An accountant’s guide to managing software change

helping hands rescue gesture clipping path.jpg s1024x1024wisk20cqokhp2F5F kSjpWH2jwVYLo1KtHm4JeGj44i Fbvlt0 | An accountant’s guide to managing software change
By Eva Mrazikova | 16th October 2023 | 7 min read

One thing in life is guaranteed: the relentless pursuit of advancement and evolution.

From horse and carriage to automobile, pen and paper to computers and laptops, landlines to mobile phones, the list is endless.

At IRIS, we’re no strangers to technological evolution – our products march to the beating drum of innovation.

IRIS Elements, as an example, aims to revolutionise the day-to-day of accountants, offering one platform, one experience and one shared client record.

While change is inevitable, understandably, it can cause fear for many – after all, the prospect of modifying what you do after years of pursuing a craft is daunting.

The good news is that you can utilise change management to support these shifts, helping bring people on the journey and ensuring the benefits are truly capitalised.

So, whether you’re an existing IRIS customer moving to IRIS Elements, an accountant considering changing their software or simply someone who wants to better understand how they can manage change in their business, read on.

Navigating change management in your accountancy firm

Introducing a new piece of software into your firm can be a transformative leap forward.

But it often comes with the challenge of overcoming staff fears and hesitancy to adopt new ways of working.

The accountancy sector has maintained a historical reluctance towards most technological transformation, with concepts like cloud software and Making Tax Digital (MTD) still facing resistance.

How will the new software impact my role? What if I can’t use the new software effectively? What does it mean for me? Why are we even changing?

Managing these hesitancies is crucial for ensuring a smooth transition and maximising the benefits of the new technology.

As a starting point, consider the following:

Step one: understand the apprehension

Understanding the source of apprehension is the first step in addressing it.

People often fear the unknown, worry about their competence with the new software and dread disruptions to their daily routines.

To alleviate these concerns, communication is key.

Transparent, consistent and empathetic communication from leadership can create a sense of clarity and purpose.

Clearly articulate the reasons for the change, emphasising the positive impact on both individual roles and overall business objectives.

Encourage open dialogue to address concerns and gather valuable insights – a collaborative approach empowers your team, making them feel valued and more inclined to embrace the change.

Step two: review your processes  

We've always done things this way – a frequent response when introducing change.

Just because something has been done a certain way for a number of years doesn't mean it is the best way.

With new software, you have the opportunity to optimise and streamline processes.

So, look at how you work and ask yourself: is the process still fit for purpose with the new technology? Are there any unnecessary steps? Are you doing things in the most efficient way?

Step three: upskill where necessary

For some changes, the technical competencies required remain unchanged, meaning staff can jump in and go.

However, for larger technological shifts, new skills and ways of working may be required – moving from outdated, admin-heavy ways of working to a modern accountancy solution is quite a change.

As such, providing comprehensive training is essential.

Equip your staff with the skills and knowledge needed to navigate the new software confidently.

This investment not only enhances their abilities but also demonstrates your commitment to supporting their professional development.

Consider incorporating a phased implementation approach, allowing employees to gradually acclimate to the changes, reducing the overwhelming feeling of a sudden shift.

Top tip: software providers such as IRIS offer a wide range of support and resources, so reach out to your supplier.

More content: Cloud integration - the future of accountancy

Read here
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Step four: celebrate the wins

Recognising and acknowledging individual and team accomplishments creates a positive atmosphere and reinforces the benefits of the new software.

Was an employee able to upsell more advisory services to a client thanks to the new software freeing up their time? Did someone manage to reduce the amount of overtime needed to complete their workload? Was a process simply less stressful?

Celebrate all the small victories along the way.

Step five: seek feedback 

Once systems are in place, establish feedback mechanisms to continuously assess the impact of the changes, enabling you to address emerging concerns promptly.

Addressing the emotional aspect of change is equally important.

Change often triggers fear of failure or job insecurity; reassure your team by highlighting the opportunities the new software brings and how it aligns with your strategy.

The move to IRIS Elements isn’t scary!

For those existing IRIS customers who will be moving to IRIS Elements, fear not. 

Here are a few examples of recent customer experiences with Taxfiler + we are continuously reviewing how we can keep our customers informed.

“Moving from Taxfiler to IRIS Elements was a no-brainer for me as it’s modern, cloud-based software that can help me with both simple and more complex needs. The migration went really smoothly and the team at IRIS has been on hand when I’ve needed them. The software is intuitive and logical so there hasn’t been too much change, and I’m really glad I did it. I’m looking forward to adding more modules in the future and having one bit of software to work with.” – Williams & Co. Accountants Ltd.

“The migration from Taxfiler to IRIS Elements was seamless and we are glad we did it sooner rather than later. Well-supported cloud software is important to our business and we have a good partnership with the team at IRIS.” – Affecton.

“When I was told I could move from Taxfiler to IRIS Elements, I thought, why wouldn’t I? Change can be scary but the migration was very easy, the team at IRIS knew what they were doing and for me, there was very little impact. Elements looks great and will certainly do what I need it to. I’d definitely recommend moving to IRIS Elements.” – Claire Charles.

“Moving systems can be quite daunting and my main concern was data, but the whole process has been fantastic and I’m so glad I did it! I did think Taxfiler was a fantastic product, but IRIS Elements is even better – think Taxfiler, but with additional modules such as AML! It will be great to have everything I need in one place, this will be a huge help to me going forward. The team at IRIS has been fantastic and I would highly recommend everyone makes the move onto IRIS Elements.” – Louisa Burton.

Moving to IRIS Elements? Here’s everything you need to know

If you're an existing customer making the move to IRIS Elements? We've got you covered.

We recently spoke with AccountingWeb to answer a range of questions about the move and why it's happening – read the AccountingWeb article here.

Alternatively, Taxfiler customers specifically can find more information on our handy webpage here.

For those new to IRIS and considering IRIS Elements for their practice, see our five favourite features in this recent blog.