But there are examples of firms looking to use technology as the key tool in
enabling them to drive differentiation from other practices and help grow
revenues in their specific niche – which most practitioners believe is the model
the profession will move towards at the smaller end of the scale.
The key to IT for practices is similar to that for big business – data
integration, getting sales and marketing systems working alongside key business
information. Practices also need real-time access to client data.
There are ways and means of achieving this. Sage and Iris are expanding their
range of products. The former is attempting to build its suite of software up
from the bottom, so it all works together – an issue that has been a bone of
contention for practitioners for a long while.
Another option for advisers is to examine what’s on offer from Twinfield and
Netsuite, which are based upon ‘on demand’ technology. No hardware procurement
required, no big license fees or complex setups – it’s all run through the
Andrew Norton, managing partner at The Norton Practice, has chosen the on
demand option to enable his firm, which concentrates on helping US companies
establish themselves in Europe, push more focused marketing campaigns, based on
having greater access to client data.
‘We’re growing fast, need our functions tied together. Basic work in progress
software doesn’t give us everything we need,’ Norton says.
Norton’s firm is not alone. Those looking to stay ahead of the game and move
on from dinosaur practices will be exactly the type of firm to use IT to help
them go forward.
Kevin Reed is technology correspondent for Accountancy Age
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