Almost weekly we are asked, when is the best time to change your internal business infrastructure and why. These questions come from two perspectives: either because you want to or because you have to, it’s simple really. If you want to, it shows your staff and your clients that you are trying to keep up with what’s happening both inside your industry and with business in general. If it’s because you have to, it means that you try to avoid life’s constant – change, and you are likely to have systems, processes and staff that are tired and worn out.
Whether you are a ‘want to’ person or a ‘have to’ person when to change internal infrastructure is a common topic of discussion. Unless it’s April or May, the correct answer is now. Conduct due diligence of course on what you feel needs changing and who should help you through that change, but changing now or changing in three months is going to make no practical difference. If you need some emotional time to come to terms with what’s necessary that’s fine, but in reality, you don’t, you just need to adult-up and make the decision.
For any accounting practice, considering your lodgement periods and compliance deadlines won’t have a massive impact (you’re either already behind or got it under control) these changes won’t dramatically affect things to the point where you can’t complete work, which is why you engage professional help, to ensure the changes are seamless and work continues.
Using the start of the new financial year to “go live” and thinking this is a fabulous idea, is a misconception relating to desktop applications. Cloud applications deal in real-time, therefore, as soon as you start using the application, you are “live”. Not to mention, when dealing with the scale of change that our clients go through, (usually changes to practice management software, document management, invoicing, client engagement etc) you can’t expect your team to learn the applications and be experts in all of them if they also have to run their current applications side by side until the “go live” date. Therefore, working with an external expert ensures a methodical plan to the rollout of each application, not a fictional “go live” for all apps on the same date. We appreciate that a level of accounting conditioned OCD may kick in for reporting purposes not using this date, but from an internal infrastructure perspective, the tools you use have no functional connection to your personal connection to 30 June.
December & January if we could pick a period, is a really good time to make tangible business changes and implement new systems and processes, because it tends to be quieter regarding client engagement. Alas, as an industry all too often we see accountants mentally shutting down from about 1 December and then spend most of January trying to re-focus, so by February you are “ready to go”. The hard truth is that you have potentially wasted two months to implement some amazing business improvements or process the endless compliance work that is behind schedule, and you will continue to chase your tail until 15 May.
Refer to an earlier statement above: “If you need some emotional time to come to terms with what’s necessary that’s fine, if you need it – but in reality, you don’t, you just need to adult-up and make the decision...the correct answer is now”.
The next question we are often asked is what steps I should follow to ensure success. One step, communicate. Communicate with your staff that you are going to upgrade the internal workings of your business. Communicate to your clients that you are changing the way you are doing business and they will experience three possible communication changes: engagement, eSigning and document management. Unless you’re a business that lets clients dictate how you run your business, this is a three-month communication program, with at least three communication occasions. Not challenging to do, but necessary for your success.
And the final question we are asked is, why work with a change management provider, like Clarity Street? Before we answer this, we ask the following: Are you an expert in software migration, document management migration, process development and training, ongoing staff support for new software? Have you undertaken anything like this before and implemented it successfully? Does your firm have the time to invest becoming subject-matter experts in the software and the required software migrations? No? Oh…. This final question appears a little redundant now doesn’t it.
If you are the driving force of your business, not your clients and not your staff, then now is the time to do what’s right for your business, because you want to. Even if you don’t want to, there will come a time when you have to. You choose.
Clarity Street was conceived from years of engaging with Accounting firms on a daily basis and a constant desire to make Accounting firms & SME’s more efficient and profitable.