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Brown's Briefing: Pitfalls of the Digital Age

Stuart Brown | 1 October 2019

Technology is changing the face of the finance industry, enabling accountants to concentrate on adding value for their clients and helping them run their businesses more effectively.

However, technology must always be approached with a degree of caution. Several questions must be answered so accountants can make a more informed decision before jumping headlong into a new product.

Does the software do what you want it to, right now?

It is very easy to be taken in by a slick sales rep who tells you everything you want to hear about their latest product.

This isn't to say that working together with a software provider to get what you want isn't central to product development. What is important however, is that expectations are realistic, affordable and well thought through. As with everything else, communication is key, so ask as many questions as you need to ask, read reviews and testimonials and speak to others to find out if their product does what they say, and can be beneficial to your organisation.

Can you use the software?

This may sound obvious, but have the appropriate members of your team had the appropriate training on newly acquired software? At best, you may be paying for a product that you are not fully benefiting from. At worst, a lack of training may result in a breakdown of your accounting systems.

Is the software secure?

With a growing trend for using cloud-based software, a new user should feel confident that it offers the security required. However, do not forget that use of the cloud will not compensate for poor internal security. Human error must be kept to a minimum.

Do you really need it?

If a potential new application doesn't add a real, tangible value to your organisation, it would be worth looking at alternatives. Software can provide a significant advantage to your company, but the cost versus benefit should be fully understood prior to making an investment. This will help you make the best practical decision, and help you assess whether you are in need of new software, or the kind of software you need.

Will the software grow with you?

It's important to understand the development of a product and to understand whether it can be a long-term solution for your business. If you hit your business plan goals, will the chosen solution continue to provide the support you need as you scale up to keep growing and thriving?

Is this the best option?

A product may appear to offer everything that is required, however, there may be something else in the market that can offer more. It is important to carefully research what products are available and to make an informed choice.

Introducing new software into a business of any size is a big step to take. Technology can be a great asset for accountants, but only if it's the best fit for your organisation - and used wisely. So be sure to gain a thorough understanding of the positives and pitfalls of software before you embrace the digital age.

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