3 Questions to Determine Whether Your Firm Needs Technology Consulting
Earlier this month, our own Jon Hubbard discussed the top three things firms ask about when selecting a Technology Consultant in his Boomer Bulletin article, Three Ways To Increase Clarity & Confidence in Your Firm’s Technology Strategy. Firms want their Technology Consultant to be experienced, trusted and unbiased when it comes to technology providers and the profession in general. Reading Jon’s article, I started to think of recent conversations I’ve had with firms who knew the kind of skilled, connected and experienced consultant they were looking for, but weren’t quite sure what to expect from their technology consulting engagement.
At times, I’ll get on a call with a firm that has one question – one purpose for considering a technology consulting engagement. Perhaps they want advice on which new practice management solutions to explore. Or they may ask if they’ve outgrown a specific application. Are they getting their money’s worth from their current managed service provider? I hear that one often as well. Changing a single application often results in a ripple effect throughout many departments and processes within the firm.
Other times, I’ll speak with a firm who isn’t sure where to start. IT seems to be a black hole of projects. Technology seems to be working but they’re not sure where the value is being added. Or they’ve grown quickly and technology that used to work just fine doesn’t seem to do the trick anymore. These firms know they need help from somewhere, but don’t have a clear vision of what that looks like.
If it becomes clear we’re not a good fit for your current needs, we’ll definitely let you know that and become an advocate for finding the best solution for your firm. This commitment holds true throughout the engagement. In the rare instance we find an area that we do not have expertise in, we will assist in connecting you to resources in the profession who can best move your firm forward. If the firm is a good match for our team, we start discussing the insights you will gain from our Technology Review process.
Where should you focus your IT efforts?
Do you wonder if your firm is spending its technology resources focused on the right things? With your firm’s overall strategic plan in mind, we assist you in taking a holistic view of your technology initiatives. We build synergy between the firm’s overall business strategy while tying in a supportive technology strategy. We map out project dependencies prioritizing the IT projects that ensure short-term and long-term success. Staff focus groups identify opportunities to make an impact on productivity as well as foster innovation at all levels. Our Technology Review puts your firm on a path toward using technology as a competitive advantage.
Are you keeping up with the profession?
We understand how important industry perspective and experience is to our technology consulting clients. Working in firms from the Top 50 to the Top 10, I’ve seen the unique technology challenges firms face when trying to grow, trying to catch up from growth or simply trying to stay ahead of ever changing technology in the profession. We pull insights from all the Boomer Communities, such as the Technology Circles, the CIO Circles, the Managing Partner Circle, and the Lean Circle, to provide you a wide breadth of knowledge from the profession. We leverage relationships with firms and technology solution providers to provide the lessons learned that will help you avoid common pitfalls in your technology roadmap.
Do you have the right IT governance framework?
IT governance cannot be left to IT alone or, worse, left to an outsourced managed service provider. Our Technology Review engagement includes an IT budget review to ensure your firm’s technology dollars are spent appropriately. We provide strategies to address any skills gaps your team may have. We assess the effectiveness of your IT steering committee structure and objectives. We also assist you in developing effective feedback loops to incorporate the staff’s user experience in technology decisions. This IT governance evaluation aligns firm leadership with IT leadership in building a technology plan, and buy-in of that plan, to support the firm’s strategic plan.
An additional item I often discuss with firms is the timing of their Technology Review. This point isn’t an expectation of the engagement itself but it’s important to understand why I always recommend we get started sooner rather than later. Understandably, most firms put a hold on all IT initiatives during tax season. Some even put technology on hold during August through October, reducing IT’s project season even further. Inevitably, our Technology Review identifies some relatively quick simple changes that result in a positive impact. These are quick wins for IT and the firm that can be squeezed in between October 15th and January 1st. However, larger longer projects require proper planning and budgeting to ensure success. Tax season is the ideal IT project planning season maximizing the time your firm has to implement new technology by preparing IT project kickoffs as soon as the dust settles from April 15th.
If your firm does not list technology among its completive advantages over other firms. If you’re not confident your firm’s technology is aligned with and supports your Firm’s strategic plan. If you’re looking at changing one or two applications but aren’t sure how they will impact the firm as a whole. If you’re not sure what your firm’s technology priorities are; or you’re not sure how those priorities equate to the firm’s success, then reach out to our Boomer Solutions Advisors and set up a time to discuss the benefits of Technology Review in more detail.
Amanda Wilkie, Consultant at Boomer Consulting, Inc., has a computer science background, but she’s not your average geek. With two decades of technology experience, Amanda has spent 13 years driving change and process improvement through innovative technology solutions working across firms of varying sizes in the public accounting profession. She has held strategic leadership positions in firms ranging from Top 50 to Top 10 including her most recent