One area where accounting and audit firms should ensure they are maximising their efforts is building strong relationships with their software vendors.

In 2024, modern practices are likely to use an array of software tools, including ERP, CRM practice management, audit automation, working papers, and digital signing.

Leading software providers should assign firms with account managers, often referred to as customer success managers, to help onboard them and provide ongoing support to ensure they meet and exceed business goals.

While account managers from vendors should be forthcoming, accounting and audit firms should be proactive by following our tips below:

Request A Dedicated Account Manager 

Software vendors should assign you with an account manager to handle all queries and work with you to achieve success, however you define it.

The reach of vendors means that they are likely to have experience working with businesses across all sectors and at different stages in their lifecycle. 

You should leverage this knowledge and know-how by requesting an account manager who specialises in working with audit and accounting firms.

For audit tech vendors, this will enable you to demonstrate best practices around digital transformation and overcome issues from traditional clients who may resist your request for access to the entirety of their data sets. 

Designate An Internal Champion To Hold The Relationship

Assigning an individual within your firm to manage the relationship with key vendors will make them accountable by working side by side with account managers to get the most out of adopted software.

This team member should partner with key internal stakeholders who use tools to understand pain points and evangelise about its benefits, the latest developments, and successes. 

Selecting a promising mid-level employee gives them a great opportunity to prove themselves and develop their career.

A proportion of their internal annual review should focus on how successfully software tools are being utilised, concerning their KPIs and whether capabilities are being leveraged firm-wide. 

Establish and Measure KPIs

Establishing and measuring KPIs should be one of the first tasks you undertake with customer success.

Doing so will enable your firm to understand whether vendor relationships are working and are worth the investment.

This should be a collaborative exercise because audit firms will not initially understand product capabilities, and software vendors will not know their client's pain points and priorities. 

Audit firms are likely to focus on saving time and costs and improving client satisfaction, but every firm is different, so do give this some thought. 

Wherever possible, KPIs should be quantifiable so they are easily measured. 

Book In Regular Touch Points 

At a minimum schedule catch-ups with account managers every quarter to make both parties accountable. 

More frequent check-ins may be needed during the onboarding and early stage of implementations, so it doesn't hurt to push for monthly catch-ups, providing internal champions are organised to get the most out of meetings. 

Request Training Materials and Resources 

Request training materials from customer success account managers. This should include training sessions, webinars, documents and best practice guides.

These will help you understand product capabilities and streamline workflows to get the most out of tools.

Resources should be shared internally to build advocacy and support team members. 

It may also be possible to get invited to in-person events, connect with peers, experience live case study panels, and question product leaders about future developments. 

Let Success Teams Know About Changing Priorities

Today's uncertain economic environment means that your priorities are likely to be subject to change.

For example, your firm may have pivoted from high growth, winning as many new clients as possible, through to one being based on sustainable growth, typified by cutting back on winning new clients and instead focusing on seeking cross-sell opportunities across core clients.

In these instances, firms inform their account managers about their changing plans so KPIs can be finetuned and lean on learnings from accounting firms and other businesses that have made similar changes already.

Getting the most out of customer success at software vendors will give your firm the best chance of tools being utilized to their fullest capabilities and in line with strategic goals. If you have an existing tech tool that has not delivered results apply our tips outlined before seeking alternatives.

Click here to read about how Circit has helped audit firms streamline and improve their audit workflows.

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