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Systems Thinking: The Key to Successful Technology Decisions in CPA Firms

Technology decisions can be overwhelming for many Managing Partners and other firm leaders. There are countless software options, each promising to solve your firm's problems and streamline your processes. It's easy to get swept away by shiny new features.

However, changing your mindset around making technology decisions can help you think beyond specific software decisions and focus on how you design the systems within your firm. So let's explore the concept of systems thinking and how it can help you make better technology decisions.

What is systems thinking?

Taking a systems thinking approach to your technology decisions means recognizing that the sum is greater than its parts—all of the pieces of your firm connect, interact and play a role in outcomes.

This holistic approach to problem-solving explores the relationships and interactions between various components of your firm. So instead of making technology decisions in silos, you consider how different software applications interact with each other and your overall business processes. Understanding these relationships allows you to design a cohesive system that addresses your firm's needs and drives maximum efficiency.

How to take a systems thinking approach to technology decisions

Systems thinking can sound complicated, but it's simply about changing your mindset around technology decisions and learning to see things from a 10,000-foot view. Here are some questions to help you get started.

What is the business justification for the technology?

When considering new technologies, firm leaders often focus solely on the software's features without considering the business justification for its implementation.

Before investing in any new technology, it is essential to determine how it will address your firm's pain points and add value to your processes.

Is it simply a shiny new toy you just have to have? That's not a good reason to invest your limited resources—time and money.

When you approach technology decisions from a systems thinking perspective, you first think about the problems you want to solve, then seek out potential solutions—not the other way around.

How does it integrate with your other applications?

Consider how the new technology will integrate with your existing software and workflows. A heavily fragmented system with various stand-alone applications often causes more problems than it solves. By leveraging systems thinking, you can map out the various integrations you need to achieve a cohesive tech stack. This approach minimizes the likelihood of errors and maximizes the efficiency of your processes.

How does it fit your company culture?

Your firm's culture is a vital component of the overall system of processes and software. Culture influences how people behave, the tools they use and how they work together. When considering new technology, think about the level of communication and training it will take to get your team members on board and productive.

Do you have people willing and able to handle communication and training? Will employees be resistant to change? Is the software user-friendly?

By considering the cultural impacts of new technology, you can design a system that is a better fit for your firm, driving success and employee satisfaction.

When you think of technology in your firm as a system of inputs and outputs, you won't be tempted to invest in apps that won't work well for your firm. You'll be better equipped to design a cohesive technology stack that aligns with your business processes and culture, so you can better address pain points, drive efficiency and improve overall workflows.


Do you want to connect with other Managing Partners in the accounting profession to improve performance and grow your firm?

The Boomer Managing Partner Circle is a peer group of Managing Partners from successful and growing firms. Apply now to gain a network of trusted peers to call on as you shape your firm for the future.


Marc Staut, Shareholder and Chief Innovation & Information Officer at Boomer Consulting, Inc., helps meet the growing needs of CPA firms by leveraging his experience to provide strategic technology assessments, planning, visioning and coaching. He feels that “technology should be an enabler – something that’s approachable, aligned with and integral to the success of each firm.” Marc is a regular speaker, author and panelist on technology in the accounting profession, cloud computing, mobile technology, leadership and vision. 


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