How to Hire a Technology Operations Leader

August 31, 2016 Yoseph West

If software is the foundation of your practice, you need a technology operations leader. Someone responsible for finding and introducing new tech into your practice. They will be tasked with optimizing your workflow from client docs to financial statements. They are the point person for integrating new tech and optimizing existing tech to create efficiencies.

They will be the keeper of the software flame. But they also need accounting or bookkeeping experience. They need to understand the workflow and end product your clients require. And bridging those worlds is hard to unless you have experience delivering a set of client books.

It’s a hybrid role. And that makes hiring tricky. Here’s what great practitioners do to make sure they get this pivotal hire right.

Defining the technology operations leader role

The first step in hiring a technology operations leader is to clearly define the role. Whether you hire externally or develop internally, you need a good role description. 

Responsibilities

Every practice is different. Consider your vision for your firm’s future. What do you hope to achieve in the next two years? How does technology influence those goals? What expectations would you have for your technology operations leader?

Common examples of responsibilities include:

  • Accountable for each stage of the workflow adoption curve
  • Identify efficiency opportunities
  • Identify potential solutions
  • Conduct trials and the initial product test
  • Integrate new software into your tech stack to enhance workflow.
  • Roll out tech to all clients
  • Train and support staff and clients to achieve mastery

Experience

Consider what experience will be necessary to fulfill the responsibilities you have defined. Does your leader need specific experience relevant to your specialties (tax, etc.) or niche? What tech, accounting or bookkeeping education do they require? How much accounting work experience do they require? What software integration experience would be necessary?

Skills

Consider what specific skills would be necessary to make your vision a reality. What knowledge or attributes would a successful leader have? Things like:

  • Knowledge of your accounting platform
  • Ability to create quality bookkeeping product
  • Ability to leverage software sales teams to make the tech stack work
  • Knowledge of APIs (How data is passed between two pieces of software)
  • Project management skills to manage new tech adoption and client onboarding cycles
  • Ability to diagnose workflow efficiencies
  • Strong communication skills
  • Goal driven

The tech ops leader hiring challenge

The hybrid role is relatively new. I’ve spoken to many practitioners who tried to hire externally. Often they struggle to find the right person. Many candidates are software experts but lack accounting experience. Or vice versa.

There’s two potential solutions to this.

Internal

In many cases great practitioners have more success looking inwards. They evaluate internal candidates against the job description. They ask, would one of our more tech-savvy bookkeepers be suited to the leader role? Do you already have someone who knows the workflow inside and out? And who has a strong interest in technology? Is there somebody you could develop through training to master the tech piece?

External

If you don’t have a suitable internal candidate then look outside the firm. Are there tech-focused advisory firms that you respect? That might be a good source for finding people who could grow into a technology operations leader, if they're already looking for a change.

Work your network. Is there anyone who could make an introduction to a potential leader?

Take the best candidates from the interview process and put them through team interviews. Make your staff part of the process of finding the leader who will thrive in your firm.

Your final choice should be the candidate everyone agrees will be able to make your vision a reality. 

Wrap Up

The technology operations leader is crucial to the transformation and scaling of your firm. First get the role description right. Tailor it to your vision for your firm’s future. Define the responsibilities they will be tasked with. Identify the experience and skills necessary to achieve your goals. Then evaluate your in-house talent against the role. And if you have to hire externally, work your network. Have a good hiring process to ensure you land the right candidate. Take the time to get the tech ops leader hire right. It will power the growth of your business for years. 

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