no doubt that these innovations have greatly improved the modern practice, resulting in new technologies that help professionals work smarter, take on more and higher value clients and engagements, be more responsive to client needs and, ultimately, realize greater revenue and profits.
There’s another factor, however, that’s often left unmentioned. Your clients, unfortunately, might be the weakest link. Whether they are mostly business entities, individaual tax engagements, non-profits, high net worth individuals, or a diverse mix, your clients are one of the major infaluencers on whether you are able to reap the full benefits of those technaologies.
In short, a professional practice is only as technologically adept as its clients allow. Offering client portals, for example, can greatly streamline collaboration between the client and accounting firm, but if only a few clients are using the technology, the firm isn’t going to realize the true benefit. The same goes for the other major productivity-boosting technologies such as ASPs (hosted desktop applications), online bill payment solutions, online invoicing, and online document management tools. All these solutions help small businesses be more efficient, while also facilitating a more productive relationship with their professional accountant.
Sounds like an obvious win-win, but for many accounting practices, even some with very tech-savvy partners and staff, the challenge has been getting their clients on-board with the idea of cloud computing and other remote technologies. It wasn’t very long ago that these doubts were also prevalent in the professional accounting space, but continued developments in security, reliability and the potential benefits have led most to realize that there is a significant ROI here. These technologies require minimal investment; they allow for new revenue opportunities, and they produce better results for the practice and for the clients.
So, how can you persuade a technology-doubter to follow your firm into a more digital and collaborative environment? The first step is to learn more about the technologies available. Of course, there are countless small business technologies on the market, and keeping up with the ones best suited to certain client industries isn’t a simple task. And while there are webcasts offered by many of the vendors, they are often a waste of time because each vendor focuses on their own product rather than on the broader needs of clients and accountants.
Fortunately, a new seminar is being offered this summer that specifically looks at a several web-based technologies that are beneficial to the small business, but also benefit the accounting practice, by providing enhanced collaboration, workflow and remote access.
The seminar, which is being offered in the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta and Los Angeles, is called “Taking Your Clients Online: How to Transform Your Client Relationships Using Cloud Computing.”
The key focus is on helping professional accountants realize greater benefit from web-based technologies by helping get more of their clients to see the benefits for their own businesses, according to noted technology expert Doug Sleeter, president of The Sleeter Group, the largest network of small business technology consultants in the nation.
The seminar also offers practical advice that attendees can start using on day one, including best practices, industry-specific tools, and advice on: