How to “Cloud Accounting” for Tax: Phase 3: Ensuring Success

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We have gone through how to handle Phase 1 and Phase 2, Assessment and Implementation respectfully. Now let’s talk about Phase 3: Ensuring Success. While the first two parts of the change management plan include the bulk of the “doing,” this phase is geared towards making sure that the change sticks.

People need to feel connected to the change. They need to not only understand why, but also understand how and what’s next. As you are working through the change you will be communicating with the team consistently. And you also want to protect the time of the two main sponsors – the Training Sponsor and the Executive Sponsor. It is a fine balance.

Here are some tips to walk the line and plan for success:

  1. Office Hours:
    Instead of making the Training Sponsor available at all times to answer questions, have a consistent cadence of office hours. I recommend dedicating at least an hour a week after the implementation where the Training Sponsor is open and ready to answer everyone’s questions in a group environment. This will force the team to try and work through their questions first, and also organize their thoughts.
  2. Executive Sponsor Updates:
    The Executive Sponsor is not off the hook as soon as the change goes live. In fact, now is the time they need to keep a pulse on the team and continue to communicate. The team needs to feel supported at all levels. I recommend doing a weekly five-minute video to update the team on the change and what’s happening around the change. Have there been any stories of team members embracing the change and doing amazing things? How about on the client side? Share these stories and make it a personal video for the team to feel connected.
  3. Reporting KPIs:
    When we started on the journey of implementing something new, there was a reason for it. Setting goals and measurements at the Executive Sponsor level is important to be able to track the success of the goals. Sharing these key performance indicators (KPI’s) is just as important. The team will respond well to being able to see the performance of the team before and after the change. You can track the KPIs on a dashboard that everyone has access to, or even just report them in the Executive Sponsor updates weekly.
  4. Ongoing Team Support:
    The Training Sponsor should organize a chat group (e.g. a Slack channel or a Microsoft Teams group) to have ongoing communication across the team. The Training Sponsor should not be just answering every question but guiding the conversation or pointing people that are stuck in the right direction. The goal of this communication channel is to ensure that the team is utilizing each other and working together to build the best practices post-change.
  5. Best Practices Storage:
    As your team develops best practices and standard operating procedures (SOPs) and yes, these will evolve post-change, they should be documented, saved, and shared. Build a folder into your document storage for best practices/SOPs and have the Training Sponsor approve the items that get stored in there. Knowledge sharing will make everyone better!

Change is hard. Planning for change and understanding the implications of each phase of the change is important to ensure success!

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Liz Mason
Liz Mason is a serial entrepreneur, a giant nerd, and an involved accounting vanguard. She is CEO and Founder of High Rock Accounting, TheDepartment.Tax, and a few other related brands. Liz speaks on a national stage, guests stars on podcasts, publishes a YouTube show (The Hot Accounts), and writes frequently. To further her passion for the advancement of the accounting profession, Liz currently serves as a Xero National Ambassador and as the Content Strategist for Tax Practice News. Liz started her career in tax at Grant Thornton (at 20) and automated a portion of her job landing her in the national tax practice. She spent a decade in large public accounting firms working on highly technical tax consulting before branching off on her own. Liz utilizes her creativity and passion at her company to uproot traditional practices and replace them with innovative concepts. She finds joy in efficient technology and her core belief is that everyone and everything can continuously improve (she says "be better" too often). When Liz isn't planning world domination in accounting, she is a die-hard skier, down for any adventure, plays the ukulele, reads everything, and has a good sense of humor. If you're looking for her, you can find her traveling the world and enjoying new food and cultures with her husband and young son. Follow Liz and High Rock Accounting on Twitter at @LizzyNorMa and @HighRockCPAs.