So you’ve decided to join the world of practice management software, but where do you start? We’ve combined our own experience of working with clients with some best practices in change management.
1. Bring your team on the journey
Your practice management software is the centre of your practice. Onboarding clients, managing work as it progresses and organising everything from client details, deadlines and emails – to your daily tasks.
So it makes sense that everyone in your team needs to buy into the idea of A) using practice management software, and B) The software you choose. Here are a couple of change management tips that can help:
Communicate the big picture
Explain in practical terms how practice management software will help your whole organisation at an individual, team and practice level. And use your culture and goals to back you up.
Using cloud software is a step forward, no matter what your business goals. Make that connection for your team. Are you doing it to empower junior staff? To provide an easier experience for your clients? To free up leadership? Then what? How will this drive your vision forward?
Create a team of ‘champions’
Just telling your team to use software that the leadership team has chosen is not the way to go. Make sure you’re solving problems for everyone by bringing together people from across your practice to research and choose the software with you.
Try to make sure every function/team/level is represented. You might even want to target the lowest common denominators – the most change/digitally adverse members of your team. These champions also play an important role in increasing adoption of the software by leading the charge.
You may also want to survey your whole team and your clients with a questionnaire to see where you could improve your processes and service.
2. Work out what you need
Before you get sucked in to exactly what different softwares do and don’t do, put your rose-tinted glasses on and reach for those blue skies (and a pack of post its). What would you love to automate across your practice? What are those time-consuming tasks you want to eradicate?
To make this easier, together with your team of champions, map out your existing processes for one client. Follow the journey from onboarding, through various compliance tasks to invoicing. Where are the bottlenecks? Where are the inefficiencies?
Some questions you might want to ask: How do you store client details? Are client files easy to find? How do you share documents with clients? How do you communicate with clients? How do you track work progress? How do you get client approvals?
You could even estimate the amount of time certain things take. This is an excellent way to see how much time your practice management system is saving you further down the line and assess your return on investment.
3. Ask around
If you know people at other practices, see what software they use and ask them what they think. Reviews are also a great way to get under the skin of a brand and hear directly from their users. Try Capterra – the software review and comparison site – or forums, like the one on AccountingWEB.
4. Take advantage of free trials
Most practice management softwares offer a trial and it’s super-easy to create an account. But before you dive in, make sure you plan how you’re going to use your time – 30 days can go very quickly. You could ask the sales team to help you set some simple goals to use your trial to its full extent.
5. Be systematic
The more measurable your research is, the easier your decision will be. Consider comparison charts, pros and cons lists or consistent ratings criteria.
Using App Advisory Plus’s “App Stack Builder”, you are able to put together your own comparison chart of a few different practice management systems, to see where we sit in the market. We recommend that you and your team create your own based on your priorities.
6. Don’t just look at the software
You don’t buy a house without taking into account its history or the neighbourhood. Because it’s not just the features of the house you’re buying, but the whole experience of living in it. Same goes for any software you use. The trial will show you around the ‘house’, but what are the people behind the software like?
Do a little investigative work to see what the brand stands for. Find out what the support team is like. Check how often they release new features. Check out the company’s social media. Challenge the sales team with questions. Read about the leadership team and the brand’s story. And see what their awards cabinet is like.
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