There are literally thousands of accounting apps that exist today. There are two kinds of applications: web-based apps and mobile apps. Web apps are more powerful, offer more features, and are accessed using an internet browser. Mobile apps offer lighter features than a web app and are accessed using a portal not associated with an online browser. Their main benefit is their ease of use for phones and tablets. Mobile apps are often inexpensive and less powerful than web apps, but still offer value.
While each of them serves a specific purpose, not every single one needs to be used for your clients. How do you decide what’s the best fit in a sea of applications?
The first thing you should think about when selecting an app is what your ideal client base is. Not all industries have the same needs. You should select applications that would most benefit your niche. For example, if you work mostly with construction companies, do some research to see what kind of construction-specific applications might exist.
This also takes into consideration the kind of obstacles your clients face. Some industries might rely heavily on recording travel receipts; MileIQ is a great choice for this client. However, not all industries might benefit equally from using this app. Do some research and trust your instinct.
What are the biggest pain points for your clients? A lot of problems out there already have solutions, so research applications to solve problems your clients have. Finding a new way to solve problems might be difficult in the beginning. Coordinating your team and clients on a new system takes a lot of energy. There is a steep learning curve, but it’s important to stay motivated. Once everyone is on the same page, your practice and clients will save a lot of time. This leaves room for adding more clients to your firm and improving existing relationships.
Customization is one of those things that can make an app either almost perfect or almost useless. To get the most out of the apps you use, they need to be molded into a tool that is right for your firm. This makes the application able to grow as your firm grows, so you don’t have to switch systems when things change internally. However, if an app seems helpful but doesn’t have features that you can use right now, keep up with their blog. Apps are constantly changing, so they might have what you need down the line.
App integration is a big part of customization. Investigate which apps can be integrated into the accounting software you use, and if they can be integrated with other apps. If Integration is done the right way, a lot of the tedious data entry can be automated. This will save you a lot of time and can leave more room for practice expansion and client relations.
Security is extremely important in any profession, but even more so in the Accounting field. Clients trust us with their most sensitive information. Carefully review their terms and conditions and privacy and security policies of applications. Most apps out there boast a high level of security but look at reviews and thoroughly research every application that you don’t already trust.
The best apps aren’t usually free. Many offer a free trial period, which is helpful in the beginning of implementation. Make sure to give your team enough time to test the app thoroughly so you don’t waste the trial period. There are generally price tiers with options to fit your firm’s needs, so choose the best fit for your practice. Products that benefit your practice will often save money in the long run. The right apps will pay for themselves soon enough.
The more specialized your client’s industry is, the more factors will go into the apps that would be good fits for your clients. Take some time every month to do research to new apps that are available and see if you can test drive new ones in their beta stages to see if they’d be a good fit.
Don’t be afraid to try something new! You never know what you’ll find. As the accounting industry becomes more cloud and app based, having the skill to determine useful apps is going to be increasingly vital. So, get out there and find some great new apps!
You can contact Think Leader consulting to help your practice implement new technology here. Let us know what your favorite apps are in the comments below!