From XU Magazine, 
Issue 16

Is your technical advisory service industry-relevant?

In recent years, accounting firms are expanding their services into business advisory and consulting. One form of business advisory service is technical advisory. As with any advisory and consulting services, to succeed, an accounting firm shall understand the drivers for businesses to take up advisory services and cater your services to meet industry specific demands. In short, keep your technical advices relevant to your clients’ business processes, growth and success. Li Fitzmaurice, the co-founder and marketing manager of EzzyBills, is shedding some light on this with interesting case studies in technical advisory...
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"Among thousands of EzzyBills accounting partners, we see an emerging group of accountants that are proactive with the jobs they do. They push us hard to provide customised services to their clients. They talk to us about the industry-specific need of their clients in terms of technology, email us examples of their paperwork and workflow, and seek the best solutions to streamline the business processes.

While doing so, these accountants are providing advisory services in technology as an extension of their normal accounting services. They see the strength of EzzyBills in providing customised invoice automation and approval solutions for their clients. They understand that businesses are in a very competitive environment and customised solutions will drive up their profit margin and make them winners in their industries.”

Dr Li Fitzmaurice

We have seen excellent technical advisory services provided to the businesses associated with the National Disability Scheme (NDIS). NDIS was created on July 2016, by the Australian government to provide services for people with disability. These services are provided by service providers, who are typically independent contractors.

According to the Australia government forecast, over 100,000 NDIS service providers are expected, adding twenty billion dollars to the Australian Economy. This is the creation of the largest new industry in Australia in a generation. Many of service providers will be independent contractors, who will need accounting services.

EzzyBills and our accounting partners are expanding rapidly in this market. The current invoice volume and growth is truly staggering.  The architecture of EzzyBills allows us to provide custom integrations, such as providing specific NDIS functionality like extracting the NDIS provider number from invoices, identifying what service is provided via our unique description to code matching. With an EzzyBills Custom Workflow, payment requests can be uploaded into the NDIS payment portal in seconds.

“As an NDIS registered Plan Manager, we help people with NDIS plans to claim and process their invoices. Implementing EzzyBills has made a huge difference to our processing time. The EzzyBills team has modified their tools for us to capture the extra details required by NDIS. This has significantly reduced our data entry time and potential for errors. Thanks to EzzyBills we’re able to operate a highly efficient and scalable business.” Elisa James, CEO of Plan Tracker

Industry specific customisation like this is a huge boost to productivity. Accounting professionals that are able to implement such technology for their clients will make their services valuable to their clients, making themselves an integral part of NDIS business opportunities.

Be industry specific in technical advisory to ensure best fit

Technical advisory is about integrating two completely different industries; accounting and technology. It requires different skill sets and hence it is not without challenges.

Whilst exhibiting at Accountex London a few months ago, we had the opportunity to talk to hundreds of accountants. We discovered that the primary purpose of these accountants was to educate themselves about the new technologies available. Technology providers were many at Accountex and the services they offered were diverse. It would take a lot listening, hands-on experience, and some technical skills for accountants to stay on top of technology and figure out the best choices for their customers.

Some of our accounting partners choose to use the technology for their own practice first and then onsell to their clients if they love to use the technology already. Fippet, a cloud solution consulting service provider is doing just that with great success. This pathway is more manageable and cost effective, especially if your practice has a small number of employees.

Some accounting firms are conservative in their choice of technology: they prefer more established and well-known brands. In being so, emerging technologies are kept out of their selections. When their clients are out searching themselves, the accounting firm may not appear in a position of technical advisor but rather the one being advised.

It is important to find out from your clients what their business processes are and identify the best technology solutions available to help them. For example, farmers tend to get most sale invoices and expenses in the form of recipient created invoices. Therefore, the technology advice needs to be industry-specific to ensure the best fit.

“At EzzyBills, we strongly believe that it is important to cater for the technological needs of many different industries. Generic technologies may be sufficient to make your accounting and tax digital; however technology that has been customised for the industry would deliver the maximum benefits to the businesses.” Dr Li Fitzmaurice

In addition to the smart machine learning, EzzyBills is geared towards smart customisation. Our technology design enables us to deliver customisation rapidly. Our customisation is either in the form of special document data extraction, or in the form of automating business processes with custom workflow. Figure 1 shows an example of EzzyBills custom workflow.

With comprehensive application programming interface (API) support, EzzyBills can readily integrate with many other accounting software. It allows not only the retrieval of invoice data, but also allows the use of our special machine learning, supplier/product matching algorithms, and other smart components of our technology.  EzzyBills also supports different workflows, i.e. business processes.

EzzyBills has grown to provide services for businesses of all sizes. For small or medium enterprises, EzzyBills provide services to them mostly via our accounting partners. To service larger businesses, EzzyBills works extensively with industry partners, with EzzyBills as the core of the technology via API.

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