*This blog is part of the April 2023 Thought Leader newsletter
Out with old, in with the new? Not so fast.
Author Scott Adams said, “Normal people believe that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain’t broke, it doesn’t have enough features yet.”
This got me thinking. Why does the accounting industry still want to fix what “ain’t broke?” The answer: we all want the perfect software that does absolutely everything.
But once we’ve bought what we hope is that software, frustrations kick in with constant server errors, or missing features…and we soon regret making the change. And this doesn’t just happen with software. This is why so many of us end up in a constant cycle of wanting the next best thing—also known as “shiny object syndrome.”
Is it time for a change?
It’s important to know that selecting the next best thing should not be an impulsive decision. You need to put a lot of thought into decisions that affect so many areas of your firm. After all, your processes will change, your staff may be frustrated by having to learn something new (especially after a grueling tax season) and there will be a major time commitment for implementation.
Still, the end of tax season is the perfect time to evaluate your tech stack and decide if you really need to make changes. To help you start your evaluation process and think through whether the changes that follow new implementation are necessary, we have a few tips below. The most important tip? Remember to always think with the end result in mind.
Tips for evaluating your tech stack
- Start small with one piece of your technology stack. Write down the following:
- The software’s purpose.
- How often it’s used.
- Who uses it, what those users like about the software and what pain points they’ve experienced. Having conversations with staff is a great way to gather this information.
- Note whether this piece of technology: a) works perfectly well and doesn’t need to be replaced; b) offers an opportunity for improvement; or c) should definitely be replaced.
If you’ve decided the software doesn’t need to be replaced:
It’s business as usual, with one change. Designate a staff member to serve as the champion for the software. This way, you have someone who can keep an eye out for improvement opportunities over time.
If you’ve decided there’s an opportunity for improvement with the current software:
First, identify exactly where it can be improved upon. Is this a training opportunity for staff because they don’t know how to use the technology? Are you using the software where it makes the most sense for your firm?
- As in the previous step, choose a staff member to be the champion of this software.
- Then, let that person take the lead to figure out the problem. They can also communicate the solutions to the rest of the team.
If you’ve decided to replace the software:
- First, focus on the pain points. In order to replace this software with one that will solve them, which key features will you need or want in something new?
- Next, it’s time to research. Start with other software you’re using. Is there an opportunity to replace the not-so-good with what you already have? If that isn’t the case, contact vendors and begin the demonstration process.
- Appoint a staff member to serve as champion for the new technology so they can identify opportunities for staff to maintain and increase their knowledge.
- For Rootworks members with coaching, this is also a great time to schedule a training coaching call.
Repeat this process for every piece of software in your tech stack.
Summing it all up
Now, circle back to that quote by Scott Adams. As an accountant, you’ll most likely be coming out of this tax season with software companies trying to sell you on their product. Or, you may have talked with a salesperson last year and determined it wasn’t the right fit, but since then an engineer has added even more features to impress you. While it might seem like the perfect fit for your firm now, don’t be blinded by the shiny object. Go back to the steps above, and always consider how implementing something new may have a greater impact on your firm.
If you’re a Rootworks member with coaching, remember that you never have to go through this process alone. Coaches and trainers on the team are here to help guide you and answer any questions. If this becomes a top priority for your firm after tax season, be sure to schedule a coaching call—because we all know it’s better to get it done sooner rather than later.