A firm might move to the cloud or change the apps it uses (if it’s already using a cloud-based system) due to a desire to streamline solutions, improve internal efficiency, and save costs through appropriately leveraging automation.
Typically, this effort is led by a key individual or individuals, but the long-term success of these technological changes is not guaranteed.
It’s not sufficient simply to implement a solution, invite a number of users, and hope it will work out as intended, as this can cause projects to be abandoned entirely.
To prevent this from happening appropriate research and effective implementation are key. To maximise your chances of introducing new technology successfully within your organisation, make sure you follow these simple steps:
1. Get demos from the professionals
Don’t just rely on online videos and try to work everything out for yourself. Chances are, you’ll learn far more by speaking to representatives from the technology provider itself – so sign up for a proper demonstration where they can take you through the solutions end-to-end functionality and answer all your queries.
2. Ask as many questions as possible
Ask every question that you have about the solution, even if you think you might know the answer – it’s always best to know for certain. It might be a good idea to brainstorm potential questions before your demo call just so you can be sure that you don’t miss anything out.
3. Utilise free trial periods
Most tech solutions have a free trial period, and even if they don’t, ask for one. When you sign up for the free trial, make sure you do it at a time when you’ll actually use the product. For example, don’t sign up over Christmas or when you’re on holiday. Give the solution an appropriate amount of time and attention so that you can really get used to it; this is critical in working out if it’s right for your firm.
4. Get feedback from your peers
One of the fantastic things about the accountancy profession today is that firm owners are far more collaborative than ever before. Before committing, why not ask your account manager to point you in the direction of other users who might be willing to share how they’ve implemented the software and their user journey so far?
Also, try checking out user groups on social media for the provider. Most software vendors have active communities, and you’ll be able to gauge the responsiveness of the team and how they deal with their existing customers.
5. Purchase the right subscription levels
Most technological solutions have multiple different subscription options according to the levels of functionality that they offer. However, most people also want to save costs. If there’s a subscription level that best suits your needs but is not necessarily the cheapest option, it’s still probably the best one for you. Remember that if this is implemented correctly, you should be saving money anyway by having better internal processes, becoming more efficient, and automating time-consuming work.
6. Make sure that your apps integrate
Automation and efficiency should be your goals and you need to make sure that your apps all talk to one another. Gone are the days where you use only one piece of software. Chances are you’ll have multiple apps in your stack and these should all have a level of integration that, at a minimum, means they share the same client database.
If you have to consistently re-enter the same information in multiple places, not only will you lose your efficiency gains from the cloud, but you’ll also run a greater risk of error. In an ideal world, each app would be able to trigger workflows and processes in other apps too.
7. Learn about Zapier
If there are tools that you want to use but don’t have a native integration (i.e. don’t naturally talk to each other), then Zapier may be your answer. Zapier is fantastic at getting different tools to work together.
8. Assign an internal champion(s)
This person will learn all they possibly can so that they understand the product inside out. They’ll be the go-to person within the business who will not only make sure that the app is working but that it’s also being used properly.
If your team is large enough then I’d suggest that you have a different person for each app – otherwise, someone might become overburdened with their role as the resident tech guru.
9. Train your team and bring them on the journey
Make sure your team get the training they need to properly use the technology and ensure they understand why it’s important, explaining the many benefits that it can offer. Include them in the decision making and implementation processes. Inclusion and education are the two core pillars behind ensuring that the technology is widely (and correctly) used – so make sure you don’t neglect them.
10. If it’s a big change, hire a professional
If you’re undertaking a wholesale overhaul of your systems and you don’t have the right technical expertise in house to get it all working properly, engage an integrator to get the job done. There’s no point in making a mistake. This will only lead to frustration, delays, and rising project costs.
Remember: technology is always changing
Don’t be afraid to try new things. However, balance this with common sense. App overwhelm can end up confusing and annoying your colleagues and significantly damage their productivity, so don’t just fall for every shiny new solution that lands in the app marketplace.
When adopting a new product, make sure there’s always a well-defined exit plan for the technology that you already use (e.g. how to export features and perform backups). If you ever outgrow something or realise that it’s just not for you, don’t hang onto it for too long – this will just cost you more in the long run.
Apps that leverage the cloud, integrate with others, and transform your internal efficiency are a winning combination. Fortunately, Practice Ignition does all these and more. Start a 14-day free trial if you’re looking to put Practice Ignition to better use within your firm.