How to transition your firm and accountants to tech: Interview with Amplify Advisors

Building a plan to transition your accounting firm, including your clients and entire team, to technology can be difficult. It’s important to take things step-by-step and be comfortable with some trial and error. To ensure that your accountants can implement any new software well, there needs to be a variety of training material available to them.

As part of an interview series we’re running with a range of accounting technologists listed on the Amaka Advisor Directory, we spoke to Jamie Smith, Co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer at Amplify Advisors. She worked in the accounting profession for about two decades before founding Amplify Advisors.

This is number five of five snippets we’ve been releasing over the past few weeks with Jamie, exploring the way her team at Amplify have adopted technology across their practice to maximize efficiencies and convert leads.

Below, you’ll find the recording of the interview snippet, a summary of key points and the full transcript.

Key points on improving lead conversion

  • If you’re looking to transition to accounting technology, you don’t have to do everything at once, you don’t even have to move every single client over
  • Start with the software that you think will make the biggest impact, such as OCR, proposal and reporting software
  • Do a pilot with certain clients who will be more receptive to change and learn
  • A mistake I made is thinking hiring smart people is enough and I learned the hard way that you need to have multiple mediums for training
  • Choosing software with information online, creating your own PDFs and guides with screenshots, and having live training sessions
  • Over communicating and investing into training will get your team excited and make implementation significantly more seamless

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Full interview transcript with Amplify Advisors

Gian Ottavio (Amaka)

Hi, everyone. My name’s Gian Ottavio. I’m the Strategic Partnerships Manager here at Amaka. Today I’m joined by Jamie Smith, the Co-Founder and CEO of Amplify Advisors. Amplify Advisors is a full service accounting practice and also a growth consulting firm based out of Calgary, Canada.

Jamie’s team at Amplify offers a holistic accounting and finance service ranging from Outsourced CFO, CPA recruitment and consulting to technology and business strategy. They cater for small, medium businesses who typically utilize Xero and QuickBooks, as well as more enterprise-size clients who leverage ERP systems such as NetSuite. So, Jamie, thanks for joining us today.

Jamie Smith (Amplify Advisors)

Appreciate the opportunity. Thank you.

Gian Ottavio (Amaka)

All right. So, look, we’re moving to, I guess, the five fireside questions. For the audience listening across the accounting technology space, what tips would you give accountants accounting practices that have been in the game for, you know, ten, 20 years who have started, you know, not cloud based, but transitioning into this more cloud based accounting technology space.

Jamie Smith (Amplify Advisors)

So for those particular people that have been in the game for a while, I would say it’s not an all or nothing game here. You don’t have to do everything at once and you don’t have to have any shame for grandfathering in certain accounts and certain clients and maybe never moving them on to tech. There’s no shame in that.

If you try and bite off your entire firm in one piece, it’s overwhelming. It’s never going to get done. In fact, what you should do is pick the softwares that you think will make the biggest difference. So I spoke about OCR, I spoke about proposal software, I spoke about reporting software, pick those and trial it and treat it like a pilot and see what the feedback is and buy in before you go and make a big launch and a big communication plan and a big change management plan.

Start with a few clients, give it a shot, learn from that experience and then back. Sometimes you’re going to end up using a different software than you originally picked, and that’s okay. And go from there like one piece at a time. If you try to do the entire firm and have everything perfect before you implement, it’s just never going to happen.

Gian Ottavio (Amaka)

Yeah, no. I think you raised a good point as well earlier where the time investment now will compound in benefits later. It’s a long term investment, as you mentioned before

Jamie Smith (Amplify Advisors)

Absolutely. Another thing I’d point out, you know, as an owner of an accounting firm, one of the mistakes I made early on was we pick software that you can Google and get really good YouTube videos and help videos like self-serve right and we still do that. That’s one of the number one criteria on that system selection list that we talked about is that it’s you can Google, you can go on YouTube, everyone can find information really easily.

But I always thought that we hire incredibly smart people. They’re going to want to independently learn and they’re going to take the time to do the effort. And what I discovered is that I was very wrong. And you do need to have multiple mediums when it comes to training your people. So, yes, those YouTubes being available is very important.

Having a PDF that is a user guide with screenshots is very important. Having that having multiple links by various by the software company itself, but also by some of the reviewers is very important. But you also have to have a live training session where you walk through it with them. You need to videotape that like there’s no such thing as over communicating and overtraining.

And while that takes a lot of effort and sometimes it can feel a bit ridiculous because you’re showing you’re showing something live on a Zoom call that they could get a better version on YouTube but that personal touch matters and you do have to go that extra level. Same with our documentation, like the PDF documentation that we have internally is arguably not as good as what you could Google and find online, but the fact that it’s Amplify and that it’s personalized matters to our people.

And so all those extra steps, they do take investment. They certainly take time, but you will get by and much quicker, much, much quicker, and people will actually be excited and take on the software and start putting it on clients much quicker.

Gian Ottavio (Amaka)

Now, look, Jamie, thank you very much for your time today. It was great sharing your insights and, you know, giving the audience an understanding of what a solid cloud accounting practice looks like. Thanks again.

Jamie Smith (Amplify Advisors)

Thank you. Have a great day.

Gian Ottavio (Amaka)


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