The app ecosystem has exploded over in the last few years, providing accountants and businesses with countless new tools that promise efficiency, cost savings, and increased productivity. While the proliferation of new software systems has undoubtedly helped the accounting industry, it has also created a new challenge: how to choose the right software.
Navigating the app ecosystem and software options in the market doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Start by looking internally and at your firm, and answer these questions to help you determine what software tools and functionality you need.
1. What are your most significant pain points
If you are tempted to try the latest tool or app just because it is new and trendy, it’s time to reign it in. There’s an app for everything, which means that you need to be careful when you select the ones you are going to use or else you could end up wasting time and money on tools you do not need. Before you even begin investigating new tools, you must evaluate your most significant challenges and pain points. Is communication a problem? Perhaps you are dealing with too many paper documents? Are payments causing you headaches? You may want a communication platform like Slack, a receipt-capture tool like Hubdoc or Receipt Bank, or an online payment provider like Plooto. Discuss challenges with your team to identify the biggest pain points and select tools based on those needs.
2. What do your clients want?
There are various reasons for choosing apps; however, if you want to improve your services or create new revenue streams within your existing client base, it is critical to consider what your clients want. Are your clients looking for more insights into their financials? Do they need better workflows? Would they prefer cloud-based systems that they can access from anywhere? Consider the unique needs for the type of client you serve, their technology preferences, and the costs and fees that you will be able to charge. All of these considerations will help you narrow down your options and ultimately choose a solution that will help you grow your practice.
3. What kind of clients do you want?
Technology can also provide the opportunity to acquire new clients. If this is one of your goals, you must consider the type of clients you want to acquire and their needs. Perhaps you want more profitable clients, larger clients, or clients within a specific niche. The software and apps that you choose must support these clients.For instance, non-profits have specific requirements around payment approvals, which makes AP automation a no-brainer.
4. What can you implement?
Lastly, you must consider what you can realistically implement into your other technologies and operations. You need to allow enough time and money to correctly implement the software, learn how to use it, and train your clients to get the full value from these apps. Therefore, your budget, resources, and time constraints are all factors you need to consider when choosing software. You may also need to implement specific platforms before introducing others, so a timeline is essential. Most of the time, cloud software requires less implementation time and fewer resources, but it must be able to integrate with your other technologies. Be realistic about your limitations so that you get value from the apps that you choose.
When you know what you need, navigating the app ecosystem is easy. Answering these questions before purchasing a new tool will help you look beyond the flashy marketing and eliminate countless apps and platforms that do not work well for your needs.