With so much emphasis on getting clients to go digital using accounting software like Xero or QuickBooks, don’t forget the benefits of software solutions to your own practice.
From productivity to security, fully embracing accounting practice management software may be what you’ve been waiting for to transform your business.
We are talking far beyond the compliance and bookkeeping functionality of the core accounting software like Xero. Now you should be looking at accounting practice management software for:
- Project management
- CRM databases
- Inbound lead management, like chatbots
- File transfer and storage
- Internal coms
And the list goes on. You may choose very specific pieces of software that serve targeted needs, or more general packages that do several jobs at once. The more you can get your practice management software packages talking to each other – plugging in/integrating, that is – the more you are likely to be able to benefit from accounting automation techniques.
So let’s take a look at some of the practical ways in which you can benefit from accounting practice management software.
One – Unlock the potential of flexible working
Flexible working was already a thing long before COVID-19, but since March 2020 it has been turbocharged. Cloud software solutions are perfect for adapting to this world.
Secure access to systems is possible from any device without the need to pre-install software, meaning that your team can work anytime, anywhere – and, yes, that does still mean the office if you want it to.
But, you have the safety net of being able to continue operations remotely in the event of a lockdown, or some other disaster recovery scenario. Or in less dramatic circumstances too, say a public transport strike.
Not only does seamless flexible working allow you to keep functioning in adversity, but it may also help you create a more desirable workplace culture. With recruitment and retention a challenge for businesses in many sectors, this could be a key differentiator which makes you stand out from the crowd.
Two – Get protection from a better grade of cybersecurity
We are all well aware of the cybersecurity threats that lurk around every corner: from being locked out of your own systems, to data theft and bitcoin ransoms. The fallout – operationally, financially and reputationally – of becoming victim to such an attack could be severe. The average financial cost alone of a cyberattack on a small UK business runs into thousands of pounds.
Sadly, nothing is 100% secure, but the grade of defence offered by leading cloud software providers is likely to be a significant step up from what you may have locally.
No-one should be using email for sending sensitive information anymore, and the good news is that there is an array of file transfer and storage software solutions out there which do the job better.
Where it is helpful to offer it, many software providers provide functionality like tiered access permission, audit trails and two factor authentication. As long as you use the built-in security tools, such software will actually drive improvement in your own organisational security.
Three – Improve productivity through efficiency
There are so many ways in which accounting practice management software can make you more efficient. Automating certain functions is huge, as you will already know from tasks like banking reconciliations in accounting software.
Not many people are fans of 100% video call meetings, but it cannot be denied that the likes of Zoom and Teams save significant travel time and costs when you need to get people together to collaborate. Undoubtedly post-pandemic they will have an important place in both internal and client meetings.
Accounting practice project management software is designed to aid efficient workflow and allocate resources intelligently; while cloud time-tracking software can give you great insight into optimising those billable hours.
Four – Marketing: making the most of business opportunities
Making the most of the marketing software options available to your practice means that you can do things like record valuable client/lead data in a CRM system, have an easy proactive first line of client engagement with a chatbot and send out targeted email campaigns – either manually or automatically.
The benefits of this kind of activity are that you can create a good first impression and maintain a slick ongoing relationship, you can easily segment your database for personalised communications and never miss marketing opportunities as they arise. All this means that you should improve your lead conversion and customer retention rates.
When we build a website for an accounting practice, we integrate software solutions directly into it so that our clients have all the functionality they need to succeed.
Five – Scalability – Pay as you use business models make the benefits affordable
Accounting practice management software packages are often priced on a per user per month basis and/or by selecting a service level appropriate to your current size, making them effortlessly scalable.
This means that it is normal not to face a large upfront cost. You simply pay for what you need at any given time. If you meet your growth plans, the software expenditure and functionality grow with you proportionately. And vice versa should you downsize or experience a challenging period.
Considerations when choosing accounting practice management software
As you can see, embracing accounting practice management software brings so many benefits with such little downside. Sure, it may take an evolution of your culture and some training, but it is important to keep moving forwards. You’ll know that over time there is significant risk attached to doing nothing.
With all that said, we wouldn’t advise just going out there and buying the first software package you see. In fact, to achieve all the above benefits you will have to invest in multiple packages. And for each one there will be different options, different business models.
So ask your peers, or a trusted adviser like us. Look at the pricing models, how they scale, how software interacts with other packages, and what support is available. Appraise whether they have the resources behind them to be around for the long term and that, as companies, they will continue to evolve and innovate. As the programs improve, remember that one of the benefits of cloud software is that you always have the most up-to-date version.
We’ve put together our latest research together in association with AccountancyManager to tell you everything you need to know, from where others in the sector are making gains to where you could too. The results show whether accountants really are getting the most out of technology and leading the way for their clients.
Talk to us
Whether you’re a software-first firm or looking for new ways to use technology to your advantage, digital tools can make all the difference when reaching new clients and communicating with existing ones. We offer a range of digital marketing services, designed to help ambitious accountants achieve their goals, get in touch for further information.