As an accountant, you may already be very aware of the role modern technology has to play in the industry. However, an often surprising number of qualified accountants in Ireland report that they feel the pace of change in modern digital tools has left them behind somewhat. As such, they will still often rely on paper-based accountancy methods, especially if their clients rely on old-fashioned ledger entries made with pen and paper. Of course, most accountants – nearly all, in fact – will have used email, spreadsheets and bookkeeping software before but their digital skills might not always extend far beyond being able to cope with the basics.
Equally, if you are working as an account right now and think that you really don’t want to turn yourself into some kind of IT guru, then you won’t be alone. Keeping up to date with all of the latest accountancy regulations and changes in law is quite enough learning for many accountancy professionals these days. So, what can you do to become more tech-savvy as an accountant without taking your eye off the ball of what really counts – your accountancy work? Read on and follow our tips for some of the best ways you can upskill with the digital tools of the future without becoming overwhelmed by technology.
Ask Clients About Their Expectations
To begin with, it is a good idea for any professional accountant to ask themselves why they are embarking on a journey of becoming savvier with technology. The answer can often be found most readily by asking your clients what their expectations are surrounding digital tools today. You may well find that an important client is switching their system to a computerised one in the near future or at least looking into making this sort of investment. If so, you will also gain an insight into what sort of software you might be expected to work with down the line.
Overall, customers tend to be fairly honest about their intentions when they are dealing with professional service providers like accountants. If their intention is to become more digitised over time – and this is certainly a growing trend among many Irish companies today – then you will know which direction you will have to move in. Perhaps more importantly, however, you will better understand why you are bothering to gain new digital skills in the first place. In turn, this should provide you with all of the motivation you need as a professional to gain new skills and to learn about nascent technologies.
Simply put, by talking to your customers about what they want today and what they might require in the future, you’ll be better equipped to make the right sort of digital transition from where you are right now. In addition, it will help to put your client base at ease with them being informed about the necessary work you are doing to continue supporting them down the line.
Make Use of Cloud Services
Learning about how a particular software system might seem daunting at first. After all, there are so many around it can be hard to know where to start. Even worse, paying for an accounts package often means making a significant investment decision. The question is – how do you know which package to buy first when you might find you prefer using a different one and learning about that instead? The answer to this question – very often – is that you should opt for a scalable service that allows you to ‘play’ with it without having to commit fully to multiple user licenses.
Another good thing about cloud-based software is that you won’t have to worry about hardware systems. Nearly all good cloud-based software – whether it is financial software or any other kind – is that it will work well with just about any sort of terminal device. In other words, you won’t need to buy a superfast computer to run the software. Nor will you need your own server and security systems in place. This is because when software is accessed securely through the cloud – with a unique user name and password – the information that is stored is never held on the local device accessing it. Instead, it will be held in one or more secure servers that are virtually inaccessible to hackers.
With this approach, you can learn about modern accountancy software without having to become an IT expert in things like local area networking, server equipment and GDPR-compliant local security systems. Everything will be taken care of for you allowing you to concentrate on how to use the software in the best way for your clients’ requirements. Cloud-based accountancy software solutions also tend to afford an economy of scale so they are ideal if you want to limit your outgoings while focussing on upskilling your use of the current crop of digital financial packages.
Seek Help From Tech-Savvy Colleagues
It can be tough sometimes to seek help when you need it but there is nothing wrong with so doing, especially when it comes to technology. To be clear, it is always okay to admit you don’t know something or that you don’t understand something fully and to seek assistance. After all, no one was born an accountant without needing to gain skills and to prove their competence in the industry and it is no different with information technology.
Indeed, colleagues who are more au fait with technology can be very useful people to ask for help from. That’s because – even if they are not qualified accountants themselves – they will often see things from an accountancy point of view. This means you will often be able to gain insights from them that not only explain the technology you are trying to grasp but point out the most relevant aspects of it for the profession.
It is worth noting, however, that a tech-savvy colleague doesn’t necessarily mean someone who happens to be younger than you. Although younger people tend to be less worried by modern digital working methods – because using such tools has been a part of their entire working lives – it doesn’t always mean they grasp the fundamental concepts behind them. In other words, find someone who has the skills you really need and seek advice from him or her whatever their age might happen to be.
Find Solution Providers With Intuitive Tools
This is perhaps the single most important piece of advice that accountants can take on if they want to obtain ‘easy wins’ when it comes to upskilling with modern technology. Simply put, some software systems are far easier to use than others. If you opt for the former – the ones that offer intuitive tools and graphical user interfaces that help you to understand what something is or does before you even click on it – the easier it will be for you to learn how the system works. This is ideal if you want to make some rapid progress with your technical abilities, of course.
Bear in mind that not all accountancy software systems offer the same level of functionality, either. As such, you want the software’s tools and user modules to be easy to pick up but also extensive, as well. This way, you will learn one aspect of the system – such as the payroll features, for example – and then be able to apply what you have learned to other aspects of the package like job costing or producing management reports, for instance.
An important part of finding a suitable software solution provider is that doing so will help you in a raft of different accountancy tasks. This way, you can start off in one area of the job and make progress with other areas of digital accountancy as you gain confidence, thereby improving your skillset at a pace that suits you. The Quantum range of solutions certainly delivers in this department and is well worth checking out further if you are looking for a suitable system.