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4 steps to take for a successful digital transformation of your accounting firm

4 steps to take for a successful digital transformation of your accounting firm

Digital and cloud technology has changed bookkeeping forever by automating and simplifying financial tasks. Accounting is undergoing the same transformation through technology.

Compliance is now about speed, automation, accuracy, and competitive pricing. But what clients really value are relationships, analysis, and advisory services. According to our recent research, 76% of accountants believe that advisory services will be their biggest revenue earner by 2025. But just 14% of respondents say that these higher margin services are their greatest source of revenue today.

This represents a significant shift in priority, purpose, and services, and is being driven by changing client needs and the impact of technology. We call this future the era of connected accounting.

To win in connected accounting, firms need to use technology to transform their compliance services and reporting and give them more time, data and tools to deliver value-added advisory services. An effective technology strategy is key to making all this possible and will underpin success in connected accounting.

So what does a good technology strategy for connected accounting look like?

Working with our clients as they build their own digital transformation strategy we’ve identified the four key steps and technologies we all need to deliver connected accounting. We’ve called them the four sights of connected accounting.

Here you can see how these four sights build on each other on your route to connected accounting and the core technology capabilities they build. We call this the connected accounting maturity curve.

Maturity_model_2020_EN-1
As you acquire each new sight your firm, team and clients are more connected; you unlock new opportunities for greater productivity, develop new services, improve competitiveness, and secure more revenue and profit.

So what are these key sights?

1. Fullsight

This is the foundation of connected accounting, and focuses on data. The digitisation and consolidation of all client financial data, whatever the source, in one central and secure data hub. A home for all your clients’ data that is updated automatically, and in real-time, from multiple bookkeeping systems and other sources, even paper files. All this data is securely accessible to you, your team and your clients.

Fullsight is about creating a reliable single source of truth – a complete vision of all your client data, up-to-date, historical and available to you at all times. The basis on which all work – compliance or advisory – can begin.

Benefits:

  • Data is always up-to-date
  • Eliminate risk and cost of errors
  • Remove manual re-keying
  • Everyone works from the same file
  • Data is ready for automation
  • You (and your clients) are free to use whatever bookkeeping software they want.

2. Hindsight

Once you have all your client data – current and historical, centralised, standardised and always available – you can move on to Hindsight. This second stage of connected accounting moves from collating and standardising data, to utilising data in practical ways.

Hindsight is all about applying your data in automated accounting workflows to create an accurate view of the past. To streamline your compliance and reporting processes and improve its accuracy. It also means you can improve productivity and competitive pricing in your core compliance services.

Benefits:

  • Consistent processes that reflect best practice and are used by all teams
  • More client files per accountant
  • Time saved from no more switching between applications and data sources
  • Less mistakes
  • Faster workflows
  • More time for clients, less time number crunching.

3. Insight

Fullsight and Hindsight allow you to transform your workflows. Insight is where you start to develop your value-added advisory capabilities.

Insight is all about putting yourself in a position to offer advice and guidance to your clients based on reliable data. You have the tools to look at the meaning behind the numbers and extract valuable business intelligence. And you’re also able to contact clients directly when immediate action will have the most impact on their business performance.

Benefits:

  • Effortless collaboration within teams and with their clients
  • Easily identify trends and actions in real-time based on reliable data
  • Client knowledge shared between teams to allow for greater resourcing flexibility within the firm
  • The ability to tell clients something they don’t know and can act on it quickly.

4. Foresight

Finally, we move from looking at past performance to using data and analytics tools to predict the future and power the development of new value-added client advisory services. Foresight is the final step in the transformation of a firm from compliance reporting to trusted business advisor.

Foresight is about connecting more deeply with your clients’ businesses and building your status as their most trusted advisor.

Benefits:

  • Unlock new opportunities for services
  • Give advice when it has impact
  • Link compliance and advisory services to bring new value to both
  • Make it easy for the accounting team to deliver valued advice based on data.

Our maturity curve for connected accounting is built on these four key sights. Each requires the adoption of specific steps in your technology strategy.

You can find out more about Connected Accounting and the four sights in our quick read guide here.