How can CPA firms keep up with today’s digital climate?
One of the oldest professions alongside doctors, lawyers, and teachers is the accountant. With early roots said to be as far back as Egyptian auditing systems, the accounting industry has historically changed and adapted to the times, but a larger digital transformation is coming. Still limited by heavy regulations, how can CPA firms transform themselves to keep up with the latest industry digital trends?
Overcoming barriers to change
The first step is identifying barriers to transformation, starting with change management. Most accountants spend the majority of their time focused on billable work and many firms aren’t willing to squander time on new processes. Implementing new ways of doing things does not immediately show themselves to be profitable. As a result, they’re pushing upgrades aside to favour the familiar ways of doing things. This traditional industry is filled with an aging workforce that is often unreceptive to change – especially a digital one. Forward-thinking firms understand that they need to modernize their processes to remain competitive with their industry peers and how profitable it will be for them in the long-run.
Another hindrance is that the industry is challenged with adhering to government regulations and tax codes that do not often change, so any digital implementations must be considerate of both requirements.
Understanding benefits of change
Implementing digital transformation has several benefits that cannot be ignored. The number one benefit is saving time and lowering risks. By implementing software which automatically crunches the numbers for you, you are immediately removing the risks that naturally come with manual data entry. This allows a time-consuming process to become streamlined and more efficient, saving time to focus on revenue generating tasks and services.
Another benefit that digital transformation can bring is automating payment collection. It is possible to synchronize your debt collection strategy and processes across multiple touchpoints with web-based platforms. Some platforms are even developed specifically for certain industries, such as healthcare providers, property managers, and agencies to name a few. This means being able to access your work – anywhere you are.
Better serving your clients, using the tools they use
One major consideration is a CPA firm’s client base. How are clients also participating in the digital revolution? The days of driving to a client’s business to pick up a shoebox of receipts are behind us. Today, there are efficient and streamlined programs which make it much easier to be paperless and eliminates the risk of having paper receipts misplaced. The expectation of a potential client is higher than ever – they are using new, modern tools to efficiently run their business and they expect the same back.
A changing generational workforce
Consider as well, the generation that has once filled the offices of CPA firms now wants to retire. New, excited players entering the workforce are of a new generation, but you need new talent to fill old roles. New generations are flocking to businesses that are already embracing new technologies because it’s how they work. It’s how they’re comfortable. Firms that continue to use dated and time-consuming business practices will naturally see less of an uptake in qualified candidates applying or, on the flip side, will see a higher increase in turnover for not adapting to new and shifting work styles.
Start the change today
The digital transformation does not come without its challenges, but once implemented, the ROI, process improvements, and benefits received overall are not to be overlooked. The technology revolution is here for all businesses, even one of the oldest in the books.