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5 Tips to Increase Profitability by Leveraging Technology

TechnologyDoes your practice make the best use of some of the relatively straightforward technology solutions available? I have to admit, my firm did not always take advantage of steps that could have improved our relationships with clients, opened up service opportunities and, ultimately, enhanced our profitability. Here’s what we did to change our approach and improve our results:     

Improve efficiency by utilizing targeted solutions. Firms have many targeted technology solutions to choose from -- everything from online bill management services and workflow automation to cloud-based accounting and financial management software, payroll and more. My firm started by looking at CPA.com’s partner solutions. The products we selected allowed our firm to provide better and faster service. And best of all, it saved our firm and our clients’ money. We use an automated bill payment system which allows us to manage our accounting services clients’ payables effectively and efficiently. Additionally, after seeing how a cloud-based financial management and accounting system could improve productivity, reduce costs and speed growth at our firm, we decided to offer this valuable service to clients in various industries. By doing so, we have expanded our service offerings and tapped into a new revenue stream. 

Start at the top. There’s a lot of talk about getting buy-in from management for new initiatives, but in this case, as in many new projects, firm leaders should be the ones advocating change. We began to make real improvements when we identified a partner in our technology company who had the knowledge and energy necessary to drive new approaches.

Appoint a champion. That technology partner became our champion. It did, however, take us a long time to find the right person for the job and failure to have an advocate hindered our efforts. Your proponent should be someone who’s willing to learn new technologies and who’s not afraid to experiment and try new approaches. They will also need to be tech savvy in order to lead the charge. We chose a CPA who was very experienced with technology in both public accounting and on the industry side because we wanted the person to understand the client’s perspective first hand. In order for the endeavor to be successful, investing time and money in staff training is key. We have found the investment to be well worth it.

Understand the risks. There can be pitfalls without proper management of data, which is why we’re very aware of security concerns. In fact, we have developed a significant information security business. We have found that proper controls help address any risks we face, and that avoiding new options poses its own risks in terms of missed opportunities.

Don’t wait for change to happen. Right now, I believe firms will be left behind if they don’t take advantage of the emerging technologies available. Firms should not ignore the opportunities associated with being able to share information in a variety of locations and make it available as soon as and whenever it’s needed. Don’t put off change because you want to see where technology solutions may lead the profession; realize the benefits of technology today. 

The AICPA Private Companies Practice Section has developed a Firm inMotion e-toolkit designed to help firms prepare for the future. The use of technology guide outlines why firms should be thinking about technology and provides the tools to help them implement new technology solutions.

Embracing technology has allowed our firm to enhance its offerings in areas such as technology and business process outsourcing. In recent years, we’ve seen more instances of clients who would rather spend their time on their businesses and who are happy to outsource their business processes such as accounts payable, financial reporting and payroll. Offering business process services to small businesses or not-for-profits is a great growth opportunity for CPAs. But it won’t work unless firms make use of technologies that simplify these processes and make it easier to provide them. Whether you use technology to improve your client service or to provide services that meet or anticipate client needs, the companies and individuals you serve will appreciate the change.  

David K. Morgan, CPA/PFS, LBMC Financial Services, LLC. David has more than 30 years of experience as a business leader and industry expert in accounting, auditing and tax. He works closely with family-owned businesses assisting clients with personal financial planning, estate planning, retirement planning, insurance consulting and investment advisory services. David is a member of the AICPA Board of Directors.

Technology courtesy of Shutterstock.

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