Insights from an innovator: “We were asking smart people to do dumb things, because that’s what our systems were asking them to do!”

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Fantastic news for our affiliate accounting practice, O’Connells OBM, where we do most of our road testing; on Friday night they were announced as winners of the Innovator of the Year at the 2017 Australian Accounting Awards.

Accounting has long been regarded as one of the top industries most likely to be made redundant by automated technology – yet it’s an adage O’Connells OBM have embraced, seeing innovation, particularly in technology, as an opportunity to allow for both quality client service, and enhanced team member experience.

We caught up with Adam Dierselhuis, Director of O’Connells OBM, on the night to talk about the wealth of opportunity ahead for accountants that embrace innovation, and how you can start innovating within your own practice.

“It is easy for all of us to fall prey to the “do what you’ve always done” trap when we get busy with compliance work, but the reality is that innovation benefits all of us – our teams, our clients, and our businesses,” Adam said after accepting the award.

“You don’t have to be revolutionary or world changing to be innovative and to create new opportunities. As in our own experience – innovation really is about incremental changes and shifts in the way we work – and it starts with simply asking the question – is there a smarter way?”

We’ve been enjoying working hand in hand with O’Connells OBM to develop a number of innovations to help accountants work smarter, not harder.

The most recent innovation we’ve worked on together is FuseDocs®, a piece of Robotic Process Automation software designed to tap into the existing processes commonly used by professional and financial service firms to do the heavy lifting when it comes to repetitive, low value tasks – everything from letter formatting and report preparation, client checklist and document collation, through to automatically compiling client or internal management reports and statements of advice, even updating databases based on a particular trigger action.

The idea for FuseDocs® came about after we challenged Adam to actually jump on the tools himself and and carry out a client task he hadn’t done in over ten years. The realisation from that exercise, “we were asking smart people to do dumb things, because that’s what our systems were asking them to do,” he admitted on Friday.

But it’s an exercise he suggests we all make time to do, “if you’re wondering where to start innovating – get frustrated!” Adam says. “Take the time to sit with your team, understand what’s really happening in your engine room, what processes and systems are driving your team crazy?” he said.

We couldn’t agree more, because being competitive takes more than a great product or service. It takes a great team to push a company forward. But when our teams are swamped with time-consuming admin processes, how can they be productive and engage in critical tasks like problem solving, client support, and business development?

That’s why we enjoy our partnerships with accounting and financial planning practices, because working hand in hand we can design solutions to simplify everyday business processes all aimed at giving our teams more time for meaningful work.

Creating time to focus on developing new products or services, enhancing customer experience, or experimenting with new approaches to marketing, should be the most important driver for business to invest in innovation.

Of course, FuseDocs® is just one of our recent innovations that address some of the key pains ourselves and others in the industry are facing, but the truth is we’ve only just scratched the surface of what’s happening in our firms.

Our firms are full of unrealised and hidden efficiencies and improvements that can make us better, faster, smarter so that we can focus on what really matters – building meaningful relationships with our clients and having the time and space to help them innovate within their own businesses.

When you’re ready to turbo charge your practice’s productivity and start innovating new ways of working smarter, register for a FuseDocs demo, book a complimentary consultation, or download our Accounting technology white paper – “7 Must-Have Productivity Tools for Your Accounting Practice”.

Director of Smarter Business Processes Scott Barber (left) with Relationship Manager Melissa Voss, and Director of O’Connells OBM Adam Dierselhuis

We had a fabulous night celebrating with our partners and clients!

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