In an exclusive interview with Chris Cairns, partner at Alliotts LLP, Chris reveals what it's like to work with T-Tech as their MSP, how they collaborate across the business, their reaction to Covid-19, and what the future of technology looks like at the practice.

Q: Tell us about your practice?

A: Alliotts has been around now for 152 years, with one office in Central London just off Drury Lane, and one in Guildford. The team is made up of 100 professional staff & 13 partners. We are a full-service practice, with a heavy focus on international, overseas in and outbound clients.

Q: What was IT like before T-Tech got involved?

A: The set up wasn’t cutting edge; it did the job, but it wasn’t great. If there had been a pandemic at that point, we would have been in trouble. We would not have been able to fully operate remotely or to deliver on work for clients. We would not have had the resilience to manage the change.

Q: How has IT modernisation and setting up “good foundations” changed life for the practice?

A: Before the pandemic, IT fundamentally changed how we worked. It created a much more modern and seamless working IT environment. In terms of the basic matters such as internet and WIFI speeds, Outlook, the MS Office environment, and software versions we were on and how they worked together. For example, there was a fire underneath the street in our London office (nothing to do with us), which meant it had to be evacuated for four days. But the firm still went on. From an operational environment it continued. With the old IT environment, it wouldn’t have quite worked so seamlessly. It was not just about being modern and up to date, with new and shiny IT. It was about being able to cope with curveballs being thrown at you.

Q: How did the team cope when Covid hit?

A: We were lucky, as we were already set up for remote working. The thing we weren’t set up for was everybody moving to remote working at the same time. So, luckily thanks to T-Tech we had a premonition, and doubled the number of Azure servers we had two weeks before the first lockdown. Then everyone could work remotely at the same time. When it hit, there was momentary panic but then everyone realised it all worked and over the course of two to three months a lot of people realised that they much preferred it.

Q: How does the practice collaborate?

A: Primarily on Teams - pretty much everything is on teams! With clients we also use Zoom, WeChat, and WhatsApp. But where we can, we use MS Teams.

Q: What does the future use of technology look like for the practice?

A: It doesn’t matter where people are living for work anymore. This gives rise to opportunities in efficiencies from a commercial viewpoint. So, if you have a fully qualified accountant based in another country, who are qualified in the UK – does that matter? There will also be an increasing use of AI - because nobody should pay an accountant to turn the handle, it's a waste of an arm, and client’s money. Accountants should be paid to add the value. There is a worry that there are some things that you can miss out on without face-to-face meetings such as reading body language and building rapport, which is the flip side technology takes away. If you are helping a client sell their business, that is a very emotive, personal thing, and it is hard to do over a video call. Negotiating on the other side of a screen is not as effective. If you want to build a relationship with potential clients, it sometimes is just better done in person. People need to take the best bits from the changes resulting from the pandemic and continue to expand and develop those further. It is not a panacea in itself; they need to balance it.

Q: How long have you been working with T-Tech?

A: 3 years.

Q: What would be your advice to anyone considering working with a Managed Service Provider for their accountancy firm?

A: Unless your job in the firm is IT then you cannot physically do it. It is so complicated, so fast moving, and quick changing that you can’t keep up. You then have no choice but to use a Managed Service Provider. Within that context, if you are considering an MSP, with any business decision, yes cost is a part of it, but you get what you pay for. If you go out and buy the world’s cheapest pen, it won’t be as good if you bought a better pen, it won’t last as long. Ultimately, it might cost you more. An MSP needs to be people you respect, who you get on with, as it is a personal relationship. It needs to be with people who understand your business and your business needs - there is no other firm like yours. If you’re a lawyer, and they serve lawyers, it doesn’t mean they understand you. If you’re an accountant and they serve accountants, it doesn’t mean they understand you. Your business is different and this needs to be factored in by your MSP. Also, do you believe in your MSP? It is a bit like if you were hiring a new Managing Director for your business, what would you want? Loads of CVs would come through the door, but can you look the candidate in the eye and believe in them, are they your kind of person?

Q: What value does analytics play within the practice?

