There are a plethora of challenges facing accounting practices today, whether it’s trying to manage customer projects and growing client expectations, trying to manage their own teams, grow their fees and resources or adapting to a changing way of working.
Practice management software has become an essential tool in accounting – within firms and businesses alike – and 69% of CFOs and senior financial executives say they expect spend on accounting and finance technology to increase more in the next few years, according to research.
But while spend is increasing on accounting practice management software, firms and businesses still find themselves challenged with choosing the right software first, and then ensuring they get the most out of it.
Many do this well, others don’t.
In this blog, we give a quick guide on why your practice management software isn’t working to help you understand whether you’re getting the most out of the technology you’re spending money on.
Secure by design
Accountants are trusted to deal with their clients’ most sensitive commercial information so practice management software must be built as secure by design. If
you’re struggling to keep your clients’ data and information safe, then your software isn’t doing its job.
Your teams can’t track anything
Collaborative working is the new order of the day in finance and accounting, and teams expect to be able to work on projects together, from anywhere.
Your accounting practice management software should promote this by enabling teams to track their activities and projects, produce data quickly, assign tasks to others in the team and easily see where tasks are and who they’re assigned to.
Being able to track activity and projects in this way is obviously impossible with manual processes, but it is also a problem many firms experience with their practice management software.
This is particularly true for those relying on non-cloud-based systems.
If you can’t track your activity effectively, your software needs to change.
The software doesn’t promote collaboration
About three quarters of accountancy vacancies today expect candidates to demonstrate strong soft skills such as communication, listening and a willingness to collaborate, according to research by accountancy recruiter, Randstad Financial & Professional.
But while candidates are expected to show a willingness to collaborate, the same can’t be said of some of the software being used by firms and companies – especially when it comes to pairing collaboration with flexible and remote working.
Legacy business processes are notorious for creating silos between teams (especially those still reliant on manual processes) and make it difficult for projects to be worked on by different people at the same time.
It usually involves one person working on an item, saving an updated version and then someone else working on (hopefully) the newest version to make further changes.
This is neither efficient, reliable or conducive to modern expectations of accountants and finance teams that want to work from home, client offices or outside the usual 9-5.
New cloud-based practice management software has collaboration built in, allowing teams to work on the same document from anywhere, easily see what tasks are assigned to which team member and get a full view of the workflow.
If you’re software doesn’t allow this, it’s time for a change.
You’re financial reporting isn’t getting any easier
Producing and reviewing statutory accounts for clients can be time consuming and laborious for accounts and finance teams, but it is a problem accounting practice management software should be helping with.
Effective software should make the production of financial reports a much quicker, simpler process and allow your finance team more time to undertake valuable projects that can help and grow your practice.
One of the biggest problems many accounts teams have is that information needed for statutory reports is often stored in multiple locations.
Your financial software should make this process easier by allowing you to pull information and cross reference data from the likes of Excel or Word into a single place, reducing the time it takes to compile accounts and reports.
If your financial management software means you still have to manually search for information from one source and then re-key it into another one, then it is clearly not making your life easier and isn’t working as it should.
Similarly, if your software requires you send or receive documents from multiple sources – either via email or through the post – this again is not making the reporting job any easier.
Your practice management software should enable you to send and receive crucial client information from a secure portal, so you have everything in one place and also track an prioritise engagement deadlines from a single dashboard.
Again, if it doesn’t do this, you need to review your accounting software.
For more information on how your accounting practice management software can improve your practice and reporting, click here