In this age of fast-paced information, numerous cloud-based accounting systems, millions of apps, and changing accounting standards, it’s hard for the most technical accountant or greatest generalist (if they still exist) to keep up. It’s come to the point that keeping up with new technology is harder than keeping up with the technical side of accounting. So how do we, as leaders, keep ourselves and our teams up to par? At the W2 Group, we have found specialization training, ongoing training meeting and cross-training within the firm has helped reduce the employee knowledge gap of all employees in our firm.
Some firms have designated staff who only focus on receipt capturing and expense approvals using third-party apps such as Receipt Bank, Hubdoc and Expensify. In today’s accounting environment, we need designated specialists for most processes within the accounting cycle.
To ensure that all staff are knowledgeable about our tech stack, we create annual training/certification goals and related milestones. We require all staff, including our administrative assistant, to attend webinar and certification training to become experts in our firm’s core tech stack. By having all staff certified in your tech stack, you increase the knowledge of your staff and reduce gaps.
Information sharing in an organization is not as innate as firm leaders would prefer. I can’t count the times in our organization when a staff or manager contacted me to answer a question that a team member could have actually answered better than me. With a completely remote staff and web meetings being the primary way we communicate, employee interaction and staff training are difficult to facilitate, and it’s often assumed senior leadership has all the answers. To solve this, we also delegate an in-house expert for other staff to consult with on certain applications when they have issues. This creates an environment of information sharing between staff. Having in-house experts share their knowledge in group forums is also a great way to share specialized information.
Month-End Training Meetings
We also instituted firm trainings via Skype, where we go over the most common issues of the latest month end. Specifically, leadership reviews the issues or miscues by the team for the previous month end, such as staff not following standard operating procedures (SOP), not billing time or forgetting to reconcile accounts. We use these monthly training meetings to educate all staff about the firm-wide policies and operating procedures. These meetings help us share ideas, provide clarity on issues and errors for those who stumbled, and encourage a culture of cross-training.
In addition to specialized training and month-end training meeting, firms should invest more in cross-training. It’s likely that our training budgets don’t allow us to take the entire staff on all off-site training. To circulate the knowledge learned from others doing off-site training, we have that staff member recap that training during our month-end training meetings. This form of training provides two benefits for our firm. First, it ensures the person attending the off-site training learns as much as possible since they must come back and share that information in a general session. Second, this system allows the staff to gain knowledge from training they couldn’t attend or simply aren’t that familiar so that your staff remains efficient and flexible.
By offering specialized training and ongoing, real-time learning based on real issues, and finding ways for staff share knowledge and across the firm, you can be sure you have a well-informed staff ready to execute and keep up with the constant changes in technology, apps and accounting standards.