Accountants that work with their clients as technology advisors help them choose the right software to ensure operational efficiencies. With the many complexities of delivering accounting services, industry experts who understand accounting and the technology infrastructure required are invaluable.
As the tech guru for their clients, accountant technology advisors have the challenging task of helping their clients determine which software will work with their existing infrastructure. They can also help them figure out what systems need updating and the best way to ensure smooth integration.
There are five steps during the software selection process. Each step focuses on the needs of the organization and those who work there.
5 Steps to Take During the Software Selection Process
Many clients may find it challenging to choose from all the financial technology and software available. But at some point, growing clients must rethink their financial systems and processes. Having the right tools is no longer nice to have. It’s a necessity.
Today, some smaller accounting firms can get by with the limited capabilities of legacy systems and entry-level cloud software. However, most tech experts know that these systems are often not scalable.
Every client has individual needs and system requirements which can make the selection process a challenge. So, when choosing the right financial software, these five steps will make the process easier.
1. Building the Matrix
A matrix is a tool advisors can use to categorize each facet of the software and the solutions it needs to offer. Set it up as a grid with rows and columns for easy reference and visual simplicity.
First, determine what requirements the client has for their tech stack. Build a column for these requirements and prioritize them accordingly.
Include the right stakeholders and consider the weight of their input and the options available. When building the matrix, place the app options in the remaining columns.
2. Gathering Options
Next, gather the available options and place them on the list. Break them down according to their requirements and additional features beyond the program’s basic functionality.
Assess the client’s needs and then discuss with industry colleagues what solutions they chose to solve specific issues within their operations. Ask them what programs work well, which were not a good investment, and how difficult each was to learn.
Discuss areas of opportunity for improvements and ask the client about the landscape. Their input will make it easier to decide which program will work best for them based on the staff’s skills and the existing infrastructure’s capabilities.
3. Evaluating the Options
Once the list of requirements and options is complete, it’s time to evaluate each option to see if it will meet the client’s needs. Schedule a hands-on demo that allows users to try the program before investing the money. Begin by loading the program with sample data.
During the evaluation process, make sure to include the right stakeholders in the demos. Get their input regarding the needs of each department.
Rate and rank each of the programs getting evaluated. The matrix will help with this to ensure that every facet of the program is being considered.
4. Testing and Proof of Concept
At this point, the choices should be narrowed down to one or two options per solution, making it easier to test each solution against the issues they should resolve.
Testing and proof of concept is a simple process with great focus. It will help determine whether the firm can implement the integration or not.
It will cover the pros and cons of the concept, what improvements it requires, and what it lacks. When an idea is being circulated, it’s paramount to confirm it works rather than assuming.
During the demo, conduct a test with a small group. Load some sample data and test the practical uses. Evaluate whether this solution will meet the needs of the client.
Make a list to determine the path of remediation. Document the processes and outline the steps taken to solve or resolve the issue the software is meant to handle.
Make sure that the options selected are technologically feasible from every standpoint. The overall purpose is to find answers from a practical viewpoint for all technologically driven problems.
5. Deployment and/or Migration
Once the software has been chosen, the next step is deployment. The tech advisor should be able to ensure that the integration and migration of data go smoothly with little downtime.
Training is essential to ensure the entire staff knows how to use the new systems. Begin with management and ensure they can use the software fluently. Offer training sessions and support services.
Determine a communications plan so any issues can be addressed on time. It will also facilitate collaboration among the team.
If possible, publish helpful how-tos for simple processes and other training materials to make integration as painless as possible. As the firm’s technology advisor, ensure that the teams know how to get the assistance they need.
Let the Gurus Help You Choose the Right Software for Your Clients
Choosing the right software for your clients is easier than you might think. If you have been working as an accountant and technology advisor (or are ready to offer your clients your tech expertise), consider working with an IT company specializing in your industry and offering strategic advice. That way, you can share your wealth of knowledge with your clients, strengthening your relationships.
We didn’t become Tech Gurus without the help of other industry experts while we honed our craft. We want to help you make the right choices for your clients by sharing our experience with you.
At Tech Guru, we offer a 60-minute complimentary consultation with one of our Accounting Tech Experts. We can help you understand what steps your clients can take toward a higher-level technology action plan.
Send your clients this worksheet to help them identify, prioritize, and decide what aspects of their tech stack need to be addressed and improved. This will help you get the conversation started. Download our Accounting Firm Technology Worksheet to get started.