The modern accounting practice is built differently than old-style firms. One key change is the development of a technology operations leader role. A new box in the org chart that is essential to maximizing efficiencies and scale.
What Do We Mean by Technology Operations Leader?
The technology operations leader is responsible for the workflow from client to financial statements. They focus on making sure it works as efficiently as possible. To make that happen, they need experience in accounting and bookkeeping. They need a detailed knowledge of the firm’s processes. And they need to be able to isolate roadblocks, obstacles and areas of opportunity. But they also need to understand technology. What’s available and what’s coming. What works and doesn’t work. How to implement it. And how to integrate it with other apps critical to the practice's operations.
It’s a tough position to fill. Few people have both the accounting experience and the technology expertise you need. But if you find the right person, you can transform your practice. Here’s why.
Why Have a Technology Operations Leader
Having one point person responsible for technology and your workflow creates accountability. The accounting space is developing so quickly, you need dedicated eyes on what’s happening. And, as you continually improve, you need someone that staff and clients can reach out to for support.
The technology operations leader is responsible for the onboarding of all new tech. This means they are accountable for managing clients through each new workflow adoption curve.
They own each stage in the curve. In the awareness phase, they seek opportunities to improve the workflow. Then they research to find potential solutions. They manage the trial phase to ensure the solution will work internally. They choose the first client test group and run the initial adoption test. In the client migration stage, they then head up the onboarding of all clients. Finally they lead workflow mastery. Supporting staff and clients in their ongoing development of expertise with the new tech.
Two: Optimize workflow
Hiring or training a technology operations leader may seem like a cost. It might seem counterintuitive if you’re trying to increase efficiency. But the leader role is essential to optimizing your workflow and actually reducing costs.
A good leader increases profitability by finding new ways to automate. That continual streamlining of your process saves significant staff time. It frees them from the burdens of low-value tasks like sorting documents. A tech ops leader can liberate the team. They enable staff to work to the highest level of their capabilities.
Three: Drive value
A strong ops leader has the ability to create time, which can be used to provide more great advice. That adds value and increases revenue per client. It also means you can serve more clients.
The role generates revenue in another way as well. Consider the basics of your practice. If you don’t deliver a quality bookkeeping product, you’ll lose clients. They want great and clean books quickly. The tech ops leader is all about speeding up the flow from client docs to financial statements. The more efficiently and effectively this happens the more trust is built with clients. And increased trust means they’ll be more open to additional services you can provide. So a good tech ops leader can make upsell conversations a lot easier.
Four: Build better client relationships
A good tech ops leader focuses on improving more than just workflow. They provide better support. They improve training. They ease roadblocks for clients. Remove frustration. All the things that create better client experiences. A good leader drives strong, long-lasting relationships. They increase retention and grow the lifetime value of a client.
Whether you know it or not, you already have a technology operations leader. Look at your org chart. If you don’t see someone’s name in the leader box, it means you’re the one doing the job. That’s nature of running an agile practice. But, as you scale, it’s important to find the right person to fill the tech ops leader role. They may be a current team member who has an affinity for technology. Or it may be an external hire. But, until you find your leader you’re carrying the ball. So consider how much opportunity this role can create. And make time to do it well.