Investing in outsourcing and automation

Investing in outsourcing and automation: How crucial is it to bring your staff along with you?
In our recent article we talked about the commercial advantage to be gained by using automation in conjunction with outsourcing. In this article, we examine, how having the wrong people can scupper your firm’s plans to invest in outsourcing and automation.

Your staff having the right mindset is crucial
You will need your people to embrace the change with you. This is easier said than done. Particularly if a large proportion of your staff went into accountancy because they like bookkeeping and preparing accounts, rather than sitting down with clients and advising them on how to solve their business challenges. The net effect can often be internal resistance which handicaps your practice from quickly realising the full benefits of automation and outsourcing.

It’s better to ‘let go’ the people who are ‘not on-board your bus’
If the key decision makers in your firm stick to the vision of using automation and outsourcing, and consistently communicate the vision of what the future holds for the practice, you are likely to find is that the staff who don’t have the right mindset will naturally start to depart. It’s better to let them go rather than have a team of people who are half hearted about what you want to achieve. After all, you don’t want the negative opinions of a few to scupper your plans to implement the firm’s strategy.

If you don’t have the luxury of staff naturally moving on, then it is prudent to take the tough decision to restructure and let staff go, than limp on with the proverbial ‘square pegs’ in ‘round holes’. Your HR advisor will be able to advise you on how to do this in the fairest but most effective way.

Hire for skills and mindset
It’s not uncommon for us to hear about practices who have almost changed all their members of staff as they have transitioned to the cloud. It’s the same when you take the journey into automation and outsourcing. Yes, it’s still important that your staff can do the numbers. However, they need to buy into the vision you have for your practice. They need to be excited by the prospect of spending more time relationship building with clients and being able to truly get stuck into helping your clients with their business challenges. After all, that’s the key benefits of outsourcing in combination with automation, the number crunching and the real grind, no longer needs to be done by your staff. It really does free them up to do the ‘added value’ conversations and service the clients. This means that what you recruit for, i.e. attitude, behaviour and knowledge will need to change.

Be prepared to equip your staff with new skills
Some of your current staff may be exactly the right people you need for the future of your practice. All they need is a little investment in giving them the skills and knowledge they need going forward. It is normally far more cost effective in the long run to help develop your existing staff – as long as they have the right attitude – than it is to hire in new members of staff.

Moving into an advisory type role can be a very scary prospect for your junior members. Particularly, as what they really need is a broad knowledge of how a business works, rather than how to put together a set of accounts. You will need to give them the exposure to gain this commercial acumen.

In summary:
Truly embracing automation in conjunction with outsourcing may mean a radical overhaul of your firm’s structure and the type of people it requires going forward. But, it’s crucial that the firm embraces any short-term pain, as it is more important to have staff who embraces the firm’s vision rather having brilliant accountants who want the new strategy to fail.

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