With the bulk of tax season fading into memory, it is time to work ON your practice. When was the last time you took a hard look at your tech stack? As technology continues to create new opportunities for extreme efficiencies, it is more important than ever to be informed about new solutions and analyze new features of existing ones. But how do you vet technology solutions?
Starting on Sunday, June 19th, 2022, we will be highlighting the technology and service providers exhibiting at Scaling New Heights in daily articles (titled Your Solutions for Success). These articles will appear in The Woodard Report over the four days of the conference. Whether you are attending the conference or not able to make it this year, these articles will be a good source of introductory information about the vendors and their products.
Here are links to the Solutions for Success articles:
The information provided in this article is based on teachings from Joe Woodard and Patricia Hendrix in their practice advancement courses and by the team of Woodard practice coaches in mentoring sessions.
If you need to adopt a solution or software to solve a specific need in your practice, you will need to vet it to ensure it meets the standards critical to your success and the success of your clients. When vetting technology, it is important to look at both feature and non-feature aspects of the solution. Most likely, you know what critical features you are looking for and how those features will act in your workflows and processes.
Another critical factor to consider when vetting any solution is best practices around data security.
Data Security Considerations
These data security aspects need to be carefully considered.
- Data location - Where is data stored?
- Encryption level - How is the data encrypted to protect you and your clients?
- Multi-factor authentication - Does the software require (or at least make available) two-factor verification?
- Data backups and redundancy - How often does the company back up data?
Once you have considered how the product works and the critical question of data security, what may not be at the forefront of your mind are the non-feature considerations of adopting new technology. There are a variety of these types of characteristics you probably have in mind when you explore a new solution, such as what your peers say, the cost of the product and if the company has won any awards for the solution.
However, here are two areas you might not have thought to explore. As you read through them, keep in mind the need to look at the full picture. You will also want to prioritize those factors that are most important to you and your clients.
1. Is the company stable?
To get an idea of a company's stability, do some research on these factors:
- Life cycle stage - How long has the company been around? What has their corporate journey looked like?
- Capitalization - Is the company self-funded or have they received investment money? Remember, a self-funded company may simply have chosen to not open funding rounds; self-funding should not necessarily be a disqualifier.
- Employee turnover - Check to see if the company has been ranked on any best companies to work for lists. Also, reach out to the company and ask an employee, maybe a customer service representative, how long they have worked for the company.
2. What is the company's culture?
Company culture contributes to the long-term success of a company's product. Not only that, but it is important to make sure that the technology you employ is in alignment with your vision. Here are some areas to examine:
- What is the company's mission or vision statement?
- How does the company share its brand story? What narrative is told around its product?
- Is the company driven by relationship development?
- Does the company engage on social issues important to you?
- Do the company leaders embody professional characteristics that align with your vision?
These are just a few additional areas for you to consider when you are thinking about adopting new technology for your accounting or bookkeeping practice. Are you thinking about it now? Then take a few minutes to create an Excel spreadsheet with the considerations most important to you. letting you intentionally compare and contrast different solutions.