As a business owner, you’ve probably heard lots about how automation can be a huge boon to your firm’s operations. Software marketing seems to imply that installing a program for accounting practice management can revolutionize your business and grow your revenue exponentially.
And while it’s true that accounting practice management software can dramatically change your firm, it doesn’t happen overnight. We find that concern over the process of transitioning to an automated workflow is one of the biggest obstacles that stop prospective users from adopting software that can help their business.
In this article, we’ll offer some advice that can help ease this transition so you can enjoy the benefits of automation while minimizing any painful adjustments.
Start planning and communicating well in advance
The earlier you let your team know about your plan to transition to a new kind of software, the easier it will be for them to understand and adjust to the idea. Ideally, you will be able to actively involve your employees in the process of implementing new software (more on this in the next section).
There’s another benefit of building more time into your transition: it offers padding in your schedule in case there is a delay or unexpected hurdle that crops up during the process. As anyone who has handled a major business software transition before can tell you, there is almost always some kind of surprise challenge to address. These issues only get magnified when they happen during a time crunch.
Get buy-in from the team – or at least keep them in the loop
Research has verified for a long time now that employees who feel more ownership over their work tasks are more likely to perform better and feel happier about their jobs. Control (or at least the feeling of control) over work is an easy predictor of employee engagement for most firms.
That doesn’t mean you need to consult with every single team member at each step of the transition, but there are still ways you can make people feel involved. Ask questions about their day-to-day workflows and where they find the biggest challenges. Talk to them about their previous experiences with software.
Remember: you hired your team for a reason! Don’t neglect their experiences and professional opinions. Not only is it a good chance to improve employee engagement during a major transition period, but you might also end up learning something that benefits your workflow going forward.
Plan transitions during slow periods
This is a simple tip, but simple doesn’t always mean obvious. It just makes sense to schedule a transition to new software during a time when you and your staff won’t be overwhelmed with client obligations. If you are a seasonal business that operates based on the tax calendar or the government fiscal year, you already have an identifiable slow period in which you can plan to set up new accounting practice management software.
If your level of business stays roughly the same throughout the year, you might consider extending an existing holiday break so that you can implement new software while your firm’s operations are completely paused. If you are really pressed for time to set up new software, you can use evenings and weekends to schedule the transition. Keep in mind also that the amount of time it takes to set up the new software varies depending on the specific product you choose.
Back up everything
Don’t even start the process of transitioning to a new accounting practice management tool until you know for sure that all of your data is backed up and protected. Accounting firms work with some of the most sensitive business data around – losing or compromising this data can be disastrous. Even the best-case scenario for a data breach or loss – a delay in your regular operations – can cause serious headaches for the firm.
To avoid this issue, make sure you have a plan to store and protect critical data. Whether you choose on-site storage or a cloud storage provider, be sure that your method of secure file sharing lives up to all relevant encryption standards and protocols.
Change is never easy – especially when that change involves a lot of different people and processes the way it does when a business decides to implement a new software. Fortunately, a bit of planning can save you a lot of heartache when you finally decide to make the transition. By giving yourself plenty of time, involving your team, and making sure all pertinent data is backed up properly, you can take a lot of the difficulty out of setting up a new accounting practice management software for your firm.