30 years ago, accounting software was only available for DOS (a pre-Windows operating system). It cost thousands of dollars and was so complex that only accountants and very savvy larger businesses could use it.
Think about what’s happened since then. The friendlier Windows and Macintosh operating systems spawned a new generation of small business accounting software that could be afforded and used by non-accountants. Computers became less expensive.
The Internet made it possible for employees to sign in to the same company file from anywhere in the world where they had an internet connection and do bookkeeping tasks. Smartphones made accounting fit in the palms of our hands.
If you’ve been in business long enough to have witnessed these changes, you probably remember the growing pains – and the mistakes. The adoption of new technology has always required five things:
- Budget dollars for hardware and software (and eventually, internet access)
- A willingness to learn – or to ask for help when you’re stumped
- Acceptance of new procedures by employees, customers, vendors, and management
- Time to make the transition
Assessing Your Readiness
How do you know whether it’s time to move from paper to QuickBooks, or to an online accounting solution? And how do you know whether you’re agile enough? You’ll have to ask yourself a number of questions.
You have the staff you have, which is probably a mix of individuals who are eager to tackle new technology and others who want to know what was wrong with the old way you did things. How will the latter group respond to giving up their paper invoices and calendars, their sticky notes and file folders?
When it’s time to increase the employee count in your accounting department, you should have another criterion in mind when you interview and hire: Is the candidate comfortable with learning new ways to do things? What is their track record with using technology to get things done?
Are you nimble enough yourself? Will you be able to deal with the inevitable questions, problems, and errors?
Are you willing to push for budget money to pay for high-tech tools and services that you know will make your accounting department faster, more productive, and more accurate? How will you make your case?
You’ll need to arm yourself with a number of things. You’re going to have to talk to your employees about the benefits of taking on new technology. Tell them they’ll be able to, for example:
- Do less boring, repetitive work.
- Meet their deadlines better.
- Add to their knowledge set, their portfolio of skills.
- Be able to find critical details quickly.
Once your employees have bought the concept, you’ll be able to answer the first question (after, How much will this cost?) that your boss has: Will your department be able to make a major change like this? You can talk about how your employees’ job satisfaction and productivity will improve, and then how management will benefit: by getting the financial information it needs—quickly and accurately—to make better business decisions.
Don’t Go It Alone
Agility, obviously, will be required from top to bottom if you’re going to successfully take on new technology that will make your company’s accounting department competitive with many of its peers.
Will you need help with the logistics? We’ve helped countless small businesses implement state-of-the-art technology in their accounting operations, and we’ve seen what a dramatic change it’s made. Let us know what part we can play in this important transition. Contact your MarksNelson professional at 816-743-7700.