Increasingly accountants are being involved in discussions around processes and technology with their SME clients, and this is natural because:
You understand the flow of money through a business,
You may be the only professional advisor an SME engages with in a year, and
Crucially, you are trusted by the SME.
Understanding this is a good starting point, but being familiar with the flows of data and information for your client operationally is not the same as being familiar with the financial flows. Yet, the two are still linked.
This is why industry specific apps handling operational tasks are integrated with accounting platforms – preventing manual duplication, and ensuring the same version of the truth is found across the board.
However, getting to a point where you can offer meaningful and valuable app advice for operational workflows is not as easy as it might be for administrative and financial workflows. To advise you first have to understand, and to understand you have to take time to learn the operational workflows. Read more about the differences.
That’s why just like there’s a process for engaging and completing compliance work, it’s important to also have a process when engaging in app advisory work, backed up by formal engagements.
Why should accountants engage in this work?
Businesses that have good systems in place that support good staff in doing good jobs are more likely to grow and be profitable then those that are not.
If you’re working to support your clients in putting those systems in place then you’re likely to benefit in the long run as they expand and you can grow your service offering to them.
Additionally, if you understand your clients’ operations, as well as their finances, and the integrations between the two, that knowledge will give you an upper hand.
To get to that level of understanding it’s not just you that’s put time and effort into the relationship, they have too, and they’re unlikely to want to do that all over again providing you’ve done a good job.
Engaging in this work
Engaging in this work doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be doing it yourself, but that shouldn’t prevent you from being able to offer the service.
This is the general process that applies systems advisory, you might do one or more of these steps yourself. If you carry out all of the steps yourself, we’d call that ‘Full Service App Advisory’.
Stage 1. You handle initial enquiries, assess them, and advise on next steps. We call this stage the fact-find or digital discovery. Read more about this stage in our Knowledge Base.
Stage 2. You carry out the next steps – process mapping, research and evaluation, and provide recommended options. Read more about this stage in our Knowledge Base.
Stage 3. You hand hold the client through demo’s, trials, and provide a full implementation service.
Stage 4. You support the client following implementation.
Read more about the core app advisory service areas.
If you’re a sole practitioner or a small firm you may not have the capacity to engage further than step one due to resource constraints and the likely cost/benefit that applies.
Of course this is a generalisation and how far you go will be determined by the type of clients that you are looking after, and ultimately whether they will pay you to support them with.
If you don’t carry out Full Service App Advisory, but want to support clients in improving their systems and processes, then you need to have a plan to fill the gaps so that there is a clear path for the client to be supported from stage 1 to stage 4.
You’re still adding value to the client relationship in the fact you are able to facilitate them getting support.
Even if you do want to do everything yourself, there’s still times where you’ll need support unless you have a specialist in everything!
At stage one we can provide a structure to the way that you handle systems advisory enquiries, and help you to understand what to do next so that you can provide your client with good advice.
If you don’t want to engage in stage two to four activities, then either:
We can engage you on a consultancy basis to provide process mapping, and research and evaluation services.
We can engage your client on a consultancy basis.
Where appropriate we can channel the enquiry through to one of our trusted partner consultants.
Get in touch to find out more about how we can work with you.
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