How Accounting Firms are driving Operational Efficiency in 2018

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As Australian accounting firms face an increasingly competitive environment, the importance of evolving into higher value advisory services becomes ever more pressing. Hand in hand with this necessary evolution comes the need to contain costs and drive operational efficiency across the organisation.  Read on for more on how accounting firms are tackling the challenges of operational efficiency in 2018. 

Investing in efficient IT systems 

Technology is at the heart of all modern financial services. Without a reliable and adaptable IT platform on which to operate, all other efforts to improve operational efficiency will be hamstrung from day one. Problems such as slow internet speeds, network downtime and crashing, outdated computers are a chronic and expensive waste of valuable time. The good news is that these problems are easily addressed with proper investment in the right IT platform. This may look different for each business depending on the size of the organisation, the location of clients and other factors, but modern accounting firms need to invest in reliable, secure IT systems in order to achieve operational efficiencies and grow the business.

 

Champions for Collaboration 

Effective collaboration and communication, not only between staff members but also between staff and clients, is absolutely fundamental to an efficient organisation. By using tools such as SharePoint, Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams, you can enable real-time collaboration, and also promote greater idea sharing, innovation and accountability within your people. On a practical level, team members no longer need to work out ways of transferring large data files or keeping track of the latest version of a document as utilising these cloud based systems makes these everyday tasks much more efficient.

Another core benefit of these tools (all found in the Microsoft Office 365 suite) is that they are built from the ground up to be used from anywhere, on any device. With this you can allow your staff to work from home, or a client’s office, without being isolated from the rest of the team.  

 

Outsourcing IT 

Time is money, and lost time is an absolute killer for operational efficiency. Are your staff spending their time on the right things, or are they chasing their tails working on IT support issues that should be outsourced? By outsourcing IT to a professional support organisation you will allow your staff to focus on better serving your clients.  

The right IT provider won't just fix the technology if it breaks, but will also be a valuable source of advice, best practice guidance, productivity improvements and cost savings for the organisation.

 

Embracing Business Intelligence 

The adage that “what gets measured gets managed” holds as true as ever when looking to drive operational efficiency and productivity. With technology at the core of the financial services industry there is a veritable tidal wave of data, but what's really important is how that data is transformed into Business Intelligence.

Business intelligence leverages software and services to transform data into actionable intelligence that informs an organisation’s strategic and tactical business decisions. - CIO

With the combination of cloud technology and more user-friendly tools, Business Intelligence is more widely accessible these days. Software such as Microsoft Power BI is able to pull data from a variety of sources to provide powerful insights for business leaders through rich reports,  dashboards and custom visualisation. As business leaders embrace this Business Intelligence, they are able to make more informed decisions about how to direct the business and achieve more operational efficiencies.

 

Empowering your Clients 

Historically, we've worked in an era where business managers hold their cards close to their chest and keep business secrets under wraps. But if we can use our business knowledge to help our clients transform their businesses, if we can empower them to grow, that is when we will truly serve our clients. Accounting firms that can share best practices with their clients will be able to evolve into a higher value advisory service and achieve growth into the future.

Businesses like Inspire CA truly believe that accountants can change lives, and have proven that through saving their clients over $3 million in taxes over the past few years. They also commit to giving a day of life changing help to families in need for every dollar of tax saved, thus helping their own clients as well as the wider community.

 

In an increasingly competitive environment, accounting firms that want to achieve growth into the future will need to embrace operational efficiencies. They can do this by focusing on five main things: investing in efficient IT systems, being champions for collaboration, outsourcing their IT, embracing business intelligence, and empowering their clients.

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When not looking at ways to use technology to create a competitive advantage for his clients and build better businesses, Ben is a husband, busy father of boys, avid gardener, and keen runner and cyclist.

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