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20th June, 2024

Season 2, Episode 5: Transforming Accounting Practices: Navigating Change

Welcome to the latest episode of Fiscal Therapy, the podcast where leaders in accounting share their secrets to success.

Our host, Jody Sitters, Community Manager for accounting partners at MYOB, speaks with Melanie Boucher-Jafari, Director of Trailblazing Consulting Group.

With more than 25 years of experience in business, tax, and accounting, Melanie brings a wealth of knowledge and a unique perspective on how accounting practices can navigate change effectively.

The Challenges Accountants Face

Throughout the conversation, Melanie highlights a common theme among accountants: time poverty.

Accountants often find themselves overwhelmed with the continuous changes and increasing compliance demands, making it difficult to balance working on the business versus in the business.

Melanie points out that historically, there were quiet times for accountants, but those periods are now becoming increasingly rare.

As a result, the constant flow of new information, processes, and compliance requirements means that accountants are always on the go.

The Role of a Consultant

As a consultant, Melanie’s role is to provide a fresh perspective on how practices operate.

She likens her work to observing a merry-go-round, identifying where changes can be made to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Melanie emphasises that a consultant’s job is not to have all the answers but to help practices see things differently and navigate the challenges they face.

Willingness to Change

One of the critical factors in successfully implementing change is the willingness of the practice to embrace it.

As a result, Melanie believes that for any change to be effective and lasting, there must first be a recognition of the problem and a willingness to address it. Without this willingness, change efforts are unlikely to succeed.

Engaging Stakeholders

When it comes to bringing key stakeholders on board, Melanie stresses the importance of identifying who they are and involving them in the change process.

In addition, the initial list of stakeholders provided by decision-makers may not be comprehensive.

By asking the right questions, Melanie helps practices uncover all the key players involved, ensuring a more inclusive and effective change management process.

The Collaborative Effort

Effective change management requires a collaborative effort.

Melanie underscores that having an external consultant does not mean the practice can take a hands-off approach.

Instead, it involves working together, sharing knowledge, and fostering a shared vision for the change. This partnership is crucial for the success of any change initiative.

Dealing with Blockers

Firstly, every change process faces resistance, and Melanie’s favourite part is dealing with the blockers — those individuals who resist change.

Drawing from her own experience as a former blocker, Melanie understands the various reasons behind resistance, whether it’s fear, past experiences, or a lack of understanding.

By validating their feelings and empowering them to be part of the solution, Melanie helps turn resistance into support.

The Importance of Habits and Prioritisation

Change often involves forming new habits and re-prioritising tasks.

Accordingly, Melanie highlights the importance of having regular check-ins and outcome-driven conversations to help practices prioritise their tasks effectively.

This approach makes sure that change efforts are actively implemented.

From Accountant to Consultant

Melanie’s journey from being an accountant to a consultant was fuelled by her passion for engagement and problem-solving.

Additionally, she enjoys finding solutions and partnering with clients and teams to create new strategies. This fulfillment led her to to start her consulting practice, Trailblazing Consulting Group.

Defining Success in Change

For Melanie, successful change is characterised by practices and individuals being honest, open, and vulnerable to change.

Also, she believes that willingness to change and readiness to embrace new ways of working are essential.

The most successful practices are those that allow themselves the permission to fail, learn from mistakes, and continuously grow.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Melanie finds immense satisfaction in seeing the lightbulb moments when practices realise the benefits of the changes they’ve made.

The transformation of blockers into proactive drivers of change is particularly rewarding. These moments reflect the positive impact of effective change management.

Final Thoughts

Firstly, Melanie’s insights provide a valuable roadmap for accounting practices looking to navigate change successfully.

Secondly, her emphasis on collaboration, willingness to change, and prioritisation offers a practical approach to managing the complexities of modern accounting.

As she puts it, “If you change nothing, nothing will change.” Embracing change with an open mind and a collaborative spirit is key to building a successful accounting practice.

Finally, if you would like to learn more or get in touch with Melanie, you can visit her website or find her on LinkedIn. Melanie is always open to sharing her expertise and helping practices navigate their change journeys.

Information provided in this article is of a general nature and does not consider your personal situation. It does not constitute legal, financial, or other professional advice and should not be relied upon as a statement of law, policy or advice. You should consider whether this information is appropriate to your needs and, if necessary, seek independent advice. This information is only accurate at the time of publication. Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of the information contained on this webpage, MYOB disclaims, to the extent permitted by law, all liability for the information contained on this webpage or any loss or damage suffered by any person directly or indirectly through relying on this information.