Are you in your office? Good. Then take this article with you back to your server room. Look around. Then ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do you see any floppy disks?
2. Is there a stack of printouts in the corner?
3. Does it take more than one hand to count the number of practice management applications you have running?
Don’t be embarrassed. Tech anachronisms like these are the mullets of the IT world, but most of us have a few of them lying around. And chances are they’re not part of your zoomy new secure client portal, your mobile-friendly website, or any other client-facing piece of technology. No, the skeletons in your server room are probably related to the ugly stepchild of tax and accounting technology: practice management.
If you’re like a lot of firms, your practice management technology has languished for years in an ugly jumble of disparate systems that has been “good enough” since the early Clinton administration. I feel your pain. But the sad fact is, “good enough” just isn’t good enough anymore.
You can’t afford to have staff entering the same data over and over. You can’t afford to wait overnight for updates to run. You can’t afford to tell clients “I’ll check the printout and get back to you.” You can’t afford to ask your employees “How long do you think that took you?” And you certainly can’t afford their answers.
The good news is, you don’t have to. Not with the new crop of integrated practice management software that integrates thorny components like time and billing, a/r tracking, and management reporting onto one slick platform. Your staff will enter data once and make it available across the entire firm in real time. You’ll be able to see the status of all your projects, who’s working on them, and who isn’t working on much of anything, all on one convenient dashboard. You’ll have the information you need to give your clients the instant answers they demand. And since your new practice management application will be capable of operating in the cloud, it will all be available to you anytime, from any Internet connection, and even on your smartphone.
Like a lot of the recent advances in cloud-based computing and mobile technology, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it. But it’s more than just cool. Instant, anytime-anywhere access to practice management information is an essential survival tool in the lean new reality of tax and accounting. And so are the reduced IT expenses that come with cloud-based software.
There’s never been a better time to exorcise the skeletons from your server room, particularly with the advances being made in integrated practice management technology. “Good enough” just might be costing you more than you think.