You’re probably already aware of some of the benefits that cloud accounting technology can bring to accounting and bookkeeping firms, but perhaps you’re still on the fence as to whether or not it’s worth the time and investment to make the switch.
Or, if you have decided that the change will be worth it, where do you start with this type of transition? What do you need to know before you hit “go”?
The best way to find out answers to these types of questions is to talk to someone who’s been through it. Polay + Clark is a full-service business management and accounting firm specializing in the sports and entertainment industries. In 2015, they made the big decision to transition from desktop accounting software to Xero and bring their practice fully to the cloud.
Leading this transition were Tate Henshaw and Jimi Stout. While the project wasn’t easy, they both agree that it was worth it.
“No matter the benefits associated with the end product, getting from A to B when you’ve been used to A for 10+ years is going to be painful,” says Tate. “There are going to be times when it seems like it’s not worth it, but I assure you that it is.”
Transitioning to the cloud is a learning experience
Even if you’re the most prepared you can possibly be for your firm’s cloud transition, it’s important to note that this shift will also be a learning experience.
Tate, Jimi, and the Polay + Clark team learned a thing or two about cloud accounting and practice management as they made the switch – read on for a few key insights that they observed while transitioning to the cloud.
1. Cloud technology integrations enable greater efficiency
Driven by a desire for increased flexibility, Polay + Clark initially launched their cloud transition by deciding to implement Xero.
During the switch, Tate and Jimi quickly realized that Xero became much more powerful when integrated with third-party add-ons. Although they hadn’t necessarily planned to introduce other cloud tools so early on, integrating Xero add-ons such as Hubdoc, Expensify, and Bill.com helped both Polay + Clark and their clients gain mass efficiencies. For instance, Bill.com enabled them to save hours in their accounts payable workflow.
“After beginning the shift of our accounting to the cloud, it just made sense to start adding some of the other pieces of the ecosystem to gain efficiencies,” says Tate. Like peanut butter and jelly, some apps are just better together!
To view their complete tech stack, check out our partner success story featuring Polay + Clark.
2. Strategic timing is critical to a successful cloud tech rollout
One of the most important things you can do to ensure that your transition to the cloud is successful is to strategically plan your rollout – especially where timing is concerned. It would be nearly impossible for any firm (regardless of their cloud transition resources) to shift every single one of their clients over to a new system at once.
As Polay + Clark learned, however, this rollout can be timed strategically when taking your clients’ schedules into consideration, enabling a more efficient transition. Serving the sports and entertainment industries, Polay + Clark is in a unique situation in that their clients’ schedules often have periods of downtime (e.g., at the end of a music tour). Tate and Jimi intentionally chose these periods as the times in which they’d onboard their clients onto their new cloud tools and processes.
Even if you don’t serve in an industry where “downtime” such as this is available, work with your client to schedule a time dedicated to your cloud tech onboarding process – it will help to improve your client experience (and your life!) as you continue to work together.
“It’s a tough balance because if the client does not have the proper training, it just makes the accountant’s job significantly harder,” advises Tate.
3. Increased flexibility and transparency build better client relationships
It should come as no surprise that increased flexibility (e.g., the ability to access a business’ financials anytime, anywhere) and increased transparency (e.g., putting more data into your clients’ hands) will improve your client experience.
However, having actually experienced the “before and after” of their cloud transition, Tate and Jimi are able to compare just how much their new workflow has improved their relationships with their clients. The Polay + Clark team is able to work remotely and better serve their clients amid their heavy travel schedules. They’re able to communicate easily and their clients can be involved in their financials as much (or as little) as they’d like to be.
Overall, the cloud has enabled Polay + Clark’s workflow to become more streamlined and efficient – and their clients couldn't be happier.
“No longer are there accountant copies, multiple files, etc., nor are we able to hide if we’re behind. It’s all in black and white. I think that accountability and transparency do wonders for the client relationship as far as building trust,” says Tate.
For more insight into how Polay + Clark managed their transition to the cloud, read our partner success story: How Polay + Clark Increased Flexibility and Transparency by Transitioning to the Cloud.
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