Do you have questions about how to grow your accounting practice online?
With technology continuing to evolve, accounting firms need to reach their clients in the most effective way possible. The transition from paper to digital recording systems may seem like an impossible task at first but can be simple and painless when you take the proper steps. If you could use some advice for making the digital move, this article is for you!
We partnered with CPA Academy to deliver an informative webinar, shedding some light on how to approach transitioning your business technology. The webinar, “Building a Virtual CPA Firm,” dives into the tech world and provides insight into how you can gain control over technology by simplifying its implementation at your firm.
The webinar was led by Daniel Moshe of Tech Guru who is passionate about applying technology to firms to grow business. His company specializes in providing accounting firms with innovative technology resources and guidance. We were glad to have him guide us through a look into accounting technology, cloud computing platforms, and how to use the cloud to optimize your workflow.
Developing your cloud ecosystem
As your firm transitions toward increased use of virtual systems, it is vital to focus on the applications your firm is using. In the past, hardware dominated computing culture. The fastest, most expensive hardware provided the best support for firms because of its sheer computing power. Now, with apps controlling most of the information, deciding how to build your app ecosystem takes precedent:
“It’s so easy to think it’s just about apps when it comes to technology … because hardware, security, and connectivity are there to support and deliver the applications. The applications are where all the magic happens.”– Daniel Moshe
When building an app ecosystem, intentionally focus on how the apps interact with each other. Some applications may advertise the ability to do everything for your firm, but in the end, they attempt to accomplish too many things and lack the depth of functionality your firm likely needs. On the other hand, apps with a specific focus may fail to integrate with one another, triggering silos and unproductive manual work. The key to building a solid cloud ecosystem is finding apps that work well with one another and provide your firm with the tools it needs:
“Ultimately, [integration] is what you need to be weighing and considering. What you want to make sure you have is apps that connect. That’s why I call it an ecosystem. [Applications] depend on, connect with, and integrate with each other. [Integrated applications] reduce the need for duplicate data entry, therefore reducing the potential for error and rework.”– Daniel Moshe
Choosing the right cloud computing platforms will provide the support your firm needs for scalable growth. The proper app ecosystem internally aids your firm by providing smoother workflow alongside remote working opportunities. It also boosts your customer interaction through sales and marketing software.
Utilizing cloud platforms for marketing
Every firm needs an efficient way to reach current customers and attract potential clients. Creating a good app ecosystem provides you with abilities for marketing automation. These programs assist you by delivering your audience the content you choose for them and giving your firm the ability to engage customers actively. Many marketing programs incorporate customer relationship management systems or CRMs:
“Marketing automation is going to help you get your content out to your audience. It’s going to help you identify those who are engaging with it and provide calls to action. When they’re interested [in your content], there’s a way for them to raise their hand and say, ‘Hey, we want to talk to you about whatever it is that you’re offering.’ And [they have] built-in CRM or customer relationship management. So as people [respond], you can make sure that there are specific action items and when to follow up.”– Daniel Moshe
Integrating customer relationship management systems allows your firm to automate much of the follow-up process with clients. CRM helps establish and solidify relationships with your clients:
“[CRM applications] manage relationships in an intentional way. They share the responsibility of staying in touch with key people, top clients, and individuals who are helping connect you with your potential clients.”– Daniel Moshe
To make your marketing applications as effective as possible, you need great content. One effective way to create the content you need is to implement a copywriting service:
“No sales and marketing platform is going to work without great content. [When you create great content] all the great ideas you have about business, finance, accounting, and tax get out of your head and into the inboxes of people who want to hear from you. What I do is dictate the ideas I have to a copywriter who will [take that information] and put it into either a blog post or [use it] in an email campaign.”– Daniel Moshe
Coupling marketing platforms with effective content creation optimizes your potential for reaching new clients and offering fresh solutions to current customers. Unlocking potential gives your firm growth opportunities that would have been unattainable without the proper software.
Implementing back-office cloud management platforms
After you grow your customer management platforms, the next step is to implement the proper behind-the-scenes software. The implementation of cloud-based management platforms such as tax and document management solutions aid in delivering an excellent service experience and flexibility within your team:
“Move to the cloud version of [tax and management] platforms. When you are growing and scaling, want to bring in outside help, or acquire another office, you have the ability to do that without technology holding you back.”– Daniel Moshe
As your firm grows, using the cloud-based version of your current accounting software provides an effective way to implement existing systems without relying on hardware. One of the primary reasons firms avoid switching to virtual systems is fear of technology outages. Even though outages pose a potential problem, firms relying on outdated server hardware experience more significant outage problems:
“I know there have been outages in the past [on cloud platforms], and the fact that there’s a two to three-day recovery time is really good. … When technology problems hit CPA firms that aren’t well prepared, the technology outage can last days and weeks. Just think about that from the standpoint of lost productivity during the busy season.”– Daniel Moshe
In addition to providing a reliable way to keep records, cloud-based accounting technology also expands your ability to integrate with your client records. The access to client records opens the opportunities of becoming a better advisor and promoting financial literacy within your client base:
“In terms of client engagement, providing account advisory, and dashboard services to your clients, getting your clients on [cloud-based bookkeeping platforms] is a way you can automate those services and provide that as a value-added service to your clients. It helps them make sense of their numbers, and what business owners desperately need is advice around how to run a great business from a financial standpoint. Financial literacy is a huge problem in the small business and entrepreneurial communities.”– Daniel Moshe
Employing cloud-based management software as a solution for your clients’ record-keeping process also gives you the ability to offer new services like platform set-up and maintenance:
“[Cloud management software] puts financial data into the cloud and connects directly to your clients’ bank accounts and payroll providers. … You can charge fees to help your clients set all these things up, and then provide them ongoing support and maintenance of these platforms.”– Daniel Moshe
The proper implementation of a cloud ecosystem creates numerous advantages for your firm. As a result, you benefit from flexible work solutions for your team, better turnaround on technology outages, the potential to seamlessly integrate with your clients’ records, and opportunities to provide value-added services. Utilizing these tools empowers your firm with resources for scalable expansion and effective client relations.
Learn more about cloud management platforms and connected technology
Stepping away from server-based software and moving toward cloud-based applications may seem daunting, but it offers the possibility of facilitating exponential growth within your firm. When you shift your focus to virtual software solutions, your firm naturally grows into a scalable business that benefits from integration with your client base:
“Step one, automate your back office. Step two, provide this as a service for your clients to help them automate as well. [Cloud management platforms] offer a lot of opportunity for vertical growth, specialization, and [the ability] to add recurring revenue.”– Daniel Moshe
If you would like to learn more about the technology platforms that can help your firm grow, check out the entire webinar here. Also, be sure to check out Part One and Part Three of this article series for more information about implementing connected technology to facilitate organic business growth.
Our mission at Gusto is to create a world where accounting firms can seamlessly integrate technology to facilitate growth. We currently partner with over 4,500 firms nationwide to create incredible workplaces. Be sure to look into our People Advisory Program to learn how to train your team to reach its potential. We also provide a partner blog full of resources for all your advising needs. Visit our Gusto for Accountants page for more information on utilizing people-based accounting within your firm.