Change is an inevitable fact of life, and the workplace is no exception. Organizations of all sizes, including accounting firms, eventually reach turning points in their histories when old ways of conducting business are not as efficient as they once were. New approaches, often involving shifts in technology platforms, are required to keep the business competitive and thriving.
But it can be hard for some employees to transition to unfamiliar ways of doing things. Enter the concept of change management, which employs strategies to help people adjust their internal and external processes during such times of transition.
Let’s explore change management in greater detail and see how it can benefit today’s modern accounting firm.
What is change management?
An effective change management strategy can prepare a finance team for technology shifts and increase the likelihood of a smooth implementation process. This involves:
- Integrating the new process or system
- Setting a solid implementation date
- Training people in the new process or system
- Monitoring performance once the change is enacted
One change management issue many accounting firms face is the migration from on-premises accounting software to cloud software. Change management is essential to helping teams adjust to the move away from the legacy system — and measuring progress following the cloud software’s implementation.
Cloud software comes with numerous benefits, but it’s not uncommon to face reluctance when implementing this change in accounting firms.
That’s why remote and on-site accounting teams alike are turning to Caseware Cloud, a cloud-based platform that improves the on-prem experience and gives the benefits of cloud access.
Whether you’re transitioning to remote work or just looking to optimize office operations, consider the benefits of becoming more cloud-centric to move your team forward.
Cloud vs. on-prem software benefits
On-prem software is accounting software installed on the computers in your office. It typically doesn’t require an internet connection to access, so accountants can work offline. It also keeps sensitive accounting data within your office, completely under your control and away from the uncertainty of the internet.
On the other hand, on-prem software has to be installed on every computer individually and can’t be accessed remotely. It also usually has to be saved manually. If your computers crash, you have no way to access the on-prem work and you may lose some of your work if it wasn’t saved and backed up beforehand.
Cloud software is stored in an online storage base — commonly called the “cloud” — and can be accessed from any device once you have a login. This allows teams to choose between working from home, in the office or in a hybrid fashion.
Using cloud software also ensures that your work is always saved and backed up, even if you have issues with a particular device.
Caseware Cloud offers even more specific benefits, including:
- Stronger client communication in a protected portal
- Better team collaboration where people can work on files simultaneously
- One central location for all of your files with an easy search function
- An intuitive integration method for legacy files
- Automatic syncing to update when you come online after working offline
- Highly-secure encryption of the same level that banks use to keep data protected
- International cloud accounting software that allows you to work from anywhere
Common objections to migrating to cloud software
Due to the difficult nature of change, your change management will always face some resistance, even if the new direction is ultimately a good thing. Team members will have questions and some may have issues that make them hesitant to embrace the change.
Here are a few common barriers to change — and how to overcome them with an effective change management approach.
“We’ve always done it this way”
Many people struggle with letting go of the old way of doing things. Even if it wasn’t perfect, they often become accustomed to the routine of old systems. It can seem easier to maintain the status quo than learn a whole new process or system.
That’s why the top cloud accounting software options will allow you to easily incorporate legacy files, rather than dedicating days to manually transferring them. This reduces the time it takes your team to adjust to the new system.
Look for cloud-based accounting software that offers you a seamless transition so your team can see that the new way is better than the old system.
Change can be expensive
Another fear of change is that it may be more expensive than the old system. While easy integration saves you time-related costs, it’s also important to consider the price. Look for companies like Caseware Cloud that allow you to pay only for what you need.
Rather than charging a high blanket price for accounting firms of every size, Caseware Cloud charges per user license. That means if you have a small accounting team, you only need to buy a few licenses, paying less than large organizations. As your team grows, you can purchase extra licenses. The price is adjustable based on your needs.
Many accountants and executives worry about the security of switching from on-prem software to cloud accounting software. When people hear “the cloud,” they worry that anyone could hack their information. But cloud software actually provides all the peace of mind a leader could ask for, thanks to rigorous info-security standards.
Cloud storage for accounting is encrypted. Caseware specifically uses the same level of encrypted security that banks use to protect their digital files. Encryption turns the plain text of your files into cryptography or “cipher text” that is unreadable to anyone who accesses the files outside the proper channels.
Elements of a successful change management program
It’s important to incorporate change in a way that results in smooth transitions. If new system or process implementations are rushed, you will leave your team confused and burned out — an issue that the accounting industry already knows all too well. Rushing also runs the risk of more errors showing up in your work, which could land you in trouble with clients and regulators.
Here are some elements you need to have in place to ensure a successful change management experience:
- Vision. According to Harvard Professor John Kotter’s Eight-Step Leading Change Model, organizational commitment to change is difficult to uphold without a clear and sensible vision. Identify areas that need to change and how to change them, and share that vision with the team.
- Preparation. Planning ahead for the transition is key. Set a date to implement the change, with enough time to train staff and for the transfer of legacy files and current work to the new system. Create a schedule for training on the new system.
- Communication. It’s important to make sure everyone is on the same page. Hold a meeting to go over the new changes and to allow questions so that everyone is on the same page. Send out an email to sum up those notes afterward so the team can refer back to them.
- Flexibility. To successfully implement change, it’s important to be flexible and open. Not everything will go according to plan, but if you are prepared, have communicated with your team and you stay flexible, you will overcome any bumps in the road.
Caseware Cloud can help detach your office from dependency on old on-prem software and bring you into the 21st century of accounting and audit. Discover the benefits of Caseware Cloud today.