Why Technology is No Silver Bullet
Last week I had the pleasure of learning more about an accounting firm that one of my colleagues has started talking to. He started by reeling off all of the different pieces of software they use to run their business – and the list didn't stop. There was so much cross-over, with different apps that do the same thing, and multiple places to store documents – I was blown away. It appeared they loved jumping on the 'next big thing', the thing that would 'save their business'. What they didn't take into consideration was that with all these time-saving apps, and with nearly every team and sometimes team members using different applications, they were having to double, even triple their work to ensure information was correct in all of them. And then you've got to factor in what it's costing the business to run them all!
I get it, I'm a sucker for a new app, but I also know it's about working smarter, not harder. And what some business' struggle to understand is that with all the technology in the world, your business will simply not move forward unless you have well-trained motivated people, well-defined processes and consistent systems. Large organisations have understood this for years. In fact, they call it the golden triangle.
People, Process and Technology come together in an organisation to deliver reduced risk, increased profit and reduced cost, but only if you use all three. It’s really tempting to just choose the latest and greatest technology; and technology vendors will do their best to convince you their product will solve every issue; but without all three, you’re just increasing your cost.
And it's about time us little guys catch up! So here's why all 3 they are important.
If you want to scale your business, you need well defined processes that your team can follow and can improve upon. Just like manufacturing, quality management in professional services means every action has a defined process. This simplifies the business and opens opportunities to improve the processes over time, and ensures repeatable, quality results for your clients.
When reviewing processes, be sure to:
Evaluate what works, what doesn't, what slows you down etc.
Redesign the process, whether that be with or without technology
Document and communicate the process fully
Continue to monitor and review after a period of time as it may need fine-tuning as you go
At the heart of every business are its people. They need to be empowered to execute the business’s processes and improve them over time. Studies have shown that the higher the employee satisfaction and engagement, the higher your customer satisfaction will be.
This can be achieved by performing regular training and motivating your team to continually change to improve the business and the outcome for your clients.
But also put yourself in their shoes and think WIIFM - 'What's in it for me'. It's a question that drives most individuals and without them having a purpose or reason or some motivation, it doesn't matter how much training you do unless you put their needs first. So make sure you worked together to set clear personal objectives. Give them an understanding of the company's goals too. This will create a stronger team that feels united, as they're all working towards that common goal.
Technology supports your processes and people to deliver real business outcomes. Without motivated, well trained staff, any technology investment will fail, and without processes to start with, how will you know if it has improved the business?
You should also look inside the business and see what technology is already available, without getting caught up in a shiny new app.
Here are some things to consider:
Do your current systems solve what you're looking for? For example, most of us are using Office 365, but I guarantee we aren't all taking advantage of all of the mountain of apps available to us. Why pay for another piece of software when you've already got access to something in your Office 365 subscription?
Does the software integrate with current systems?
Think about the ROI – what is this new piece of software going to achieve? Jobs done 10% quicker? Increase in revenue? Shortened working days?
Is the software scalable? Will it grow with your business?
How do you plan on training team members?
In small business, its easy to rely on gut instinct and feel, but take a look around. Your most successful peers, (no matter what industry you are in) have well-trained and motivated staff, great processes and a technology platform that supports that.
At HubOne, we’ve dedicated a great deal of time and care to designing our software to be easy-to-use and support common processes in Accounting Practices. It's also why we chose Office 365 for our foundations. With the many apps all under one roof, you can be sure to keep cost down, increase efficiencies, enhance collaboration and save time.
We believe the OnePractice document management solution is at the heart of the golden triangle - a people, process and technology blueprint for running and affective accounting practice.
Working with thousands of firms and team members, we’ve learned (sometimes the hard way), that the golden triangle is a critical path to success, whatever you do.