The discussion around App Advisory continues in the industry. It was a feature at Quickbooks Connect earlier in the year, and again at Xerocon Brisbane. As I write these words our team noticed it was up for discussion at the From the Trenches podcast featuring Tim Boyar and Paul Meissner. Paul cynically observed that app advisory was “the next thing that accountants have to do or they’ll go out of business”. The industry certainly does get tired of being lectured by software vendors that they have to do something or they’ll go out of business. Another slightly cynical observation was that App Advisory was about “getting us locked into their ecosystem”. The pair seemed to agree that a base understanding was needed to answer client queries, but this seemed to be limited to Xero and Receipt Bank.

I think Paul was right when he said it’s difficult to simply tap someone on the shoulder at a firm and say “Ok, you’re now the app advisory department”. As he probably rightly observed, he’d make 2-3 times more in bringing on work that his firm is actually scaled for. As he put it: “My clients don’t’ want to pay me the right market value to learn the systems, and sit there and implement and train them on it.”

And upon meeting many clients, we too, support this claim. But more often the client mostly lacks understanding of the dire need for this service. Just Like a popular cliché, “accountant solves problems you didn’t know you have”. This has been transferred to the App Advisory industry. But this is not a surprise as most Apps perform accounting and bookkeeping tasks. This failure to understand the complexity involved in acquiring an App for a business lead to undervaluing this service.

Many of our clients, on training them about any App, admit to having had no clue and never thought that the app world is too complex. Upon seeing many advertisements on apps, they thought they could easily identify and purchase the right App for their business. But the fact is, it takes an App advisor who properly understand the client business challenges and opportunity and the Apps in the market to correctly advise on the App is appropriate for the business and will lead to increased business productivity. Therefore, we need to help the client understand why they need App advice before the actual purchase and that the decision around App needs more than meet the eye. For example, purchasing inappropriate App will only be a loss as it won’t be able to perform the required tasks.

And upon meeting many clients, questions on why they need App advice always stand out. Fortunately, after understanding, they become open-minded, become eager to receive the services and have no problem paying for the services as they are aware of the benefits from these services.

 

So, why do client need App advisory service before acquiring an App?

xerocon brisbaneWith many Apps in the market, selecting an app that meets the unique needs of any business is not as easy as it sounds. Business needs vary depending on the size of business, what activities the business carries, the recording requirement and so on. Therefore, it’s misleading to just pick an App based on the advertisement that it worked for another business. An App advisory service helps a business make a decision on the app, by assessing the business need, App price and quality, security and the App ability to be upgraded in case of this need. As mentioned above, every business has different needs and hence requires an App that can meet its unique needs. An App could be able to solve most of its need but fail to solve the most important task for the business. To solve this problem, many App advisory businesses have equipped themselves and are able to assess the business needs and in turn, advise on the appropriate App for their business.

After purchasing and implementing the appropriate App for the business, there is a need to train the staff who will be operating the system. For example, how do you to start, record data and generate reports? Some app requires knowledge on how to operate them to avoid unnecessary breakdown. Here, App advisory plays a big role in training and ensuring implementation is a success.

Similarly, business confidentiality of utmost importance. With the growth of technology, there is growth; cybercrimes have also increase posing a great risk to both businesses and individuals. This means that the business can lose all their confidential information if there are no securities measures are not in place. So going the app way could mean a threat to the business but this is one of the reasons we offer App advisory service. It’s us in this industry that clearly understands the security software that is appropriate depending on the App.

Also, with the high growth of the app technology, we can only expect more development on Apps. For example, apps which can perform more task. No client would wish to be buying a new App every year and this necessitates purchasing an App which can be upgraded easily in case a new need arise. Thus, knowing the App longevity and its ability to be upgraded is very important and for this reason, clients should take advantage of App advisory knowledge on this area.

Lastly, I would classify an app as an asset or a project which is expected to bring returns in the future. And just like any investment, purchasing an app need to be planned, to ensure it is worth the money and will, in turn, bring profit to the business. But one can not only rely on adverts since every marketer needs to make a sale thus only showing the App good side of a product. So, how do you prove the truth and get the value of your money? It is only by using the App advisory services.