When you think about your accounting firm’s tech solution providers, do you consider them to be strategic business partners, whose vast experience and knowledge help you to make technology decisions and improve processes? Or are they simply vendors trying to sell you products that you may or may not want?
When we work with firms to ensure their processes are efficient, consistent, and focused on client value, we encourage them to involve their solution providers in the discussions.
Including solution providers in process improvement – what you stand to gain
Your solution providers have a wealth of experience gained from working with all types of businesses. While they may only work with CPA firms, or organisations in business and industry, they will have a host of experiences from which they have created best practices and garnered in-depth knowledge on what works for firms in similar situations. This is true not only for your current business situation, but also for any future challenges.
Solution providers are vested in your success, and offer solutions over and above the product or service they are recognised for. They can assist you in forecasting trends and challenges, and include your requests for innovations and changes in future software rollouts.
Here are 5 tips on how to leverage your solution provider relationships.
Be sure to talk to your solution providers beyond the renewing of licences and subscriptions. You stand to gain significant learning opportunities by engaging with them on a more regular basis.
While it can be difficult to prioritise your solution providers when you’re focused on maintaining client relationships, try to connect with them at conferences and events. These tend to offer opportunities for collaboration and knowledge-sharing outside of the time demands and distractions of the office. Developing this relationship with your solution provider can benefit your decisions regarding technology and processes well into the future.
Ask for input on process and tech decisions
Involve your solution provider in the decision-making process from the start so that, when you’re implementing new solutions, you can talk to them about efficiencies and functionality that you require. They may have suggestions that could let you leverage your existing technology without spending unnecessarily on new solutions.
Grow your peer network
Ask your solution provider to connect you with peers. That way, if your firm encounters a difficult situation involving process or technology, you can compare notes on lessons learned. This helps to mitigate challenges and supports success.
Get input on best practices
You won’t find best practices in your financial procedural manual, which is why you need to engage your solution provider to gather insights. Often, best practices developed by vendors are designed to cater for everyone, and while they will include steps on how to maximise their software, they will not take into consideration the unique processes of your firm, or how their software integrates with other technologies.
These best practices will, however, still be beneficial when developing your own standard processes, and maximising the value from your tech.
Put the right people in place
The person responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with solution providers is often someone in the IT department. It’s important to assess whether this is the best option, as the people working with the technologies tend to be best placed to help develop processes and address issues as they arise.
If your solution providers are not strategic business partners, start working to change that relationship. By collaborating with your solution provider, you will guarantee that your technology supports your firm’s processes, ensuring mutual success for all parties.