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How Information Management Can Help Accounting Firms Navigate Disruption

In the past decade, it’s no secret that the accounting industry has transformed significantly. Increased competition and changing market demands are forcing firms to change the way they operate and serve customers.

To stay competitive and meet new and evolving customer demands, firms must perform a balancing act of (1) offering services that are low in cost, yet high in value, and (2) maintaining profitability.

What this all boils down to is a striking need to do more with less.

So, the question is: How can firms do this? How can firms do more with less to stay agile and competitive?

It all starts with information

At the base of nearly ever operation in accounting, there’s information. And just to be clear, by “information”, I am talking about your documents, files, images, videos, PowerPoint slide decks, Excel spreadsheets. I am talking about all the content your staff produces, as well as all the sensitive information you receive from your customers. I am also talking about the data that exists in your CRM or your practice management system. Overall, information is the foundation of an accounting firm and how this information is managed can have a signification impact on operations.

When information is scattered in different systems with no control or visibility over who is doing what and when, it causes obstacles and roadblocks in operations. Staff simply can’t find and make sense out of the information they need to do their job or serve the customer best. Finding and making sense of information becomes an arduous task.

Where is that customer contract?

Who should I send this contact to for approval? Did they sign it already?

Is this the most recent version of their financial statement?

Information management as the virtual file clerk

We call this information chaos and it distracts staff away from their core work. What information management does is it gives visibility, access, and control over information. Think of it like this: Before computers, we used to have a file room and a file clerk. The clerk knew where everything was and what it related to. They had their own systems for organizing and making sense of everything that’s in there. With network drives and folders, we brought the file room into a digital space, but we left out the clerk. So, it’s up to staff to go into those digital spaces and try to do their best despite having no visibility, control, or understanding of what’s happening with that information. This is time-consuming, distracting, and it can certainly weigh on operations.

In a manner of speaking, an information management system brings back the “clerk”, so that staff can instantly access the information they need, when they need it. This enables workers to focus on their core tasks, without the lag and drag of information chaos.

When documents and information are managed efficiently and processes are automated, it not only reduces operational waste, but it enables staff to do more with their time, which means that organizations overall can do more with less. This results in better customer service and enhanced operational efficiency across the entire organization.

To see how M-Files is helping accounting firms build a more efficient, future-proof operation, click here.