Think about your accounting practice’s technology solution providers. Are they simply vendors trying to sell you products that you’re not sure you need? Or have they become strategic business partners who help you make the best technology decisions by allowing you to tap into their vast resources of knowledge and experience?
When we work with accounting practices to ensure their processes are client-value focused, consistent, and efficient, we strongly recommend involving their solution providers in the conversation.
This is why and how you should let your solution providers be a partner in all your technology and process changes:
Benefits of including solution providers in process improvement
Your solution providers have experience working with all kinds, shapes, and sizes of business. While they may work exclusively with CPA firms, or with organisations in business and industry, they have a wealth of knowledge and experience from which they have developed best practices and gathered extensive knowledge of what works for firms in similar situations.
This will be beneficial to you, not only in your current situation, but also for future challenges. Your solution providers have a vested interest in your success, and are motivated to offer solutions beyond the product or service they are known for. They can help you predict trends and challenges, and include your ideas for improvements and innovations into future rollouts.
How to make the most of your solution provider relationships
- Keep discussions open. How often do you talk to your solution provider? You could be missing out on significant opportunities if you only talk to them about renewing licences and subscriptions. It’s often difficult to prioritise talking to your solution providers when you are busy maintaining client relationships, but do try to connect with them when you are at conferences and events. In a work-free environment, you will have more time to collaborate, share experiences, and develop a relationship that will benefit your technology and process decisions for years to come.
- Ask for advice when making technology and process decisions. If you’re implementing new solutions, involve your solution provider in the decision-making process early on. Discuss the functionality and efficiencies you require. They might have suggestions that will help you to make the most of your existing technology without investing in new solutions.
- Expand your peer network. Having peers who can share lessons they’ve learnt from difficult situations that you might also face will help you minimise challenges and maximise success. Ask your solution provider to introduce you to peers from whom you could learn.
- Ask about best practices. Solution providers often develop best practices for using their technology. These will not be found in the procedural manual. Best practices developed by vendors tend to be one-size-fits-all solutions, and while it may help you maximise the use of their software, it does not take into account the uniqueness of your firm’s processes and how the software might integrate with other technologies. These best practices can still be beneficial to you when developing your own standard processes, as they will allow you to derive the most value from your technology.
- Have the right internal contact person. Who is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with your solution provider? This role often lands with someone in IT by default, but they might not be the best option. Those doing the work will be best positioned to help develop processes and address issues with the technology.
If your solution providers aren’t strategic business partners, it’s time to work on changing that relationship. Close collaboration with your solution provider will ensure that the technology in your practice supports your processes, leading to greater success for all involved.