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The 4 Accounting Pillars for Digital Transformation

Article by Diogo Correa
July 16, 2019

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TECH PATROL - Accounting

The world of business is facing another wave of the digital revolution, and the accounting sector is no exception. You heard it in game of thrones: “Winter is coming”. Well now the clouds have arrived and firms need to be ready. This article will help you to understand the main areas of focus for “New Age” accounting firms to help you understand what to be focusing on as a small to medium-sized accounting practice.

SO how should accounting firms be going about the business of digitisation if they don’t have an MSP partner? First and foremost, any new technology must offer a tangible benefit to the client or the firm internally. Beyond this, however, is the need to ensure that the right talent is available to use it. 

 Beaming’s research indicates that 40% of Accounting Firms plan to recruit software developers and other technologists, while 14% are planning to appoint a digital strategist to their senior teams. This shows that there is a clear need to understand Technology in business and where it’s headed.

Here are the 4 Pillars: 

Pillar 1: Digitisation & Collaboration

Accounting firms across Australia and the world have moved to cloud-based accounting packages such as MYOB and Quickbooks Online, to more prem hosting of office infrastructure, accounting firms have become more accustomed to using the cloud over recent years. 

The cloud has lots to offer businesses looking for greater convenience, collaboration, and flexibility. Accounting firms recognise this. Research shows that two thirds (62%) of accounting firms are planning to invest in cloud-based infrastructure by the end of 2019. 

The more crucial aspect of this is that these investments are being planned with security and compliance in mind. The majority of the firms planning to make greater use of cloud technologies this year will choose to use private clouds or co-location services, dedicated IT assets owned by the practice and hosted in their own dedicated data centre or one of a trusted third party. These kinds of services are vital for accounting practices, which are responsible for highly sensitive data and need to be certain about where it is being held to make sure they are being compliant with Australian Laws. 

Pillar 2: Cyber Security

One of the greatest challenges of digitisation, particularly when it comes to money matters, is cyber security and we understand this better than anybody.

If you’re handing a huge amount of private information, certainly you will need reassurances before committing to any kind of technological solution. Security is an urgent priority to which firms must pay more than lip service.

More than half (56%) of accountancy practices plan to upgrade their cybersecurity defences in 2019, following a 12 month period during which time two thirds (62%) fell victim to some form of cybercrime. Across the AUS, it was calculated that almost 14,000 accounting firms fell victim to some form of cybercrime in 2018. Malware and data breaches were the most commonly cited threats, each affecting almost a fifth of the firms questioned.

Pillar 3: Practice Management

It’s no secret that Accounting Practice Management software is the one topic that can go a thousand different directions depending on who you ask. Let’s be honest with our selves, it’s a little messy and there are plenty of accounting practice leaders that are divided on what ‘practice management’ should be. 

The missing link in the question “Will this software run and manage the back-office of my accounting practice?” Is that, it’s not the right question…

The real question you should be asking yourself (which is where we come in) is whether you want to go with a suite or best-of-breed that aligns with your business goals and has endless retention. Digital First’s Alan FitzGerald answers just this in his article found here.

Not only that, from years of experience we understand that your requirements will change as your practice grows. Larger firms may want a full suite whilst smaller firms may want to stay agile with a different piece and we currently, to date, helped with the transition from small to large infrastructure.

 Pillar 4: Data Retention

For this section, we have written an entire eBook dedicated to demonstrating the legal sections noting exactly what documents Australian Accounting Firms need to keep, how you should be keeping them and for how long to keep them. This comprehensive document can be found on this page here.

This topic is one that we have gained a lot of ground in the last few years. There have been articles upon articles and newsletters sent out urging accounting firms to adopt a written retention policy, share it with all firm personnel and to inform clients of this new retention policy. They aren’t wrong. 

Accounting firms should obtain the necessary counsel to ensure that local and state jurisdiction regulatory requirements are met and that’s where an MSP can be incredibly valuable for a firm. Not only should firms consider the state in which they reside, but additionally states where significant clients are located. Refer to our document mentioned above for further details regarding this pillar.

If you would like a quick chat to make sure you’re covered of for a quick information call please contact Diogo@techpatrol.com.au 

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