Comparing IT providers in accountancy practices: Why it's like apples and oranges

We know that choosing an IT provider for your accountancy practice can be a daunting task, which is further complicated when you compare the offerings from several IT managed service providers. How do you know if you’re comparing apples and apples?

Unfortunately, you’re often comparing apples and oranges as various factors come into play, such as break-fix and proactive support, technology agnosticism, certifications like ISO 9001 and ISO 27001, industry-specific experience and knowledge, and pricing models. Each provider has its unique offering and standards, and sometimes you need to get into the granular detail to ensure you choose the best-fitting IT provider for your accountancy practice.

Break-fix and proactive support – responding vs preventing

When it comes to IT support, your accountancy practice has two primary options: break-fix and proactive support. Break-fix support is reactive in nature, meaning the IT provider steps in when an issue arises and resolves it promptly. On the other hand, proactive support takes a preventative approach by continuously monitoring systems, identifying potential problems, and addressing them before they cause disruptions.

Downtime for your accountancy practice can have significant financial implications and hinder client service delivery. Comparing IT providers based on their support models is like comparing apples and oranges. While break-fix support may seem cost-effective upfront, proactive support (like Orca) can offer long-term value by minimising downtime, enhancing system stability, and preventing issues before they occur. However, the choice ultimately depends on your accountancy practice’s specific needs and budget, making direct comparisons challenging.

Technology agnosticism – flexibility is key

As your accountancy practice evolves and expands, it’ll likely have changing needs from an IT perspective and be heavily dependent on a wide range of technical solutions that help you handle sensitive information, streamline processes, and facilitate client communication. However, the availability and features of these solutions can differ among providers, depending on whether they’re technology agnostic or not, adding to the comparing apples and oranges scenario.

IT providers who aren’t technology-agnostic may limit the range of solutions available for your accountancy practice, potentially causing compatibility issues and hindering future scalability. However, you’ll benefit from in-depth knowledge of that solution. On the other hand, a technology-agnostic IT MSP (like Orca), offers flexibility, allowing your accountancy practice to choose the best-fit solutions and seamlessly integrate them into your existing infrastructure, which will help you achieve your business goals.

Industry-specific experience and knowledge – understanding accountancy needs

Your accountancy practice operates within a highly regulated industry with specific compliance requirements such as keeping records for at least 7 years, as well as accounting-specific software and applications like IRIS, Sage, CCH. IT providers with industry-specific experience and knowledge are better equipped to understand the unique challenges, peaks and nuances of the accountancy profession.

So, when comparing IT providers, assessing their industry-specific experience and knowledge is essential. When IT MSPs are familiar with the accountancy sector, like we are at Orca, they can offer tailored solutions, support during peak periods like tax season, provide guidance on compliance matters, and understand the intricacies of accounting software integration. Their expertise can play a vital role in helping your accountancy practice stay compliant, efficient, and effective.

Certifications – ensuring quality and security

In the realm of accountancy practices, data security and service quality are of paramount importance. Certifications such as ISO 9001 for quality management systems and ISO 27001 for information security management systems demonstrate an IT provider’s commitment to maintaining high standards in these areas, both of which Orca hold certifications for.

It’s crucial to consider certifications like ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 when comparing IT providers. These certifications signify that the provider has undergone rigorous internal and external audits and adheres to internationally recognised standards. However, it’s important to note that certifications alone don’t guarantee a perfect fit for every accountancy practice. They should be considered alongside other factors, such as expertise and experience in the industry.

Pricing models – finding the right balance

Pricing models IT providers implement can vary, including fixed fees, pay-as-you-go structures, subscription-based plans, or customised models. When comparing providers based on pricing, your accountancy practice needs to consider the budget and expected usage.

However, comparing pricing models alone is like comparing apples and oranges. A provider with a lower initial cost may have hidden charges or limitations that could impact the overall cost-effectiveness. On the other hand, a higher-priced provider may offer comprehensive services, higher service levels, and value-added features that enhance the accountancy practice’s efficiency and security. It’s crucial to evaluate the value provided within each pricing model to make an informed decision.

Comparing IT providers for your accountancy practice is indeed like comparing apples and oranges. Unique factors such as break-fix and proactive support, technology agnosticism, certifications like ISO 9001 and ISO 27001, industry-specific experience, knowledge, and pricing models make direct comparisons challenging. Your accountancy practices must carefully evaluate their specific needs, consider the IT provider’s offerings, and assess how well they align with your requirements. By doing so, they can select an IT provider that addresses their current needs and supports their long-term goals of efficiency, compliance, and security. Remember, it’s not just about finding the juiciest apple or the sweetest orange but rather finding the perfect fit for your accountancy practice’s unique needs.

If your accountancy practice is looking at investing in IT and technology in the coming months, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 0345 504 8989, or you can book a meeting with us at the most convenient time.

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