Today, managing data at scale has become a strategic issue for accounting firms, large and small. Firms have to deal with an increasing number of information flows of all natures that must be processed efficiently to make the right decision at the right time. What are the strategies that can be adopted to optimize these information flows?

Information flows are crucial to your organization. They’re the nervous system of your company and ensure the link between the different departments, branches, and regional offices as well as with your client base.

As larger firms face the challenge of decentralizing their activities, information management becomes essential. In fact, how can you ensure a consistent level of service is delivered by the parent company and the different entities? How do you keep business practices, corporate culture or customer relationships homogeneous and in sync?

To answer these questions, you need to optimize your information flows. This optimization process will be conducted along the following 4 axes of inquiry:

  1. Centralization: Information in one place
  2. Standardization: information in one easy to process format
  3. Digitization: Information available digitally
  4. Stakeholder Integration: Information sent to and from each relevant stakeholder

The goal is for each flow of information to deliver the right information to the right person at the right time and in the right form.

Centralization: Information in One Place

Decentralization has several consequences on management such as decision-making, achieving consensus and employee performance, which is why companies must adopt best practices as soon as possible. In the article The effects of top management team integrating complexity and decentralized decision making on corporate social performance, we learn more about the essential role managers play in developing effective decentralization strategies.

“It is important to consider how top management teams affect corporate social performance because these teams guide the firms’ strategic decision-making process for corporate social performance initiatives”

If we take a look at larger firms, they tend to rely more and more on regional offices to carry out certain activities. As a consequence, fluidity in the flow of information becomes problematic and impacts the overall efficiency of the business. Firms then face a trade-off between centralizing their practice at a global scale and developing personalizing client relationships at a local scale.

Firms can overcome that trade-off by centralizing their data, thereby making it accessible in real time, and constantly up to date for every employee.

Standardisation: Information in One Easy to Process Format

When it comes to global entities with a parent company and several regional offices, document management and the centralization of data become problematic and the integration of a global document management solution becomes necessary.

These firms should be benefiting from the latest technological advancements and digitize their management processes.

Here are some of the benefits in implementing a document management solution:

  • Reduce costs of physical data storage space
  • Access and share documents anytime, anywhere
  • Gain global visibility on your mandates

Therefore adopting a document management system will centralize all the information and facilitate communication between your teams and most importantly your clients.

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Digitisation: Digital Integration of Information to Optimise The Speed of Propagation

Nowadays, managing an accounting firm requires a practice management solution that will streamline and automate your processes and therefore speed up and improve how information flows within your firm. 

According to EY’s article Digitalization of accounting and administrative processes: the making of the paperless office:

“Digitization is the transitioning of your accounting and reporting documents and storage from a traditional paper-based system to an electronic format. Because it reduces process time and errors, aids cash flow and improves transparency on income, digitalization helps business leaders make better decisions about how to lift business performance. It can also make an organization more competitive.”

Moreover, according to Kathrine Bygren digitalization will provide accounting firms with real-time access to knowledge and information and will enable a global exchange between people and plugged in digital appliances.

Digitization will give accounting firms more effective actions, tools, knowledge sharing, communication and more knowledgeable and skilled employees.

Additionally, accounting firms will benefit from immediately collected data to access. It will also provide accounting firms with more visibility, traceability and will enable customized clientele advising.

As mentioned earlier, digitization can also make organisations more competitive. Therefore, accounting firms will be able to approach and consult new and existing clients, partners and employees from a distance. 

Stakeholder Integration: Information Sent to and from Each Relevant Stakeholder

Clarifying roles, delegating responsibilities and establishing profiles for each employee must be taken into account before managing information flows. Once that is done, you will be able to integrate each employee into the information flow and identify the person to whom you wish to give the information to.

According to Katherine Bygren, the key for successful digitalization is to have supportive leaders for innovation and digitalization, as well as committed employees. Company leaders will play a crucial role in implementing the necessary infrastructure and best practices to ensure the efficiency of information flows.

The adoption of management tools has become a big trend. In order to benefit from the latest technological advancements in terms of digitisation, we wrote an article that will help you determine whether you will be able to benefit from a software solution.