Leveraging the right technology is a challenge for any business. But it’s particularly important in the accountancy sector where digitisation is accelerating at pace. With interesting new accountancy technology emerging, there’s an opportunity for accounting firms to transform how they work and drive greater value from their activities. As our portfolio company, Gravita, discovered when they worked with Rob Tregaskes, Tenzing’s Subject Specialist on internal technology.
Gravita is an award-winning, tech-enabled provider of essential business services for UK SMEs. The business helps private individuals, HNWIs, entrepreneurs, fast-growth businesses and listed companies to achieve their ambitions through accountancy, audit, tax and advisory services.
With ambitious growth plans, Gravita knew technology was key to achieving its goals. However, too many of the internal business processes depended on legacy, on-premise systems. No longer fit for purpose, it was time for a full systems’ review.
Gravita also faced a challenge with its lead-to-cash process which needed to be tightened up to drive efficiencies. In addition, the business also wanted to create an industry-leading digital offering for its clients. The firm’s leaders were thinking about experimenting with digital services to enhance the client experience. They were considering hiring an engineering team to do this but were unsure how to approach the project.
Gravita had three goals:
- Audit the technology in the business – identify the systems in place, how they interacted and connected with each other and any opportunities to improve efficiencies and workflows.
- Understand the lead-to-cash process – and ensure the business has best-in-class tools for each service line.
- Explore digital value-add services to enhance Gravita’s offer – to further differentiate the business in the market and retain their position as the firm of choice in their segment.
Underpinning these three goals was a need for integrated technology architecture that would deliver a great client and employee experience. This was a key pillar that would support Gravita’s goal of becoming a ‘firm of the future’ – one that would be attractive to both clients, Gravita employees and upcoming talent.
Stage 1 – existing technology audit
Over the course of a nine-week discovery phase, I explored Gravita’s:
- People – the organisation chart, the work being carried out and the existing software model that delivered it.
- Finance – the company’s current software spend per vendor per year, spend by headcount, revenue by product/service and the high level FY22 budget.
- Core business – the lead-to-cash process, client support communications and products, service and pricing.
- IT – the vendor list, user groups, SSO/access control and basic tools like chat and phones.
- The existing CCH software – its modules and features, access and permissions, data structures and processes.
Stage 2 – understand the lead-to-cash process
A deep dive was then carried out to fully understand the lead-to-cash process and the technology aligned with each service line. This involved:
- Clarifying the different types of services and the value proposition aligned to them – By understanding the services provided to clients, the frequency of provision and associated business models, the systems’ requirements became much clearer.
- Exploring how billing worked – Analysing a firm’s billing is an unexpected but critical part of understanding the lead-to-cash process and selecting the right technology to support current and future billing approaches.
- Investigating client data – With data siloed in different systems, partners couldn’t easily access the information they needed to provide the forward-thinking insight that sets the firm apart. Understanding the data that clients provide to the business and thinking through a strategy to manage that data was central to the choice of CRM software.
- Matching the right work with the right tools – Comparing the company’s existing software with the systems available on the market enabled gaps in provision and system changes to be identified.
Stage 3 – identify best-in-class tools to support Gravita’s ambitions
As well as establishing the current state of affairs, it was also important to consider where the business was headed to future-proof the choice of software. A range of aspects were considered including:
- Introducing a sales team – to provide leads for partners to close. This would require an additional software investment but it would free up partners’ time and modernise the sales process.
- A desire to experiment with pricing models – robust quoting tools would be needed to ensure data was captured at the point of quoting and to identify which business had converted and which had not.
- Status of future acquisitions – with brand and market-positioning decisions likely to be taken on a case-by-case basis, the system architecture had to provide sufficient flexibility to ensure effective post-integration processes regardless of the strategy.
- Changing from an office-first to digital-first culture – moving towards a digital culture would rely on a great employee and customer technology experience with secure, stable platforms supported by robust, defined processes.
With a clear picture of what the business needed both today and into the future, I was able to present my findings and propose a way forward that would:
- Deliver a smooth, simplified lead-to-cash process with best-in-class, streamlined software and workflows that better managed complexity, increased automation and enhanced productivity.
- Identify gaps where functional systems – like a marketing or sales platform – would fulfil specific needs and drive efficiencies.
Having gained agreement to these initial proposals, I reviewed a wide range of software providers and narrowed down the options to ensure the right systems for the business’ needs. I then negotiated with all the relevant vendors and presented a fully costed, detailed proposal with named systems.
The proposal was accepted and, just six months after starting the project, Gravita is carrying out phase one of a three-phase project:
Phase one – implement a robust, controlled core
This stage ensured that the basics, like the HR system and communication platforms, worked well and that everyone in the business could easily engage with the systems they needed. Platforms like the CRM, work management tools and finance software were all prepared and rolled out to a project plan.
Phase two – enrich the account view and invest in marketing automation
The second stage will enable Gravita partners to see a powerful data-rich overview of each client and enable automated targeted marketing and outreach.
Phase three – enhance the client experience
The final phase will see Gravita in a position to experiment with digital services that will make it easier for their clients to engage with and enjoy a frictionless level of service. With best-in-class software, the business will be able to achieve this at a fraction of the cost of developing bespoke solutions.
As part of the project, I will provide ongoing education to employees to help them make the leap to the new ways of working. And I’ll develop the IT team so they can support the new infrastructure into the future.
Benefits to the business
Even though the project is not yet complete, Gravita has already experienced positive change as a result of the new technologies. The business now has a much better idea of work in progress and billing, allowing it to forecast with greater confidence.
The firm also knows what the future looks like and the partners can articulate this vision to companies they want to acquire. With the right tools in place – that will flex with the business as it adapts and grows – Gravita can demonstrate the investment they’ve made. This will allow potential new business partners to see that they’ll have everything they need to grow their business more easily and efficiently than before. Without any of the hassle and expense of systems development.
This technological revolution has only been possible with Tenzing’s specialist support. As Caroline Plumb, CEO of Gravita says:
Find out how Tenzing could support your business on its growth journey.