Business often involves repetition (at least the things that work are usually worth repeating !) however have you ever found yourself repeating the same old tasks without making any real progress? Just like re-living your own Groundhog Day, over and over again……… well Accounting Technology maybe just awakening from its own (20 year) Groundhog Day!
I can vividly recall the buzz around desktop accounting software back in the mid 1990’s (not too dissimilar from the excitement of the Cloud today) and whilst much progress has been made since then it is arguable that “The Promise” has actually been delivered to small business.
So what is “The Promise”?
Part of The Promise was that technology would provide a platform for more efficient businesses, creating a connected, streamlined world with systems that dealt with compliance behind the scenes (the BAS, Bookwork, Tax Returns all being dealt with) in order to make the process of accounting invisible. The result being that Trusted Advisors (Accountants, Bookkeepers, Consultants – The ABC’s to SMB’s), could then get on with delivering Proactive Business Advisory services. In the process adding value to the clients business and their owners lives.
Imagine a world in which technology Completed, Complimented and Enabled a platform upon which the business owner could fast track the realisation of their goals and dreams of why they entered the world of business in the first place (perhaps seeking more time, more money and even that elusive notion of freedom).
The reality has been that Small Business Accounting Technology systems have been mostly delivering Compliance Computing for the past 2 decades, leaving the big picture promise widely under-delivered. Then just when the systems were being refined to cater for streamlined business processes, the cloud arrives with the bold promise to deliver on what the desktop world largely failed to do, so it’s out with the old and in with the new.
So a few years in are we seeing this new medium delivering on the Promise? It’s still early days and whilst there are tremendously exciting developments, there is also concern that we are re-living the Groundhog Day world all over again. One trend we are seeing is Accountants and Bookkeepers (AB’s) getting bogged down in “The Switch” process and once an SMB sees you as their lifeline to the new world you better be ready to gear up to support an insatiable appetite for change and forget about your day job. Fundamentally AB’s will need to decide if they are going to move into the Consultants world or look at the option of partnering with specialist systems (cloud) integrators (Lego Masters
as my good friend Doug Sleeter puts it) who’s job is to identify which pieces actually exist in the clients puzzle and how do you join them all together.
Doug Sleeter says – Think about what it takes to become a “Lego Master.” These masters can quickly identify the right Lego pieces from thousands of shapes, sizes, colors, and textures, and assemble them using the right connections in order to create the most complex and interesting structures. These skills are a perfect analogy for what we must develop to succeed with clients in the new world of cloud-based, chunkified accounting software
Whilst many businesses have already devoted time and resources to making the switch from the Desktop to Cloud environment, the Early Majority wave is yet to come. The spotlight is now on us all delivering The Promise, enhancing business efficiency with the roll out of carefully considered solutions that add value to the business. This involves more than just removing obvious pain points of the desktop world, although that is part of the reason for the transition – It’s Not the Place to End At! Otherwise we will be just repeating the transition phase and fail to truly deliver the Promise – Again 😦
The potential is certainly there for the Promise to be delivered this time round, however it is going to take an environment of active, continued collaboration by all stakeholders in the Accounting Tech profession to make it a reality. We all have a responsibility to participate with a Focus on the End at the Beginning to ensure that this time – the Promise is delivered, Small Business certainly deserves that we do, and I believe we can 🙂