Helping ambitious organisations reach their goals through greater business services and advisory, Bentleys SA is one of the latest practices that’s leveraging data to drive new outcomes. We spoke to Marc Sodomka, Chief Operating Officer at Bentleys SA, about how the practice collects and uses data, the perpetual rewards of smart data management and the future of the accounting sector.
The start of a new data journey
Bentleys SA’s approach to becoming a data-driven practice only began in earnest recently, as the journey to discovering and utilising data to develop KPIs revealed great opportunities. Understanding the insights that the data can provide and uncovering the opportunities that come from it can be powerful due to its fact-based evidence.
“We were looking at opportunities to provide more comprehensive reporting and value-added services to our clients,” Marc says. “The starting point of all that strategic thinking was reconciliation beginning with a process of discovery: what do we have now, where do we need to get to, and what tools do we need to be able to put those things in place? We knew that would involve software, education and training for all our staff.”
Marc adds that his team has spent these intervening months talking about client needs, specifically what information and what type of services their clients want from Bentleys SA. “That’s become a really heavy focus for a lot of the staff recently, as well as the partners. It’s something we’re very excited about – being able to improve on and also add value through providing additional services.”
Reaping the rewards of data
Bentleys SA doesn’t have a specific data officer or an individual responsible for the overarching management of its data, as that responsibility has been pressed upon every member of staff.
“Our firm takes data seriously from sourcing, protection and utilisation through to the management of data,” Marc says, adding that everyone plays an important role in their new data-driven approach, from leveraging APS solutions like Practice IQ and valuable APS partner solutions like Power BI and FeeSynergy in their day-to-day operations, to using external data insights and alternative sources to improve their service delivery to clients. The opportunities, Marc says, are endless.
“Capturing the right data upfront is critical to how we manage the business. What we’ve seen recently is people’s interest and engagement in being able to visualise what the numbers are telling us.”
“For partners and the professional team, they very much have a focus on using the corporate services engine to get the information they need to assist in relationship building with clients. But it also enables them to seek out further opportunities with clients and add value to the services we already provide. So, we’re seeing a huge amount of benefits already in a short period of time, all because our people are more focused on data.”
Central to all things data
APS is the beating heart of Bentleys SA’s data-driven approach, and Marc says it plays an important operational role for the firm.
“APS is a key source for data – from client information to workflow management, taxation, accounting and even timesheets. All that plays a critical part in being able to leverage the data that we obtain in the organisation.”
“What’s important now is we are focusing on the reporting, the analysis and the outputs of APS. We believe APS is a critical vehicle for us to be able to provide insights not just internally, but also externally to better support our clients.”
The future of accounting is filled with data
Looking to the future, Marc is confident that technology will continue to shape how the accounting industry evolves – and in particular, the increasing role that data will play.
“Technology has changed the landscape immensely over the last few years. I remember first using paper ledger books, then going to Excel spreadsheets, and then going through on-premise software solutions, and now cloud-based solutions are the norm. So, the accounting industry is always adapting to emerging technologies.”
“Having good-quality data – in whatever environment – is critical. It will only benefit your clients. If you don’t have good quality data, you’re really flying blind.”
Bentleys SA is just one of many happy APS customers. If you want to embrace these changing times and use it as an opportunity for digital growth, speak to the experts at APS.
APS is a division of Reckon, an ASX listed company. We develop the software used by the best Accounting firms in Australia and New Zealand to run their business’ and advise their clients.