4 min read

Digital Culture at Your CPA Firm

Table of Contents

Digital culture,

Digital insights,

Digital strategy,

Digital transformation

These may feel like a litany of buzzwords, but they are, in fact, the future of your firm. The future may not be exclusively digital but it is digital-first. Firms that are on top of their game already have an eye to this and are in accelerated adoption mode. 

Whether or not the term “digital culture” is part of your lexicon, these concepts and principles should be on your radar. 

What Does “Digital Culture” Mean?

Here is what we mean by “digital culture”:

  • A new form of culture where decisions, habits, and behaviors are shaped by technological innovations. 
  • Includes norms that emanate from utilization of digital tools and technologies.
  • Digital culture also includes shared values and shapes how an organization interacts in new ways with internal and external stakeholders.

For more, see IGI Global’s definition of Digital Culture

The world is more connected than ever, and the digital world is shaping how people behave, how they think, the decisions they make, and how they communicate. Businesses of all kinds rely on digital, tech-based tools to get work done. 

Accounting firms that are serious about engineering growth will foster a digital culture.

Where Digital Culture Begins

Creating and supporting a digital culture begins with an assessment of your firm’s culture as it sits today. Every firm already has a culture: is yours growth-oriented and forward focused? Or do you have some work to do with sharing the priority of digital adoption, growth in new efforts, and the importance of messaging or marketing? Firms that already have a growth culture will find it much easier to adopt a digital-first mindset.

Of course, change starts at the top. If leadership isn’t aligned with the priority of digital, nothing will ever cascade down. At Winding River, we have a digital charter manifesto that begins with leadership alignment. The managing partner, partners, CMO, executive committee: everyone needs to understand the goals of digital. This is largely because achieving those goals will require resources, and no one’s going to spend for something they don’t believe in.

All Hands Required

A growth culture reflects one that tolerates calculated risks, which is something that must be flexible in this journey given the fact that not every piece of technology or process will work within your firms eco.

Once leadership acknowledges and owns the value of digital culture, these ideologies need to be implemented. In other words, it isn’t enough just to say that you want to be a tech-first firm, you need to consider how technology can strategically augment, support, amplify, and otherwise improve your business operations. Then, you need a plan to execute on all of it. This requires all hands on deck, with thorough team buy-in, identified digital champions, and allocating time to find new opportunities and master new tools.

Digital Champions

You already know the individuals in your firm who have good leadership qualities. And where leadership = influence, they are prime candidates to be digital champions. We recommend crafting an ask: enlist their support by explaining what digital culture looks like and the steps your firm plans to take in that direction. Let them “own” parts of the process, add in their ideas for waving the digital banner, and then help leadership with communication and ongoing implementation.

Share the Knowledge

Anytime your firm grows, there is new territory to cover. Creating or growing a digital culture requires learning new things. Not everyone can learn everything, but everyone can learn something. Doing the work of gaining knowledge around new technology, new systems, and new strategies is essential if you’re going to incubate new ideas. But with this comes new visibility into performance metrics and data, in real time, to start making more informed decisions in identifying your top clients.

Support new learnings by giving people space to share. This may take the form of a 10 minute stand-up, a new messaging channel, or even a company-wide internal newsletter for monthly updates. You may use Teams or Slack, in which case you can tie a tool like VidIQ directly into a growth channel. Every time you hit a major metric, such as views, it sends an automated update to the channel on growth. However you do it, get the word out and make sure people see that your journey toward digital culture is on track. 

Gain Confidence and Competence

The more you know, the better you can do. If your firm is trying to establish or improve a digital culture, all of that effective knowledge acquisition needs to translate into action. As everyone becomes increasingly equipped, they’ll gain confidence and competence in digital tools and digital-first tactics. Remember, part of an adoption journey is knowing that not everyone will be a full adopter. That is OK, and you can handle it like anything else: promote the ideas, tout the benefits, and support with education and resources where you can.

To ensure that improvement happens on pace, you need to have some guidance in place. Just like with any business effort, you want benchmarking, KPIs, success metrics, and ongoing analysis.

We’ll say it now: digital culture doesn’t just mean a new website and enhanced LinkedIn presence. Culture is deeply rooted and something that drives behaviors. To ensure you are enacting transformation at that level, you must watch the progress and drive momentum without fail. We recommend a quarterly, firm-wide update on digital progress tied to a workshop with specific homework. For ongoing insights, leverage data visualization tools to share insights firm-wide in a dashboard.

Measure the Results & Celebrate the Wins

It’s important to remember that while there are measurable results, there is no objective finish line to cultural transformation at your firm. Because there are so many mindset and behavioral components involved, it is an ever-evolving process, and one that takes time. Not every firm’s success metrics are the same because no two firms’ DNA is the same. But understanding and identifying your strengths and early adoption will accelerate your path to a culture driven by digital and growth.

  • Get up to 90% adoption for a new software system? Celebrate that.
  • Have employees volunteer to be digital culture ambassadors in their department? Send a company-wide acknowledgement.
  • Identify team members taking initiative to teach others? Call it out.

Be proactive about praising forward motion. After all, the essence of culture is the idea that “people like us do things like this.” When you see it happen, you’re seeing tangible results that digital culture formation is occurring. 

Ready to Create a Digital Culture at Your Accounting Firm? 

Culture change is not a minor task. But the payoff is literally seen in the future health and prosperity of your firm. It can be hard to know where to start, and Winding River Consulting is here to help. We can provide consultation and guidance in your firm’s efforts toward building and blossoming a digital culture. Get in touch today to learn more.

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