29 Oct 2019 10:40am

How to become a fully digital practice

SPONSORED CONTENT: New technology is helping accountants work smarter and more efficiently across different functions – accountants are often business consultants, cash flow experts or industry specialists

Here’s how your team can become fully digital. 630
Caption: Here’s how your team can become fully digital

Becoming a fully digital practice requires time, effort, resources, and stakeholder buy-in. But it’s worth the investment, as it means you can expand your business and offer your clients so much more.

Here’s how your team can become fully digital.

1. Get stakeholder buy-in

For digitisation to work, you need to get everyone on board.

As we’ve learned from our pacesetter partners, a big part of change management is making sure every team member is on the ride before setting off.

Clear communication is critical to this process, so we recommend scheduling a team or all-office meeting to communicate the vision and give people an opportunity to ask questions about the direction of travel.

You should also prepare for the fact that some employees might be fairly set in their ways: a study by SMB Group reveals that 27% of leaders cited resistance to change as a top challenge, but don’t let this put you off.

One of the easiest ways to build confidence is by putting internal jobs on to the cloud or to talk with partners at a firm you know has already made the switchover to online accounting.

At Xero, we have created a brand-new learning platform and certification experience on Xero Central. This is a one-stop hub where you and your team can build on your Xero expertise.

2. Choose the right software

The more accounting software or approaches your firm supports, the less efficient it’s possible for your firm to be – so back a partner that can work closely with you.

Something we often hear from new accounting partners is ‘we let our clients choose the accounting platform, and therefore support many different ones.’

By choosing one software, you can share the efficiencies that it brings and raise the knowledge base of your staff to a higher level.
Mark Telford, founder of Telfords Chartered Accountants, says that working exclusively with Xero saves time for his clients and his team.

“Our team members only have to deal with one type of software which makes it easy when starting to work with a new client and also when training new team members.

“It also means when we find a new way of using the software for one client, we can identify which other clients could also benefit from it and roll out the same solution to other clients very quickly.”

3. Identify a champion to lead the change

When asked about the most important things that distinguished the firms that were most successful at switching over to digital, the Xero Partner Advisory Council (XPAC) said it was having a specific person, or people, take the role (or be hired in) as the project manager for leading the change. We call this the ‘cloud champion’.

Cloud champion doesn’t need to be an official role, and it can rest with one or several people, but it’s an important job as championing the cloud in a practice involves liaising with partners, directors, managers, and employees.

4. Get your clients to implement this software

Once you’ve successfully implemented accounting software internally, it’s time to get your clients on board.

For clients that you’d like to put on the cloud, set up a meeting where you can:

1. Estimate how much time they’d save with the cloud
2. Outline how they can use this extra time saved, and
3. Talk to them about the peace of mind of having accurate and easily accessible records.

Some of our partners ensure all new clients are automatically put on accounting software, whilst moving existing clients in stages. Others might start with smaller accounts or specific industries.

Do whatever works best for your practice, but be sure to emphasise the benefits of accounting software and your clients will be happy to hop on board.

For more information visit Xero here.

By Glen Foster, Xero