You’re an accounting firm showing (or have shown) some progression into the world of cloud accounting and are exploring the world of apps tentatively; however, from what I have seen, most firms are killing their own app advisory opportunity.
But, what do I mean by this?
Well, there are so many firms knee-jerk reacting to clients who ask them about apps or technology to potentially solve a business problem and the scenario goes something like this:
Client: Hey Mr/Mrs accountant, I’ve been looking at this cloud accounting stuff you mentioned and think I could do with something to run my payments or expenses or approvals or credit control or sales or inventory or a till system or online selling or project/job (delete as appropriate) management function of my business. Do you know of anything?
Accountant (panicking but trying to play it cool): Well with 700+ apps in the ecosystem I’m sure there’s something that will fit the bill.
The wrong approach straight away - by doing this the accountant has tried committed to the client without knowing there really is something that can help, just to be able to please them.
The accountant then goes away, searches all the ecosystem directories, Google’s galore, rings up app/tech people in the know to hastily find a system name, then contacts the client.
Accountant: Hey Mr/Mrs client, I’ve done some research and there’s an app which I think you should take a look at - *insert app name.*
Client: ah interesting, do you think it will do function/process/report x,y or z for me? Also what’s the next steps if I want to go ahead?
Accountant (again trying to play it cool but secretly sh*tting themselves that they are getting deeper into something they don’t know how to handle): Potentially... but I will have to re-check. And again that will affect what the next steps are.
At this point, the accountant contacts the most helpful source last time round to ask more questions. If they get a decent response they go back to the client, or if they don’t they go quiet on the matter and hope the client forgets.
So this is how the App Advisory opportunity is being killed by firms - how?
Well, the honest answer is, you can’t always give a great piece of information, suggestion or recommendation to a client based on limited information.
So, if your firm doesn’t have the process/service to find out the business problems your clients have first, then without that deeper information you aren’t in a position to give better recommendations.
You will be giving your clients poor information back based on the limited information received. Very rarely do we see any valued or progressive work for firms working like this. It is usually wasted effort as the client was just curious and not serious.
This world is just as new to the SME world as it is to the accounting profession. Clients will have a poor experience of apps, and wrong recommendations often lead to the accountant getting the blame if it turns out not fit for purpose.
The flip side of this is when the accountant actually gives a really good response that will make a huge difference to the client and solves their business problem. But - you’ve given that away for free and you haven’t made it profitable or repeatable for the firm.
All of these areas can be mitigated with a proper process.
App Advisory is understanding if apps/tech can be a valued solution to business problems. Understanding is the keyword.
To take advantage of App Advisory, you have to first provide a service to find out the client's business problems on a deeper level. This will help with giving better recommendations/options that will actually solve the business problems.
So the reason firms are killing their own App Advisory opportunity is made up of several things:
Back to the original question - Is your firm killing off their own App Advisory Opportunity?
I’m running a webinar covering the App Advisory process Firms should be offering to their clients to ensure they take advantage of this opportunity - register here.
We also have a Facebook group for those firms who are trying to master App Advisory, (we don’t even ask for your email address you just need to confirm you’re an accountant or bookkeeper!)