In our deadline-driven profession, certain times of the year are off-limits for technology changes. Accounting professionals are busy preparing tax returns, performing audits, or helping clients plan for the coming year.
For technology professionals, the top priority during the busy season is keeping the lights on and everyone up and running. However, it’s also a great time for technology planning. Getting a head start on planning allows your department to hit the ground running when the busy season ends. If you wait until a slower time of year to tackle some of these tasks, you won’t be ready to start implementing them right away, and the window of time to tackle these initiatives will only grow narrower.
Here are a few ideas to help you get started.
Celebrate your accomplishments
IT professionals have a natural tendency to focus on project kickoffs and completions. But many technology projects have long execution periods. As a result, it’s easy to get to the end of the year and feel like you haven’t made enough progress or forget about things you accomplished earlier in the year.
Before looking ahead, take some time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished this year and celebrate those wins. These celebrations help keep your team’s morale up, which is vital in times of rapid and seemingly never-ending change.
Take stock of projects in progress
You may have projects in progress heading into the firm’s busy season that you won’t complete before everyone gets busy. Maybe you’re 80% of the way there, and that’s good enough to get you through the next deadline. But make a plan now to finish that last 20%.
Too often, we see a project almost to completion but never quite push it over the finish line — either because we get bogged down with other responsibilities or decide that done is better than perfect. However, I encourage you to prioritize finishing up those last few steps. So often, it’s those final details that make a project or new technology successful and reap the most long-term benefits.
Get feedback from staff and firm leaders
Right after the end of the busy season is an excellent time to gather feedback from staff. If you didn’t do that last spring, take some time during the busy season to create a survey you can send out after the dust has settled.
Ask team members where their technology works well and what they’d like to improve. In many cases, gathering this type of input from the people using the software every day yields quick wins that can delight team members (and have people recognizing the IT team as heroes).
Work on your strategic plan
Technology planning is never a one-and-done proposition. Busy season is a great time to review your strategic plan and IT budget and prioritize your goals during the slower months. Those priorities should support the firm’s overall strategic plan.
You may need insight from service line and firm leaders to establish priorities. Getting time with them in the coming months can be challenging, but it’s a good investment that will maximize your project season if they give you some time.
Talk to your solution providers
Busy season is also a great time to talk to solution providers about what is coming down the pike. Knowing what they have in the works and when to expect major updates can influence your plans and technology decisions for the rest of the year.
In most firms, the busy season seems to get busier and longer, making it tough for IT to make changes that will help propel the firm forward. We might not be able to change that reality now, but we can take time to clean out the closets during the busy season so we can move quickly once it’s over. Doing that now will allow you to make a positive impact in the coming months.
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 role as CIO of a Top 30 firm. Amanda is a recognized expert in the profession who regularly speaks and writes on blockchain and cryptocurrency and their impact on the profession.