The Practice room was launched by ACCA to connect the people that make up the small and medium practice community. The primary aim of Practice room is to share insightful information and experiences with the audience and to offer useful advice. Online 60min sessions are hosted by selected ACCA members who present their own experience, invite experts to share their insights and foster the discussion with other colleagues.
One of these community hosts is Anastasia Chalkidou, the Accounting Director & Co-Founder of Quantum BITS and chair of Greek advisory committee at ACCA.
Anastasia’s first practice room was held on 23 April on the topical issue of the digitalization of SMPs & SMEs. Anastasia was joined by Martin de Bie, an Advisor on Innovation at 216 Accountants who has been working in the field of technology, SMEs and SMPs for almost 30 years. He is the digitalization expert of the Accountancy Europe SME team and chair of the Digital Working Group of the European Federation of Accountants and Auditors for SMEs.
Digitalization is not a simple procedure, and it is not the same for all the countries. It is an ongoing process thus small and medium businesses have to adopt themselves to new digital era.
Anastasia and Martin together with other SMPs joining the discussion from various countries around the world, discussed on a recent survey published by Accountancy Europe and identified the specific steps that must be followed:
- Planning your digital strategy: Planning is the key to success. During this stage we have to identify 3 very important things:
When you take an action
Why you take this action]
How you take this action
There is no doubt, that there are many things you can do with technology. The matter is to take the right decisions at the right timing leading your company to success. Knowing your customers and their needs is key in this process.
- Communication: The sudden outbreak of COVID 19 has changed the way that people communicate with each other. Businesses, even in these unprecedent times, need to find alternative but still effective ways of communication. Both regarding in house communication as well as communication with external stakeholders.
- Training: The change of organizational structure and culture is the first challenge for SMEs and SMPs on their journey to digitalise. This can be achieved with continuous and uninterrupted staff training. Furthermore, the right use of technology and data is very crucial for the business growth. Don’t hesitate to ask support from the IT experts, because the corporation with them is possible to increase the satisfaction that your customers enjoy and lead to customer loyalty. Don’t forget that the appropriate training of staff leads to better time management and eventually sales increase.
- Branding: It’s very important for stakeholders to know the actions that your company takes towards digitalisation as through this communication your firm has many potentials to become a state of mind for your customers. This means, that your customers connect their needs with your brand and stay loyal. So stay in touch with them, share your news and show interest for them.
- Differentiation: Why the customers should choose you? What makes you different from the competition? We live in a world that everyone has easy and fast access to information. So, it’s very easy for the clients to buy products or service from your competitors. If you want loyal clients you have to offer them unique services that provide them with an unforgettable experience. The use of machine learning and artificial intelligence can be time savers from repetitive activities and leave more time for tasks that relate to critical thinking thus can provide SMEs/SMPs with the competitive advantage they need.
- Cyber Security: Α very significant factor for the successful digitalization of your company is cyber security. Your clients want to be sure that their personal data are safe, particularly regarding the sensitive information shared with the accountant.
In conclusion, digitalisation won’t replace people but it will give them more qualifications and opportunities. Don’t be afraid and make the digital step! The things you need is: time, data, intelligence, right strategy and educated staff.
COVID has accelerated the need to set your own digital strategy! So embrace the change and take your practice to the new era!
And DO NOT FORGET, Anastasia’s next practice room on June 4th to discuss about microcredit and its new legal framework in Greece, alongside other financing tools available for SMEs.