Traditionally, the accounting technology industry has emphasized efficiency, regulation, and stability while relying on in-house tech servers and other IT hardware as customary foundations. However, just as technology has permeated every aspect of our lives, it’s also been reshaping the landscape for accountants. While some firms have maintained their classic office-based model, most firms are embracing a hybrid approach or moving entirely remote. This has expanded the scope of IT support, with home offices becoming just as crucial as corporate headquarters.
“Between 2020 and 2022, the number of surveyed accounting firms that said they allow their employees to work remotely from the location of their choosing on a regular and fluid basis went from 42% to 78%….”Accounting and the remote world – Accounting Today
As the work environment diversifies, so do the technology needs of accountants. To identify these evolving demands, we’ve turned to the very individuals at the helm of this change. Over the years, we’ve received a wealth of insights from technology questionnaires completed by hundreds of individuals who steer the direction of their accounting firms. These are the owners, managers, presidents, heads of operations, and partners who make pivotal decisions about their firm’s technological needs and investments. Using the advanced capabilities of GPT-4 to this rich dataset, we’ve identified the top seven IT services that modern accounting firms and their leaders consider crucial from their IT partners.
1. Seamless and Dependable IT Solutions
As professionals entrusted with vast quantities of sensitive data, accountants need reliable IT solutions that sync effortlessly with their current systems. For instance, modern tax software should automate intricate computations and flawlessly connect with other management systems, ensuring error-free data transfer. Furthermore, readily accessible IT support is a must, promptly resolving even minor glitches and allowing accountants to concentrate on their tasks without IT-related worries. The role of your IT provider is to know accounting technology like the back of their hand while ensuring it works when you need it most.
2. Training and In-house Support
Optimal utilization of IT tools involves more than just access to a detailed user manual. Customized training sessions, tailored to the specific needs and challenges of the accounting team, are paramount. Even a concise training module on leveraging advanced features of Excel software can significantly enhance data analysis speed. Besides, a dedicated in-house support team can deliver fast problem resolution, minimizing downtime and ensuring seamless operations. There’s no way to quantify the value of an IT provider that provides a comprehensive solution for software implementation, training, and immediate support, all in one place.
3. Cloud-based Solutions and Remote Work Support
As remote work becomes commonplace, offering IT services that support this trend is crucial. According to Fundera, 67% of accountants believe cloud computing will further help them carry out their roles in the future. Cloud-based accounting systems allow professionals to access, update, and share financial data from any location, enhancing collaboration and reducing errors and duplicative work. An IT team that can support your cloud ecosystem is essential, regardless of your work environment, be it in-office, hybrid, or fully remote.
4. Strengthening Security Measures
Given the sensitive financial data they handle, it’s fair to say that every accountant, irrespective of their role, should have an inherent and rightful concern about strengthening their cybersecurity measures. Regular security audits, advanced threat detection systems, and robust encryption are non-negotiable. For example, implementing a two-factor authentication system can add a strong security layer, making unauthorized data access more challenging. “Cybersecurity” was mentioned as a growing concern by almost all respondents in our questionnaire at some stage.
5. Leveraging Automation for Workflow Efficiency
Understanding the time costs associated with repetitive tasks, accountants value automation. Over half of accountants mentioned some form of automation being necessary in the near future to help streamline repetitive processes. IT providers can offer tools to automate tasks such as data entry, invoice generation, tracking unpaid bills, and streamlining routine practice management tasks.
6. Enabling Effective Communication and Collaboration
Remote teams need tools that support collaboration and clear communication. Shared digital workspaces allow simultaneous work on a financial report, even from disparate locations. Platforms for instant messaging and video conferencing recreate the office environment digitally, facilitating productive discussions and brainstorming sessions. According to a report by Wolters Kluwer, over 60% of accounting firms reported that technology increased staff engagement and morale – contributing to a significant increase in staff retention.
7. Proactive IT Management & Strategy
IT providers can add significant value by foreseeing and preventing issues rather than just responding to problems. Regular system performance monitoring can provide early warnings, enabling the IT team to mitigate issues before they impact the accountants’ workflow. Nearly all questionnaire respondents mentioned the challenge of keeping up with the latest accounting technology solutions that are helping other firms grow. Having an IT provider who can manage your technology landscape, maintain compliance, increase efficiency, and continuously provide strategic advice has never been more critical. Highlighting the importance of strategic tech planning, over 70% of our respondents expressed a keen interest in having a written technology plan to navigate the demands of the upcoming tax season seamlessly.
Evolving IT Services for Accounting Firms
Accountants need IT partners who can adapt to their ever-changing needs. As an IT provider specializing in serving accounting firms, we’re constantly evolving our services to align with these seven areas, ensuring our clients benefit from IT solutions that truly enhance their work.
If you’re pondering how these services could enrich your accounting practice, consider scheduling a free technology planning workshop with one of our accounting tech specialists. It’s your chance to discover how the right IT services can boost your efficiency, strengthen your security, and contribute significantly to your firm’s success.