2022 - The outlook is bright

December 8th, 2021 by Dave New 5 minutes read

Sitting back and reflecting on the year that was, there’s no escaping the fact it’s been quite the rollercoaster ride down under.

Heading in-and-out of lockdown and working from home have fast become the new normal. ‘Business as usual’ looks nothing like it has before. Just think how many times we’ve uttered the words ’You’re still on mute!’ in the last year.

For most of the last year, the accounting world has been significantly impacted by the constant disruptions and endless pivots—dare I use the term—having been buried knee deep in sorting out business grant eligibility and applications for clients in need. Hasn’t the term ‘trusted advisor’ evolved?

Despite all the challenges, it hasn’t been all bad. During this time, at Practice Ignition, we’ve witnessed significant improvements in team communication and collaboration, work flexibility, work-life balance, and overall job satisfaction levels across the board.

I’m hearing similar stories directly from our customers, who are accountants and bookkeepers in the main. With the growing demand for flexible working conditions, we’ve seen a significant migration to cloud practice tools, namely Xero Practice Manager, from legacy based desktop practice management systems. Having successfully adopted cloud-based technology, they’re saying staff productivity has gone through the roof. That doesn’t mean they’re working longer hours either, just working far more efficiently and effectively. With the solutions in Xero’s “Next-Gen Practice”, visibility over their practice efficiency has never been better.

In an increasingly competitive employment market, there’s been some significant upside too. As a direct result of accepting flexible office arrangements, and working from home policies, being able to cast the recruitment net far further than ever before has opened up doors to a much greater talent pool. Location has fast become of little relevance when seeking the best person for a role.

As a leader at Practice Ignition (and one of the older brigade at that), I’ve had to change my ways too. Trust is the new must. Gone are the days of water cooler chats and being able to listen in on your Sales team to ensure they are pitching the product just right. With increased trust comes autonomy, empowerment, and innovative ways of doing your role even better than before. I can honestly say I’ve been the fortunate benefactor of a team that’s matured in droves over the last year on the back of their newfound freedom.

So what does the crystal ball say it has in store for us next year? More of the same?

Who knows exactly, but it'll be a much braver man than me, that'll tell you that life is going to return to 'normal'!

What’s our new ‘normal’ going to look like then? For starters it’s much more of a hybrid working model, that’s for certain. We’ve given our team 3 choices for 2022, they can choose to continue to work mainly from home, to work from the office full time, or they can choose ‘flexi working’, splitting their week between office and home, which unsurprisingly has appealed to almost our entire team. Myself included!

From the accountants I talk to, it’s no different in their world. Office space is now at a premium and downsizing is inevitable for many, with the need for far less space and unnecessary overhead. With the shift to remote workers, there’s a change in the skills that are now increasingly valued-led by communication, self-motivation, responsibility, teamwork and problem-solving. These are the skills that will help meet client expectations in 2022.

Of course, there’s also technology, and the undeniable efficiencies and productivity gains to be had by automating what are otherwise manual and time-consuming tasks. Combined with the demand for facilitating remote communication, these changes have led to real transformation. That’s at least one positive to come out of Covid and the havoc it wreaked over the last two years - the acceleration of communication and collaboration tools like Zoom, Teams, Hangouts and Slack. In fact, I’m not sure how we would have ever survived without them.

Fortunately, sometimes out of difficult situations come unexpected positives. We’ve been fortunate at Practice Ignition, with the increased demand for remote client engagement and payment collection being welcomed by our customers and their clients. We’ve seen massive take up of digitally signed client engagement letters and automated payment collection for the business critical work carried out by accountants and bookkeepers this year (2021 Year in Review). This is a trend we only see continuing in 2022.

Just last month I had a beaming accountant say to me “WE LOVE PRACTICE IGNITION”. He went on to say “Prior to getting Practice Ignition, we spent over three days collecting on our accounts receivables. Now we might spend 1-2 hours a month at most…the client engagement letters look fantastic, and many of our clients have told us how impressed they were by how professional they looked.” In an increasingly digital world, making a good first impression is all the more complex and has never been more essential.

So the future looks bright, 2022 promises to be a year of much needed freedoms and in-person connections. With a more digital mindset after 2021, accountants and bookkeepers are set for a strong start to the year.

If we can help you make a great first impression, keep your debtors under control, and get 2022 off to a flying start, reach out to our team. We’d love to hear from you.

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