top of page

What’s Next? It’s Time to Focus on Accounting Experience Management

Change management is more than what you do. It’s how you do it, and how it is perceived, experienced and measured. Avii calls this Accounting Experience Management.

By Lyle Ball, CEO and Cofounder of Avii

Accounting professionals are the very embodiment of the ironic observation that the only absolutes in life are death and taxes. Now, we are more aware than ever that change is the third absolute. Consider the level of changes to accounting in the last several years: cryptocurrency, new laws and technology, deadline shifts, technology downtime, expectations of clients, PPC, ERC and the forced changes resulting from COVID. These and other changes amount to cataclysmic disruption for individuals and firms that are not embracing and successfully executing change management that results in data-verified optimizations.

Change Management is a given. Embrace it or fall behind.

The sooner we get consensus and support for change management in the most critical parts of our practice, the more effective, profitable and happy we will be.

How we get there is also critical. Experience management is anchored to validating the experience of others. In high-touch, high-value relationships like those in accounting this may start with anecdotal validation but must evolve to data-driven validation in today’s rapidly advancing digital frontier.

Technology is the source of actionable data. But the major accounting software vendors differ in their approach to empowering firms with access to the optimal data that drives change management and uplifts the experiences of the most critical stakeholders. These stakeholder groups include clients, accounting practitioners, and those optimizing the firm’s processes, workflows, technology and profitability.

The winners are firms that analyze and design the best pathway forward, and then expand and improve the quality of data coming from each software system they use. (At some accounting firms this tops 70 disparate software systems.) Key to leveraging this disconnected data is the extent to which firms then interconnect the highest quality and required quantity of data into a unified data source. This new high bar of unified data is then leveraged for live workflow automation, dashboards, and actionable data analysis to drive improvements to policies, approaches and resulting experiences.

Avii coined the phrase “SaaS Hub” in 2019, and with it, sets an example of how SaaS vendors can both provide stand-alone software solutions, and also tie in data from other best-of-breed software solutions using quality APIs. Ultimately, unified data empowers firms with deeper access and leverage of the data resulting from everyday usage by their clients, team members and managers.

It’s time to break up with SALY

The prevalence and pace of the change we are facing has caused many in accounting, including many of the most senior partners, to cling too tightly to the strategy of doing the Same As Last Year (which is jokingly referred to as “SALY”).

The louder the voices of progression may speak, the harder the embodied forces rebuff them.

  • “We can’t make that shift right now – we’re in the middle of a crisis. When (COVID is over, election changes are settled, tax season, etc.) is behind us we’ll take a look at this, but for heaven’s sake we’re not doing it now!”

  • “Where are my CDs for this software? Where are the printouts for everything? If something goes wrong, I need to be able to put my hands on the source technology and documents.”

  • “Software X has been the gold standard for years. Our clients use and expect it. We can’t change now, especially for something that’s new. Let’s let our competitors skin their knees on it first.”

We should celebrate the past and allow it to meld with the new

Even productive breakups are painful. When it comes to accounting there are perhaps some things we can do.

Says Brandon Allfrey, partner in Squire & Company, a leading regional firm: “The worst thing possible is to allow the need for change to fester as a point of dissent among partners. One of the big ways he advises firms to prevent this is to start new technology initiatives with customer-facing areas first. As the uplift to customer experience produces positive feedbacks, the impact is heartening and leads partners to adopt and accept additional change. “

I often make the suggestion to begin automation in pieces, and potentially in just among one service line. Begin by automating any sequence of three or more manual steps in a process that could be streamlined or eliminated with workflow software in place.

As Brandon notes, we need to “break up with SALY” in order to align our teams and partners with changing client needs. We should honor and celebrate the prior technologies, intellect, and processes that have allowed us to accomplish where we are now at. But in order to adapt to today’s pace of change, SALY has to be removed from our vernacular and mindset.

Brandon suggests we could give SALY a retirement party, a roast, or even a celebration of a life well lived. Perhaps even celebrating a union of new joining with old to create something new and better. Whatever you choose, engaging in a symbolic act to celebrate the ending of particular functions allows you to look for the best solutions to help you work better and smarter in helping your staff and your clients.

The journey of change is always going to be with us. The secret to change management is in the transitions in our beliefs and actions as individuals, teams, and firms to allow for the best experiences for cultivating new levels of performance and success. The journey is not always easy. However, finally breaking up with SALY allows you to find new opportunities that you didn’t know you needed.

Entwining Change Management and Software Evolution with the new Paradigm: Accounting Experience Management

Imagine the possibilities when in our work process we make the experience of the work and the results as big or even bigger an objective than the output specifications we achieve.

The principle of Experience Management applies to your customers’ experience. It applies to your practitioners’ experience. Likewise it applies to your own experience, your vendors, your leaders and stakeholders – the theme is universal, and the concepts, throughout, are very much the same. Doing this will lift your success, your satisfaction and your customers’ satisfaction into an entirely new realm. It will lift your efficiency and your profits as well.

In the IT industry, for example, some experts have voiced this priority through a theme of “converting your SLA’s (Service Level Agreements) into “XLA’s” (Experience Level Agreements). In accounting, our output will always be measured by the hard numbers of revenue documented and reported, deadlines achieved, and compliance accomplished. But suppose we meshed these achievements with metrics derived from “obsessive listening and observation” of our clients and staff. What are they experiencing, start to finish, with our policies, approaches, workflows, outputs and communication? How is change management and technology evolution aiding us to evolve from accounting historians to now be trusted advisors driven by live data and automated workflows? Is the increased satisfaction and gratification experienced by both the giver and receiver in all of our exchanges?

We should add these “XLA’s” as companion KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) that we value as strongly as we value the numeric outputs and financial market growth we achieve. The results will be enlightening. Perhaps they will even astonish.

The experience management paradigm is sure to impact the field of accounting in ways in which we will never turn back. Both Avii and Squire are taking strong steps to herald the melding of metrics and experience within the paradigm of experience management. We invite you to join us as we share more about this thinking in the upcoming July 22nd Webinar, “Rising to New Accounting Heights with Experience Management,” and at future Boomer Consulting events. We look forward to seeing you there.

Avii, Avii Workspace, the Avii logo, SaaS Hub, Accounting Experience Management, Audit Experience Management and Tax Experience Management are trademarks or registered trademarks of Avii and may not be used without permission.


bottom of page