3 ways to increase IT productivity in your accounting firm
Love it or hate it, IT makes up a huge part of any accounting firm – but just because your firm has a lot of fancy technology doesn’t mean it’s doing it any good.
Anybody who’s answered urgent emails at 10pm would know that technology is playing not just an increasing role in our professional lives but is also bleeding over into our personal lives.
But few understand that just having access to all the latest technology doesn’t guarantee you’ll get all the upside from having that technology – it’s how you use that technology which is key.
That’s why implementation is just as, if not more so, important than the piece of technology you select for your business.
So, what are some of the key things to keep in mind to make sure you’re getting the best from any piece of technology you purchase for your firm?
1. Develop an IT strategy
An IT strategy will help you to understand how you use the technology you already have, and what new products can do for your firm.
Before you start buying new products you need to create a plan of how you’re going to use it.
Who will use it? What department? Who will be product champion? A technology process will help you answer these questions.
This can also help to align your IT department and staff to other areas of the business.
READ: Technology for business
IT departments have a way of becoming isolated from other parts of the business if they’re put in the ‘help and support’ bucket.
Instead, involve them in any technology purchasing decision.
This will not only make sure you’re getting the best piece of tech for the job you want done, but eventually they’ll gain an insight into how other departments want to use technology and will be able to proactively suggest changes in the future.
This will make sure that any technology you get in the future will be as useful as possible to the business.
2. Make sure your data is safe
All accounting firms, large and small, create and manage vast amounts of sensitive data.
This data is essential to the operation of the firm and if lost, can shut down the business for long amounts of time.
Data can be lost in many ways; natural or man-made disasters, virus or hacking, hardware failure or simply human error.
While we always hope the worst won’t happen, it’s important to make sure you have a process laid out if it all goes pear-shaped.
A Disaster Recovery Plan is much more than just having dusty backups of your data stacked up in the storeroom.
It’s a complete plan that outlines what the financial impact of a disaster will be on your business and provides a process to bring your systems back online in the most efficient way, having the least impact on your bottom line.
While data recovery may be able to save some files, they can’t put all your processes back in working order.
The problem with just having backups (hidden in the corner or off-site) is that your data is now safe, but you have no system to run it on.
In the mean time you’re still losing money, time and potentially clients.
3. Consider outsourcing
Many firms use internal staff to manage their own software updates in an effort to reduce costs.
The knock-on effect of this is that you’ll be using staff time to perform updates and scheduling downtime within business hours – which is less than ideal.
Using billable staff to ‘look after’ IT is potentially costing you thousands each month in billable time that is going unrealised.
Usually the internal IT tasks fall to whoever is deemed the most computer literate, and while Johnny may be pretty good at fixing minor issues, he won’t have the skills or knowledge to make valuable recommendations to the firm.
We’ve all heard the saying ‘time is money’, and it certainly rings true when talking about software updates.
If your staff are managing updates as well as countless software licenses and scheduling downtime, then they’re not doing things which bring value to your firm.
If you’re worried that IT management is taking time away from billable staff, or you’re experiencing downtime in the business you need to understand how much time and money is being wasted with Strategic Group’s IT Productivity Calculator.