Digitalisation in the accounting industry is inevitable. Rather than being wary of digitalisation, accountants should see it as an opportunity for growth, transformation and staying ahead of competition.
In his dealings with more than 7000 accountancy practices a year, Chris Pattas, director of Sage Australia’s accounting division, observes that nowadays clients want more from their accountants than ever before. “Clients want insights, advice, a fast turnaround,” he says.
As an integrated accounting, payroll and payment systems provider, Sage Australia offers tools and services to support accountants and help them grow their practices.
It provides advice on how firms can adopt best practices in three key areas of their practice: compliance, client management and practice management.
Picture: Chris Pattas, Sage Australia.
Managing workflows more efficiently can present a challenge, especially if clients rely on several forms of bookkeeping software, or none at all.
“All that data – wherever it is – needs to go through their systems so they can complete the compliance process.” Pattas explains. “This can lead to manual rekeying and mapping of data.”
By using a cloud-based data management software solution instead, accountants can connect to multiple bookkeeping software and transfer data faster.
2. Client management
Technology can keep clients engaged with a practice, from onboarding clients to collecting signatures. Submitting taxes to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), for example, is slowed down by face-to-face client reviews, says Pattas. Digitalisation enables the client to track an accountant’s progress and sign off at their own convenience, including outside of traditional business hours.
3. Practice management
Experienced third-party support can illuminate how a business can better operate – from people management to payroll.
“Clients tell us it’s very hard to recruit and to replace accountants,” says Pattas. “A practice management solution helps them see how technology can not only add to running an effective operation, but also create a great environment to practise in.”
He suggests adopting these best practices to benefit from new technology:
Streamline workflows: Partnering with a platform agnostic technology provider can “take away a lot of labour or risk to speed up processes,” says Pattas. He points out that removing unnecessary processes, such as manually rekeying in data systems, can save up to 30% of time spent on a year-end compliance engagement.
“This might not sound like a lot… but over the course of weeks, months, years of doing compliance work, you can save hundreds of hours that can be transferred to more value-adding activities,” he adds.
“You can save hundreds of hours that can be transferred to more value-adding activities.”
Prioritise convenience: Phasing out physical documents and in-person signature collection in favour of electronic sign-off methods gives clients the chance to review and finalise documents at a time and place that’s hassle-free for them. For many clients, replacing the traditional back-and-forth with clear, simple online instructions also makes them feel like a VIP, says Pattas.
Invest in personalised support and troubleshooting processes: Pattas emphasises that digital tools work best when used by capable people. Investing in training or online resources, so that staff feel comfortable using the right tools, can make a huge difference to a practice’s productivity.
The automation of sending personalised emails that explain what it’s like to deal with a practice when onboarding clients, for example, or thanking clients for their time following an engagement, adds a level of personalisation to a great digital experience.
Find out more:
Request a call and demo on 1800 660 670 (in Australia) or visit sage.com/au/bestpractice