The biggest obstacles to digitising in an accounting firm

Arm yourself with the right mindset and approach.

As you start to think about where you want to get to as an accounting firm in terms of becoming digital, you really need to understand where you are currently and how to navigate that journey. This is very important as you start to look at some of the processes that might now be creaking under the significant and immediate shift in working practices that have happened due to COVID-19 and the other dynamics at play in the global profession.

We are consistently hearing the challenges facing accounting firms globally are across four key themes: digital service delivery, productivity, quality, and people.

Digital service delivery

Accounting firms that have previously invested in technology and embraced remote working as a concept prior to COVID-19 have been able to work very effectively in this new world. Those who perhaps were a little bit slower or have not progressed as far on their digital journey have found it very challenging. For services that might require you to be on site or are very paper based, that is immediately a very challenging service to continue to deliver in this new environment.

A survey conducted during the ICAEW’s Accelerating Digital Transformation in Compliance and Advisory Services webinar revealed that 26% of its members currently see digital service delivery as their firm’s biggest challenge.

Productivity

Another concern for today’s accounting firms is maintaining productivity during the new normal. Being able to utilise the staff that you have in your firm effectively and to work through the projects, services, audits that you have undertaken, given the disruption that has been caused not just to your teams, but also to the clients that you might be working with.

Quality

Maintaining audit quality whilst transitioning to a completely new way of working is another key challenge facing today’s accounting firms. Being able to continue to deliver the services and maintain the trust factor that might be critical to certain services like audits when you are struggling to support your junior staff or you’re facing challenges in being able to work remotely to deliver that work.

People

And lastly, people. Accounting firms must not forget that accountancy is a very people focused business. There is a reliance on talented individuals in your accounting firms to work with your clients very closely and build relationships. Nurturing your people through the transition to a new way of working and making sure they’re still engaged with their roles is a crucial challenge facing accounting firms today.

There are however three digitisation approaches to overcome these obstacles, each of which plays an important role in an accounting firms journey towards digitising its services:

The first approach is enhancing the work that you currently do, and this is really around identifying aspects of a service that you currently deliver that could be digitised or automated. There are lots of examples in any accounting firm of any size of things that are being done that could be digitised or automated.

The second approach is elevating which is about using different techniques to achieve the same outcomes. So rather than automating the existing method of doing something, coming up with an alternative way of achieving the same results.

And finally, the third approach is transforming which is reimagining what you could do and how you could do it through leveraging digital technologies. For example, creating a whole new service offering e.g., a new advisory service, by leveraging the technologies that are available or could be developed.

Digitisation can help enhance, elevate, and transform the services accounting firms deliver. Process mapping can assist in defining a service or project in simple terms and identify ways in which digitisation can assist and streamline the process to improve and deliver an effective and efficient process.

The right approach for your firm depends on the type of innovation you’re looking to implement, the area where you’re looking to deploy these techniques, and how far along the digital transformation journey you are.

Sign up for free today and review our demonstration client to see for yourself and discover how it can facilitate an effective digital transformation throughout your firm by putting emerging technologies at your fingertips.

As a cloud-based technology provider, Inflo helps accounting firms digitise their services. Why not download our definitive guide to digital transformation for tomorrow’s accounting firms, where you’ll discover exactly how to implement a successful digital transformation strategy across your accounting firm.