How Technology Can Drive Efficiency Amidst a Talent Shortage
The top 100 accounting firms in the US list rising salaries, capacity, the war for talent, staff retention and burnout as their top challenges this year. These talent-related challenges are unsurprising as nearly 300,000 professionals have left the industry for retirement or other roles in finance and technology. Firms also identified technology-related concerns, including keeping up with tech, the price of IT and cybersecurity within their top 10 concerns.
While the talent shortage persists, firms need to harness the opportunity brought by technology to boost efficiency and continue exceeding client expectations with fewer hands-on deck. Technology is an opportunity for firms to reduce manual, mundane tasks to enable staff to focus on value-added services. The introduction of AI into the profession can also help firms save additional time when drafting marketing materials, client emails, and more. Rather than approaching technology as a challenge, it must be viewed as an opportunity.
Drive efficiency for staff with technology-enabled systems
Simply throwing new technology at your firm’s staffing problems is not the right approach and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Firms need to establish what is working well at the firm, what needs improvement and areas where staff can better spend their time. By identifying immediate and long-term goals, firms can create a concrete technology strategy that streamlines processes and enables staff to spend more time building client relationships and delivering value-added services. Some systems that firms can evaluate include:
- Cloud-based systems: On-premise systems are inherently less efficient as servers can go down and require manual intervention, a power outage can completely halt business and cybersecurity measures must be manually updated – all byproducts that decrease staff’s productivity. Cloud-based systems allow firms to attract more diverse talent by enabling work-from-anywhere policies that lead to heightened staff retention and attraction. Furthermore, a third party maintains cloud systems, meaning less time is spent on manual server upkeep within your firm, whether by an in-person IT team or an outsourced Managed Service Provider.
- Streamlined document management: Documents are the lifeblood of accounting firms, but ensuring resources are filed in the proper location or locating files in the wrong location results in staff spending less time servicing clients. Seamless document management can free up valuable staff hours by integrating systems and auto-filing documents.
- Automated workflows: Busy season can leave accountants working 50+ hour weeks – but inaccurate task tracking can leave one team member clocking in 40 hours and another 60 hours, creating a situation for staff burnout. By evenly distributing work and providing additional resources to staff, firms can reduce turnover as well as recruitment and training costs for new employees.
- Payroll Processing: Payroll processing can help firms reduce potential compliance headaches, but manual payroll processes are time-consuming and do not generate substantial revenue. By leveraging outsourced payroll processing, firms can reap the same compliance benefits while enabling staff to spend more time on value-added services.
Technology is a key enabler that can solve many talent shortage-associated headaches firms face today. Further, consolidating service providers and selecting a single provider across several business technologies can reduce costs, streamline implementation and training timelines and scale with the firm.