A: We are looking at things around evaluation processes, account reporting packages and how to use IT to make them more user friendly to clients. We use it to be a bit more pictorially in places, as not everyone is an accountant. We also have packages for producing and demonstrating forecasts, as well as business plans. It is a case of looking at different ways of presenting it too - again to make it more user-friendly, which is driven by analytics. We see the value of analytics as very high, but the important part is to interpret them in a way that the client understands and values because they are not accountants themselves.

Q: What are your growth plans for 2021?

A: In terms of financial performance of the firm, the plans are to exceed the market and to continue to do so.

You can read the original article in the Digital Accountancy Magazine

OTHER NEWS

Is your data collecting dust?

Approaching the challenges around data is often complex and difficult to tackle head on. In a recent poll, 90% of accountants agreed that their data quality is poor. A lot of accounting firms find they have limitations when it comes to data, and...

READ MORE

How to gain a competitive edge through a smart IT budget

In this year's Your Business Magazine, our latest feature reveals what you should be spending your IT budget on in 2022, with 5 key elements to help you reach your business goals. 

READ MORE

Automation is shaking up the accounting profession, here’s how

Automation has for too long been plagued with the consensus that it is complex and complicated, whether that be it is too difficult to install or will take jobs away from staff. 

READ MORE

6 target areas to keep cyber defences strong and the hackers at bay

Now more than ever, businesses both large and small must proactively maintain their cyber security, to prevent data breaches and the high cost that comes with it. In 2021, there were three times as many ransomware attacks in the first quarter alone,...

READ MORE

Fire up 2022 with these latest Office 365 tips

Office 365. The best of breed, modern workplace, cloud solution. This powerful platform is driving productivity and efficiencies to new levels. Can you imagine hybrid working now without these tools?

READ MORE

The wait is over. Your T-Tech 2021 Wrapped is here.

What a rollercoaster year it’s been for the T-Tech team. What started off a bit bleak in our secluded home offices, turned into a bright and prosperous year with lots to be thankful for.

READ MORE

The business benefits of cloud accounting

In the digital era, it is vital that accountancy firms modernise, in order to keep up with increasing consumer demands. Investing in cloud accounting solutions is an effective way to increase your efficiency and streamline your operations.  

READ MORE

An award winning night for T-Tech at the ITE Awards

In the 12th year of the prestigious European IT & Software Excellence Awards, T-Tech were crowned with the Innovating Managed Service Solution of the Year award. 

READ MORE

Strong IT Systems + Tech Savvy Accountants = Safe, Secure and Satisfied Clients

READ MORE

Level up with Windows 11

The wait is over. Windows 11 has launched today – 5th October – and if you’re on a Windows 10 PC, you are eligible for a free upgrade right now.

READ MORE

Common IT Challenges in the Accountancy Sector

From performing basic accounting functions, to automating repetitive tasks, technology is vital to improving efficiency and productivity within the accountancy sector.

READ MORE

Perfect an Accountancy IT Strategy with Document Management

The most complimentary things we hear accountants say about their practice’s Document Management system are: “It's all right” & “It does the job.” Read on to learn why and how this must change.

READ MORE

Zoom vs Teams: Tale as old as time, but is there really a winner?

Since the start of the great shift to working from home, we have all become very familiar with two essential collaboration & communication platforms: Zoom and Teams. Naturally, this has led to an obsession of pitting the two against each other in a...

READ MORE

T-Tech ranked for fourth year on Channel Futures prestigious MSP 501 list

For the fourth year running, T-Tech is delighted to be named as one of the world’s premier managed service providers in the prestigious 2021 Channel Futures MSP 501 rankings.  

READ MORE

7 common cyber security mistakes that are easily fixable

Cybercriminals and hackers are always trolling businesses. They exploit common mistakes and flaws to systems, then steal or hold the business ransom. These scenarios are increasing and at an alarming rate, so don’t let your business be an easy...

READ MORE

Your Business Magazine: 5 top tips to solve your IT headaches

In an exclusive feature for 2021's Your Business Magazine, we spill our secrets on the long-term monetary savings and gains in efficiency, when IT is handled by the right people. 

READ MORE