Accounting firms are accustomed to running pretty lean with their technology. When you hire a new employee or something breaks, it’s normally no problem to have a shiny new piece of equipment in your hands within a day or two.
Today, it’s more difficult (and often more expensive) for firms to get the hardware they need, even as more companies recover from the pandemic. Unfortunately, these challenges don’t seem to be going away, so let’s look at what is contributing to these supply shortages and how your firm can be more strategic about preparing for your technology needs now.
Behind the supply chain shortages
The supply chain is everything that needs to happen, in a very specific sequence, to turn raw materials into a finished product. Take the phone in your pocket. The supply chain means mining the aluminum, fabricating silicon chips, transporting all of the materials necessary to assemble it to the different factories where they’re assembled and combined. It involves workers, warehouses, container ships and a complex choreography in which any one step can go bad and derail the entire process. The pandemic derailed that process in early 2020, and the world has been struggling to keep up ever since.
Prior to the pandemic, most supply chain disruptions were regional. For example, a hurricane might take down production in three or four states for a few weeks or months. But the pandemic impacted every country and every supply chain in the world.
Couple that disruption with increased demand for many products (construction materials, plexiglass, cleaning products, paper goods, home office technology, etc.), the Suez Canal shortage, labor shortages, and Amazon delisting several major electronics sellers, and it’s easy to see why every link in the supply chain is kinked.
Power management chips
Consumer LCD screens
Chip packaging services
Preparing for shortages in your firm
The best offense is a good defense, even when preparing for supply chain disruptions in your firm. Here are a few steps to implement now.
Have a backup plan
It’s always a good idea to have a backup plan, especially regarding technology in your firm. When creating an emergency plan, think about the different ways you can resource hardware and other equipment in your firm.
If your current supplier can’t provide the hardware you need, what other suppliers can you turn to? Start building those relationships now so they can step in when you need them. If you can’t get the brand or model you want is on backorder, what other device is available that can enable your team to be productive in the short term?
Consider setting aside an emergency budget you can tap in the event of disruptions.
Build up your tech inventory
Start stockpiling essential equipment: laptops, monitors, scanners, routers and other peripheral devices. Many firms typically wait until November to order technology components for the coming busy season, and that just won’t work this year. Start thinking about what you will need in the next year and order it now.
Ordering products before they’re urgently needed will allow you to get the technology you need without having to compromise or trouble-shoot around a long-term delay.
Optimize your existing processes
Streamlining your existing processes and leveraging automation wherever possible will allow you to do more with less.
Communicate with your clients
Your clients are likely dealing with supply chain issues as well. Whatever you do to prepare for and navigate shortages in your firm can be good advice for your clients. Recommend that they implement emergency plans, set aside an emergency budget, stock up on tech inventory, streamline processes and identify backup suppliers.
When our supply chains are operating without disruption, it’s easy to take them for granted. However, but we’ll all feel the impact in the next several months. That’s why we need to be proactive, flexible and strategic about coming up with a technology plan that meets the firm’s needs moving forward.
Want to learn more about the Boomer Technology Circles?
Boomer Technology Circles can help break down the walls between firm and IT leaders and bring clarity and strategy to your firm’s technology. Complete an interest form today and one of our Solutions Advisors will reach out to schedule a short call to discuss your needs.
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.