The 5 Best Times to Evaluate New Technology

You know your firm needs to stay up to date with technology, but it’s easy to put off the inevitable. Transforming your firm’s infrastructure might seem daunting at first. However, if you evaluate new technology at the right time, you can actually minimize the disruption to your firm’s operations. Here are some of the most common reasons firms begin to look at new technology.

After Tax Season

After tax season, many firms evaluate tax software before signing a contract for another year. But just because your technology search is triggered by your tax software renewal doesn’t mean you should limit your search to tax software. This can also be a great time to look at your tax workflow more holistically. You might be surprised to learn that your firm can solve workflow problems you aren’t even aware of yet.

According to Kimberly Engstrom of Global Mobility Tax, the firm was looking for tax software but ended up improving the entire practice. She says, “…a light bulb went off in our heads. We said ‘oh my gosh, these things all work together.’ CCH Axcess is not just a tax program. It is a time management system; it is a workflow system; and it is document management.” By widening the lens of their technology search, the firm was able to improve much more than just its tax preparation process.

Before a Large Hardware Investment

Most experts recommend refreshing hardware every three years to protect against data loss or other infrastructure problems. But servers can be expensive, and maintaining them can be a hassle. Before investing in additional hardware, firms should do their due diligence and take the time to evaluate new technology. Cloud technology has come a long way, and it can save firms many headaches. Wesley Middleton of MiddletonRaines+Zapata explains, “There’s no question that we are not an IT firm. We are a public accounting firm.” Transitioning to the cloud can help firms save on hardware costs as well as IT consulting that is often required.

During a Staffing Shortage

Firms that do a lot of seasonal business may have trouble recruiting enough temporary staff during busy season. Other firms may have trouble retaining staff because of work/life balance concerns. Certainly, accounting firms are no strangers to all kinds of staffing shortages. The pain of staffing challenges often triggers firms to evaluate new technology. Productivity software can help firms do more work with fewer staff. This can ease the pressure to find seasonal staff or improve work/life balance for full-time employees.

Randy Jentzsch & Company was on the verge of losing a key employee who was moving across the country. Instead, the firm decided to move its technology infrastructure to the cloud. In addition to solving the immediate need to accommodate that employee, the firm was also able to re-hire another staff member who had relocated previously and expand its recruiting base to areas outside the small town it calls home. Jeremy Allen, the firm’s tax manager says, “Being able to work from anywhere at any time is extremely valuable when you’re trying to attract talent. If we can have people working from wherever they want, then we can really grow our practice, and our expertise as well.”

During Leadership Transitions

Passing the baton from one generation of leadership to another is a critical time for any firm. While your firm might be tempted to minimize change during a leadership transition, it can actually be a great time to shore up the firm’s technology infrastructure. For example, when Reid, Hanna, Johnson and Company changed leadership, new partner Robert Johnson brought in Charlie Burns to lead the transformation. Their goal was to grow the firm. Burns says, “Growth is not just about finding new clients; it’s about growing with existing clients.”

However, Johnson and Burns were both new to the firm and were not familiar with the client base. “When you’re new” says Burns, “the biggest hurdle is always ‘Who is this client?'” By implementing CCH Axcess Workstream and Practice, the Johnson and Burns gained more insight into the firm’s operations, including its clients. In fact, the technology transformation led to 33% revenue growth and a jaw-dropping 300% growth in profits.

After Merger or Acquisition

Like any leadership transition, mergers and acquisitions can seem like a chaotic time for some firms. But they also have the added pressure of combining two or more sets of technology infrastructure. In face, M&A activity is a common trigger for firms to evaluate new technology. With new technology and processes, these firms can unite their disparate data and create a more cohesive firm culture at the same time. Alyce Notaro of Tronconi Segarra & Associates explains how that firm was able to achieve cohesiveness after recent M&A activity. She says, “Bringing the two firms together has had some challenges, but part of what has helped is the standardization and having our workflows laid out without any ambiguity or questions.”

If it’s time for your firm to evaluate new technology, make sure you’re planning for the long term. Download our Future-Ready Firm toolkit to prepare for your firm’s transformation.

 

AUTHOR

Aimee Hall

Product Marketing Manager at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting

All stories by: Aimee Hall