What Does Innovation Mean to Canadian Accountants and Bookkeepers – with Sean Duffy at Elevate by Welch

At Dext, our mission is to empower accounting and bookkeeping professionals to build the next generation of businesses across the globe. To do this, we provide industry insights from our community of partners on critical items that allow us to help your firm achieve long-term success. 

For this 4 Part Innovation in Accounting series, we spoke with Sean Duffy, Senior Manager, Accounting Solutions at Elevate by Welch, about his experience driving and delivering results through innovation. We understand that innovation is more than a buzzword. This is the reason why we wanted to highlight a true success story of someone who has embraced innovation, specifically in the accounting field, and has made it a mission to craft an internal company culture that fosters it. 

In this interview, we asked Sean to discuss his experience driving innovation and delivering results with his global firm. Here’s what Sean shared about what innovation means for Canadian accountants and bookkeepers:

How would you define innovation in the accounting and bookkeeping industry? 

Sean Duffy: In Canada, anytime we speak of innovation in the accounting and bookkeeping industry, we are speaking of how to optimize time and resources. Innovation is a way to increase efficiency so that you can spend less money doing more work. Innovation within the accounting and bookkeeping industry means always finding new ways to improve your operations with limited resources. 

One example of innovation that could be used in Canadian accounting and bookkeeping environments is a solution for generating accurate reports in a timely manner. Reporting is the backbone of finance departments across North America – they are what ties everything together from cost management to schedules, budgets, forecasts, etc., but one thing most small and medium businesses lack is a comprehensive out-of-the-box reporting solution. 

How do you shift a culture from “yes, but” to “yes, and”? 

Sean Duffy: What does it take for those innovative, creative, and resilient thinkers inside an organization to be able to contribute to a company’s success? How do you make innovation part of the organizational culture? And how can accounting professionals lead the way in making this happen? 

There are a number of ways to innovate, and the definition isn’t always clear. But the general idea is to disrupt the status quo – think about something that’s been done one way for years,  and then come up with a clever new way of doing it. 

We want to become an innovative organization. How do we get there? 

Sean Duffy: We often think that it is the people with fancy degrees, lab coats, or the latest gadgets that create change. However, innovation can come from anyone and any department. In fact, it often happens when two different departments come together and re-imagine how something can be done. Once they connect, they realize that they’re not as different as they thought and then are able to work together to build a new way of thinking.

This is very much the case with tech innovations, where two people in a company who never interacted before are suddenly working together to create something really great – all because of a connection made through innovation. 

Who is it most important to identify as a partner in innovation? 

Sean Duffy:  While it is great to have those people already in your company who are naturally creative and innovative, the real power lies within the people who are not as readily identified as innovators.  

The real shift comes from the ones that you would say “they don’t fit” into an innovative category  – they might be that person who is extremely detail-oriented but loves to perform well beyond their job requirements. Sometimes, these people get tired of being put in a box that they aren’t comfortable with and decide to Shift what they know and what their company knows about them. 

What are the benefits of innovating? (both at the firm and the client level) 

Sean Duffy: Picture this: a Canadian bookkeeper is sitting at their desk going through the day’s emails and tasks. Suddenly, they have an epiphany, and think of a way to save their clients time or money.  It takes a little more time but once it’s done, they don’t have to do it again for that client – it will be “automated.” There are also more clients who could benefit from the new process – so the  Canadian bookkeeper has just innovated! 

Innovation is an integral part of any business and allows Canadians to be competitive in today’s global environment. 

Innovation allows canadian accountants and bookkeepers to:

-Discover Cost savings, such as time and money spent on manual processes. 

-Take advantage of new technology to increase efficiency and improve the bottom line. 

-Increase the ability to take advantage of changing market conditions. 

Accounting and bookkeeping have evolved to become easier, faster, and more informative for their clients. Canadian business owners should ensure that their bookkeeping and accounting services are provided by professionals who are knowledgeable in the field. 

Canadian bookkeepers can ensure that they provide services that meet their clients’ needs by providing a  professional, knowledgeable service at a competitive rate. 

How do you embrace technology and innovation at Welch? 

Sean Duffy: The term “innovation” is widely used in the business world but is not always well understood. We define innovation as a process that leads to new or improved services or products that are more appropriate to customer needs. The result of this process is often a transformation from a  competitive firm to an industry leader. 

Building on its history as one of Canada’s first accounting firms fully computerized and online, Welch LLP has been innovating ever since. 

Innovation is about looking at things differently. We are sure you can understand the value that innovation provides, particularly if you consider this. 

Imagine the potential for innovation if we spent less time protecting our current business models and more time experimenting with new ideas and new approaches to work? This is what Welch is committed to. 

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