Being agile is all about responding quickly to changes and finding ways to operate more efficiently. The ultimate test for agility in recent years is the COVID-19 pandemic. To survive it, accounting firms had to adopt new technologies, procedures, and service offerings almost overnight. 

These days, being agile is almost a requirement for your accounting firm to succeed in the future. That’s why this guide will show you how to become more agile as an accountant. We’ll examine the following topics:

  • How being agile benefits your firm
  • How to become more agile in your work
  • Areas of agility in accounting firms
  • How Countingup helps accountants with agility

How being agile benefits your firm

Becoming more agile will have several advantages for your accounting firm, including:

  • More effective change management: Agile companies have an easier time adapting seamlessly to market changes.
  • Improved service quality: The agile business model focuses on driving value for the business and the client.
  • High performance and self-sufficiency: You’ll get to ‘own’ your work and collaborate more effectively with others towards a common goal. 
  • Quicker decision-making processes: Agile operating models are known for rapid learning and decision-making cycles
  • Happier clients: Having efficient internal processes and offering high-quality services helps you ensure customer satisfaction. 

How to become more agile in your work

Now that you know the benefits this operating model brings accounting firms, let’s take a look at how you and your firm can become more agile.

Define your goal

Agile accounting firms are value-based and outcome-driven, so the first step is to define what your goal is with adopting this model. How do you see the future unfold if the plan goes well? 

Here are some broad examples of agile goals:

  • Achieve greater efficiency in auditing tasks
  • Become a client-centric firm
  • Become cloud-based
  • Deliver a wider range of services

Run sprints

Sprints are the backbone of agile approaches, whereas conventional accounting methods are more akin to running a marathon dotted with unforeseen obstacles. Working in sprints means you tackle large projects by breaking them down into smaller, more manageable tasks. 

Typically, sprints last between one and three weeks. After completing each one, you set aside time to evaluate the sprint’s success and impact. Doing this gives you the chance to implement changes in the next sprint to increase efficiency and ensure continued success. 

Embed agility in the culture

If you work at a firm with other people, it’s not enough for just you to be agile. The only way to create an agile firm is to embed agility in the company culture. Being truly agile means putting people at the heart of the business by empowering and engaging everyone to create value collaboratively. 

The best way to create this kind of culture is to split into smaller teams. That way, you and your colleagues can maintain a stable structure while replacing the traditional hierarchy with a flexible and scalable team network. 

Leverage next-generation technology

Modern technology is key to creating an agile firm since you need systems that quickly respond to changes. Leveraging next-generation technology like cloud hosting helps accounting firms keep their business structure agile. 

This type of tech has become especially crucial since the pandemic forced us to work from home. Cloud hosting and accounting software allow you to access critical client data from any location at any time. 

If you work with clients who run their businesses by themselves, you can encourage them to use Countingup’s accounting software. This way, your client gets a two-in-one business account and accounting software to manage their financial activities in one app. They can then share their financial data with you instantly by simply emailing you an invite. 

Areas of agility in accounting firms

We’ve explained how to become more agile as an accounting firm, but there are also a few different ways you can do so.

Technological agility

Technologically agile companies are quick to adopt new technologies and solutions to operate more efficiently. When the pandemic forced people to work from home, these firms would have been one step ahead. 

Accounting firms already working on the cloud or using a hybrid model are more prepared to deal with curveballs and challenging situations. In other words, technological agility empowers you to manage problems of the future with the right experience and digital tools. 

Service agility

At present, technological advances are the main drivers behind service agility in the accounting profession. With software taking over the number-crunching, accountants often have to double as business advisers to be more helpful to their clients. 

Evolving client needs will also significantly increase the need for more agile approaches in the future. So service agility is all about continuously asking yourself what clients need from you and how you can adapt to stay competitive.

Leadership agility

Leadership is one of the main drivers and barriers to successful agile transformations. In other words, a firm with business leaders who are stuck in their ways will struggle to adopt agile working. 

According to McKinsey, leaders must evolve new personal mindsets and behaviours by shifting from reactive to creative thinking. In addition, they have to use their influence to transform their teams to work in new ways, focusing on clients’ evolving needs and how to meet them. Finally, business leaders must ensure the entire firm can embed agility into its culture. 

Become more agile with unique accounting software

One key part of agility is to leverage modern technology that enables you to operate more efficiently. You can save your practice time on manual admin and help your clients keep organised records with Countingup’s free accounting software. It’s built specifically to help you manage your self-employed and sole trader clients.

The app automates time-consuming bookkeeping admin for your clients so they can focus on running their business. Once clients invite you to their Countingup account, you can access their financial data whenever you need it. It’s simple, seamless, and secure!

Countingup’s accounting software is MTD-compatible and full of features for you to efficiently review and manage client accounts with direct access to their real-time organised data. Find out more here.

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