Understanding and reporting on the financial health of a client is central to any accounting firm or practitioner. Historically, this process would have involved large amounts of paper work, chasing down documents as well as managing forms and reports in multiple stages of completion.
Accounting technology has completely changed this process, moving much of the paperwork to digital form and moving the majority of the management online.
But while accounting technology has helped firms deal with clients' requirements, it has also opened up the potential for these firms and practitioners to grow their own businesses using the same technology and platforms.
From the cloud, to data capture, to dashboards, the evolution of accounting software is making work far more efficient and leaving room for the traditional "soft skills" and client relationships to make a return.
While many businesses, and some accounting firms, have retained the old model of paper and manual form filling, modern accounting tools have been transformative for firms and practitioners. The ability to automate laborious and manual tasks has made this work much faster and removed the potential for human error inputting data.
Instead accountants have the freedom to deal with the more complex requirements of clients or dealing with exceptions and - most importantly - spend time building relationships with clients and prospects to gain more business, rather than spending their days manually filling out and filing reports.
Advice in real time
Modern business moves much quicker than manual processes will allow and the "always on" mentality of these businesses means accountants must be on hand to answer questions and offer advice immediately - those which are not able to advise at speed will quickly find themselves with fewer clients.
Cloud technology has enabled a far more collaborative and "joined up" way of working for accountants. This ability to store information in a central place which is accessible to the client means accountants will not need to take constant calls about non-urgent matters, with clients able to find the information easily.
This information also gives accountants to work more collaboratively within their own teams, whether they are working in the office or not - again allowing them to spend more time "in the field" and helping clients.
This ability to work collaboratively and access the latest client data from anywhere also comes in handy considering that most businesses expect to be able to contact their suppliers and partners at any time.
Using the cloud to store information means that accountants don't have to be chained to their desk from 9-5 in case the phone rings and can instead get out of the office with the confidence that if a client does call with an urgent matter, they still have access to the information and data they need to help.
For instance, employees can receive receipts, bills and other paperwork via apps; with data capture software meaning they can scan relevant information and store it in client files and portals from anywhere - again freeing them up to continue growing the business and building relationships.
Retain and win clients
Nearly a quarter (23%) of accounting firms think that technology is the key to winning new business according to research and the shift towards digital and mobile work practices suggests this opinion is valid.
Businesses are now looking for partners who are agile, flexible and can work in new ways which meet their needs of their business - they don't expect to have to change how they work to meet the requirements of a provider.
Technology is helping accountancy firms to meet these new expectations and by enabling their teams to work flexibly from anywhere and handle client enquiries on the road.
By using technology to improve efficiency and free up teams from the monotony of manually inputting data, accounting firms can spend more times developing relationships with current clients and spending more time nurturing prospects and developing relationships.
To find out how technology is changing the nature of accountancy and for more advice to digitally future proof your firm,
download our "How to Digitally Future-Proof your Accounting Practice" eBook