Change management is hard. Even with the best intentions and clearly stated goals from the outset, it’s no small task to lead an organization through a transformation.
There are many kinds of transformations a firm can undertake, but in this piece we’ll focus on digital transformation.
Technological advancements, such as practice intelligence that includes cloud computing, automation, and artificial intelligence, are changing the way accounting firms operate. Understanding and leveraging practice intelligence is essential for firms to stay competitive, and that requires skillful and intentional change management.
Change Starts at the Top
An effective Managing Partner seeking to drive technological innovation for a firm needs to first do the difficult job of convincing other Partners of the urgency of adopting new technology like practice intelligence.
Edgardo Pappacena, who served as Chief Global Strategist and Business Model Innovation Leader at PwC, acknowledges a hard truth about accounting:
Edgardo’s advice to accounting firms looking to innovate:
- Start socializing the idea of change in one-on-one conversations.
- Determine how to achieve a “critical mass” of Partners who are open to the idea of digital transformation.
- You don’t have to necessarily convince everyone; but you do have to convince a healthy number of Partners to take on this sort of change.
- Edgardo argues that by nature and training, leaders in professional services–accounting, audit, tax, etc.–are “professional skeptics,” meaning, they are discerning thinkers and are not easily swayed by new information.
- To get Partners on board with digital transformation, you will need to clearly articulate the need for change and then communicate the benefits of new technology and innovative practices.
(Watch Edgardo’s full webinar, “Driving Innovation & Transformation,” here.)
What If I’m Not A Techie?
An extra layer of challenge that accompanies digital transformation is that not everyone has the same level of technological acumen. Introducing new software or systems like practice intelligence can be daunting for anyone without an IT background–which is most of us!
This sort of pushback is understandable. It means the leader tasked with change management needs to help employees see that their current pain points–areas where existing processes are inefficient or outdated–can be greatly improved with new technology. They need to know that whatever learning curve they’re facing is worth the long-term benefits to their daily work.
“With all of the various software conversions we’ve gone through within my sixteen years with Hancock Askew & Co, this one has truly been the most seamless,” said Reagan Hollis, Finance Manager at Top 200 firm Hancock Askew & Co.
We’re Bought In; Now Which Tech Do We Need?
Say you’ve created buy-in with the necessary people and teams at your firm. It’s evident that some systems are antiquated and need to be modernized so everyone can work more efficiently. There’s agreement among Partners and Finance leaders that an investment in some robust new technology is warranted. What then?
- In an Accounting Today piece on current challenges accounting firms are facing, Darren Root observes: “The number of applications available can be overwhelming to firms, not to mention the lack of integration and the complexity of training and updates required” and concludes that “that there is no one-size-fits-all technology stack.” Each firm needs a discerning leadership team working in tandem with a trusted technology partner to determine the best technology applications to achieve the firm’s goals.
- Finding the right technology partner isn’t as simple as buying some shiny new software. Beyond the promise of the tech, your firm needs to know that implementation will be smooth and that when their employees need training and support, their technology partner will be responsive and helpful.
- Change is an ongoing process, and it's essential to be flexible and open to feedback–even if it’s negative. This means being willing to make adjustments and improvements as needed, to ensure that the changes are successful. When done well, adopting technology like practice intelligence today will prepare your firm for tomorrow.
Is your firm in need of a strong technology partner to drive innovation? Schedule a demo to find out how our practice intelligence solutions can help.