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Technology Trends in Accounting 2021 Research Report
Discover the progress accountancy firms have made in their business and client service transformation, and what impact the pandemic has had on their use of technology.

The Smartest Accountants Keep it Simple

Joris Van Der Gucht
Written by: Joris Van Der Gucht

It was in 1960 when the famed US Navy aircraft engineer Kelly Johnson first noted the design principle KISS, an acronym for “Keep it simple, stupid”. 

For Johnson, pilots already had to contend with an incredibly complex machine without engineers adding to the complications. KISS argues a key goal in any system or design is simplicity. Complexity, wherever possible, should be eliminated.

Accountants would do well to remember the KISS credo. In the past few years, a remarkable wave of software applications have flowed into the profession. Initially under the pretence of simplicity, but instead it has:

  • Obscured a full view of a business’s whole by creating data silos
  • Created disparate pockets of data
  • Made it more difficult for accountants to demonstrate value
Businesses can’t get the whole picture

In business, the term ‘silo mentality’ suggests a tendency for different departments in business to separate from one another. Fixated on their respective niches, workers in their silos lose perspective.

Similarly, software silos can easily form within a business. Different, competing softwares automate different things, each one slicing a new chunk off from a business’s broader whole.

In short, it has become harder for a business owner to get the full picture.

The smart accountant uses tech to pool all this data and sketch a meaningful, cohesive picture of a business.

To tackle this:

  • Forge connections between different pockets of data using a smart accounting platform.
  • Use your expertise to identify the most relevant information at that moment.
  • Package the information in a simple, visually stimulating way.
Using data to simply demonstrate value

The fracturing of data across different accounting packages makes it very difficult to demonstrate value.

To get the information needed to give specialist advice, accountants need to hurdle from software to software. It wastes time and detracts from the bigger picture.

Consolidating information into a central place facilitates the data analytics that’s going to make your services sticky, i.e. clients will return again and again.

As Mike Galarza noted on AccountingWEB recently, through smart use of tech “accounting firms are well placed to crunch unscalable mountains of data into new and valuable insights for their clients.

“By using analytics to identify and mitigate risks, highlighting positive and negative trends, and taking on a far more advisory role, the accountant transitions from simple functionary in a business, to a well-respected consultant or mentor.”

Actions you can take:

  • Pool your client’s data and information. You need every bit to offer insights and mitigate risks.
  • Enable ‘decision simplicity’. Consumers decision to buy services ultimately comes down to “the ease with which they can gather trustworthy information”.
  • Don’t just file accounts. Make full use of the information to assess where consumers are on their journey to success and guide them.
Make it simple for clients to reach out

In science and engineering, signal-to-noise ratio is a measure comparing the level of a desired signal to the level of background noise. In accounting, there’s more ‘noise’ than ever.

The temptation may be to move between different niche software packages. But this detracts from meaningful client contact because you’re always treading water.

By taking all your client’s information and putting it all in one, easily accessible location, it simplifies client engagement. The information you need to create value in client meetings will be at your fingertips and easy to share.

  • Smart use of technology means augmenting your skills, not replacing them.
  • At all times: KISS. Simplicity during client contact is vital. Business people aren’t accountants, take it easy on them.
  • Offer alternative ways for clients to reach you. Online meetings enable the regular, granular client contact you need to become a mentor.

We wrote a guide on how to add value to online meetings and what reports and insights to share, so feel free to download it for free.


Accounting’s red herring

Back in the era of compliance you didn’t need to explain anything. Accounting was transactional; input to output. This transactional, rather robotic work is precisely what DIY software has automated.

But it would be an error to call this accounting’s true digital transformation. As impressive as software’s impact has been on accounting, until now its implementation has been far from cohesive.

Instead, the rise of accounting software has created the machinery and information necessary to spark the real revolution: real time, advice led accounting augmented by concise, simple and specialist technology.

To return to Galarza, smart accountants are “looking into business strengths and weaknesses, cash flow, profits, risks and opportunities, and they now have the technology to give the needed insights to supercharge your efforts and help your company grow”.

That’s hard work, no doubt. But with intelligent technology, hard work has never been simpler.

If you would like to see a beautifully simple and comprehensive digital platform for accountancy firms in action, request a demo and we’ll organise a convenient time for an online demo of the award winning Silverfin platform.