If your firm has yet to invest much in new tech I hope the following list will help you overcome your reluctance. And if you have been investing then maybe you can just reminisce as to what life was like beforehand. Or perhaps things have stalled and you’ll recognise why when you look down this list.
1 – We’re too busy – Like the woodcutter who insists on continuing to use an axe to chop down trees, without realising how blunt it has become and because there isn’t time to learn how to use an electric chainsaw.
2 – We’re too small – Unlikely. Many start up firms and small practitioners are very enthusiastic users of new tech that has not yet been embraced by larger firms.
3 – We’re not one of the Big 4 – True. But no one’s suggesting you need to invest in the sort of advanced tech that the Big 4 are adopting. That’s a whole different ball game.
4 – Our clients don’t care – Possibly correct. But as I have explained on this blog before, whilst your current clients may not care what software and tech you use, prospective clients may have a very different attitude. This is especially likely if your competitors have evolved lower cost bases for compliance work due to their investment in new tech.
5 – The senior partner retires soon – Ah yes. The partner who resists investment as it means less money available for their retirement. On the other hand, old fashioned practices are less investable and secure lower multiples when they come to be sold.
6 – It’s too hard to choose – An understandable EXCUSE. So stop thinking that you have to research all possible options. Identify what features are crucial and then make a choice – just as you would if you were buying a new car or a new washing machine. This is much better than doing nothing.
7 – We don’t know where to start – Ok. Anywhere is better than nowhere. Most firms start with a cloud bookkeeping system – maybe one used by a large number of their clients. Or they ask around to find what other comparable sized firms are using for their own finances. That’s a good place to start.
8 – Our staff don’t care – A common excuse that reflects the views of some older staff who may not relish the idea of having to start doing things a new way. Younger staff are more inclined to find the idea of new tech to be appealing. And modern practices tend to find it easier to recruit than do the ‘old fashioned’ ones.
9 – We’re already sufficiently successful – Good for you. Wouldn’t it be nice to be confident that this will continue for more than just the next few years? Again, this is not a question of retaining existing clients and fees. But whether your firm and partners will be well placed to win new clients paying good fees well into the future. And whether your firm will continue to be an attractive place to work and to be a partner.
10 – We don’t have the talent – You may be right here. Few of the more experienced mature partners in firms have the necessary experience, expertise and interest to lead projects to introduce new tech into their firms. Nor can you assume that your IT support provider is best placed to do this. But you can access the necessary knowledge, insights, training (and talent) without having to actually employ a full time expert. Alternatively you may find that a younger member of your team may have the necessary ‘talent’.
11 – It won’t benefit us – This attitude suggests a lack of understanding as to the range of tech resources that are being embraced by other accountants. It might also suggest a closed mind and a degree of unconscious fear of changing how you do things – regardless of the benefits and advantages that could then flow.
12 – We’re fine with things as they are – Although this view implicitly picks up on a number of the earlier excuses, the likely reason for this view could well be rooted in the perfectly natural and common fear of ‘change’. In my talks I often explain that you’ll be fine to continue doing what you’ve always done, the way you’ve always done it for the immediate future – that is, the next year or so. But sooner or later you will start to suffer when it comes to winning new clients and possibly also to retaining good clients and staff. The better prepared and ready you are the more confident you can afford to be.
Of course this is all very general. Some of the barriers to investing in tech are down to individual preferences and concerns. Others are down to the nature of the tech itself. Mostly though the challenges are due to the time that needs to be invested in considering the different options and then in making a decision and introducing the new tech into the office.
Here are a couple of further tips to help you:
1 – Decide on a strategy for your firm. Your investment in new tech should then help bring your vision to life.
2 – Create a plan that covers the various steps you will need to take on your journey. And then take the first step….