Hubdoc caught up with one of the Australia's leading cloud accounting firms, Growthwise, to get their insights on app fatigue. This is Part 1 of a two-part blog series.
Within the last five years, there has been exponential growth in the number of available cloud accounting applications. In fact, it’s estimated that the cloud accounting ecosystem has doubled in size!
With thousands of apps flooding the market, accountants and bookkeepers may feel like they’re drowning in a sea of add-ons. While that might sound morbid (it is!), I believe app fatigue can – and should – be characterized as an epidemic. The rapid spread and increase of advisors with app fatigue is causing many firms to overlook new apps, which could potentially impact their client experience and their firm’s success in the long run.
I spoke with Beau Gaudron, Tech Ninja at Growthwise, to trade perspectives on the issue.
What is app fatigue?
App fatigue is the reluctance to explore new tech applications due to the feeling that there are just too many apps.
As Beau explains below, the oversaturation of the market is a key contributor to this issue.
“There really does seem to be an app for just about everything! We have so many options for everything from the way we communicate with clients to the accounting systems our clients use, to the work papers and reporting solutions we use, let alone the key components of what we need to actually run our businesses (such as Practice Management, HR, etc.). Deciding which apps are best for our business is now becoming a huge issue.”
Equally challenging is the daunting task of learning and adopting a new product. You just implemented software A that solves problem X, and now the thought of implementing software B that solves problem Y seems as tiresome as the issue you’re trying to solve.
Plus, there are often costs involved with testing and onboarding new apps. Time spent implementing is a direct cost to a business. Additionally, many apps charge you to have your own account (even for testing!).
Why is it important to acknowledge app fatigue at your practice?
App fatigue can lead to the feeling that there are no further efficiencies to be gained in the market. This can also cause an unwillingness to explore new technology options, as well as redundancies in your tech stack due to a lack of understanding of your technology.
“App fatigue can result in accountants not using their current apps to their full extent. Take a look at any app inside your business. Do you have processes or rules in place for that app to ensure you are getting the most out of it? Do you have a champion in your business who is in charge of helping the rest of the team and training them on updates? When was the last time you just hit the button to snooze or delete the little pop-up that told you about new features? Sometimes, this results in us having multiple apps for things when we could eliminate some of them if we just understood the full capabilities.”
Believing that there are no further efficiencies to be gained in the market is risky. When successful companies stop innovating or exploring areas of improvement (often due to current success), they might decrease opportunities for growth. We can look no further than Twitter and Yahoo to see the consequences of once hugely successful companies that stopped innovating. While Twitter has recently experienced stock plunges due to user growth issues, Yahoo was involved in the most disappointing $4.8 billion sale in the history of tech.
Confusion over the ownership of your accounting tech stack can make the negative effects of app fatigue even worse. As Beau explains, this is a big issue for smaller firms.
“The difference we see among small accounting or bookkeeping firms is that they don't have dedicated IT divisions, which then means the job of which apps get deployed into every businesses lies with the owners, a practice manager, or the smart kid in the corner who loves technology. They are faced not only with the question of what apps to implement, but also who should be in charge and how to get support for this app.”
Recognizing that app fatigue is an issue faced by your firm and assigning someone to manage your tech stack are both important steps when starting to overcome app fatigue. Ignoring it won't make it go away!
Overcoming app fatigue
So, how do advisors continue to innovate and build an effective technology stack in an oversaturated space? Fortunately, there are ways you can efficiently evaluate accounting apps, navigate the cloud accounting tech landscape, and embrace change.
“Some might think that overcoming app fatigue means we should just stick with what we have – and I'm certainly not saying that! What we need is a solid plan for the problems we are trying to solve internally in our businesses first. Then we need to find the right apps that really do solve those problems, learn everything about them, and roll out an implementation plan.”
As per Beau's suggestions, at a high level, you can start to overcome app fatigue by:
1) Understanding your business problems and how you're currently managing them with technology.
2) Evaluating your current technology stack and determining if there are any unresolved issues or inefficiencies based on the business problems you've identified. Assign an owner to audit the capabilities of your technology and ensure you're using all tools to their full extent.
3) Research, test, and implement new technology if you've identified a problem or inefficiency that your current accounting tech stack cannot resolve.
Keep an eye out for Part 2, where Beau joins me once again to walk you through the steps above and discuss how to identify the accounting apps that are worth your time.
Learn how Beyond Bookkeeping (a bookkeeping firm) embraced cloud accounting apps in our free case study!
About the Author
Matt is the Australian Country Manager at Hubdoc. He is a graduate of the University of British Columbia where he majored in History. He’s obsessed with music and sports – he believes it’s a healthy obsession.More Content by Matt Bunston