By Jody Padar
Once you decide on what cloud software you want to use, here are the ten steps you need to make the transition:
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Step 1: Adopt for your own practice. Choose an online software you’d like to try and input your financials. It’s the easiest move to make, and you’ll learn a lot during the process. You’re the most intimate with your own financials, so start there.
I currently run our financials in three sets of software, Xero, Sage One and QuickBooks Online. Why? Because I want to know what’s happening in all three products – and which one works best for me. I would also suggest playing with Bill.com. It’s how you’re going to learn best how to use it.I always say I’m going to pick the one that gives me the best answer. All three should be the same! What it’s going to do is get you familiar with how the products are working.
Step 2: Identify two to three customers to move first. Choose your friendly customers, the ones you like, the more proactive, open-to-try-new-things customers. I would also move the ones who are new to your firm and set that expectation.
Step 3: Set up, convert and learn. This is a learning process, and you’re going to have to learn how the software works.
Step 4: Establish clear rules of engagement: Define scope, deliverables, and packages. Make sure you understand what you are selling. I would say that this is something that you as a partner need to do first, so that you can then teach your team.
Step 5: Phase in value-based pricing. Start with your regular customers or those you just converted to the cloud. You’ve got to think about how you’re going to bring this in.
Step 6: Embrace the cloud. You have to become a cloud evangelist, so as you start moving customers along, sooner or later they’ll all get there and you’ll become a cloud firm.
Step 7: Leverage practice efficiencies. Figure out how, now that you’ve gone through this, you’re going to make all this more efficient. Even though you’re going for efficient, don’t forget to be effective and document the experience.
Step 8: Identify your ideal customers. Now that you’ve moved everyone to the cloud, you’re going to figure out who you really like and who you really don’t. It might become obvious, and it may just surprise you.
Step 9: Specialize. This process will give you an opportunity to take a fresh look at your practice. You may decide you want to focus on one thing in particular, and if that’s the case, you’ll figure out what niches to grow.
Step 10: Reinvent your marketing. You’ve changed. Your firm has changed. Your old ways of bringing in new business are outdated now.
This is a big undertaking. Breathe! It might take you three years, and that’s OK. You have to know that that’s your plan, those are the steps, and now you just have to figure out all the pieces so you can execute.
When we made the transition to our current tax software, my dad, who’s our senior partner, struggled with some of the processes. The technology was getting in the way for him. So we changed the process, and the younger staff helped him so he could do his work.
Retiring or firing an older partner because he’s not up on the latest technology is ridiculous – there’s so much firm knowledge, experience and technical skill that would be lost. It’s not all or nothing; there’s a lot of gray.
If you’ve gone through the disruption of the transition, you will learn a lot in the process, and you might find that the people who are against it won’t be the right people for your team moving forward. But as long as they possess the right attitude, you can teach the “cloud” skill set. What are you waiting for?