When you recommend a technology platform to your clients, you’re placing utmost trust in it and vouching for its effectiveness.
Any tech platforms you recommend have likely proven able to fill a gap at your practice, hopefully bringing new ways of working and delivering efficiencies.
Often there is a specific need not being met by software packages already in use, leaving room for a new platform. For example, Joiin solves the problem of how to consolidate multi-entity data, bringing a wealth of powerful features to ease this very specific, highly complex, time-consuming, and potentially error-prone task.
Any new technology is undoubtedly a big decision for you and the stakeholders at your accounting firm, which you want to get right.
But how do you get to a position where you’re comfortable recommending a new platform to your clients, safe in the knowledge that they’ll reap the benefits it can deliver? A wrong turn could mean your reputation and your practice are on the line.
This article provides a straightforward overview of what to look out for when assessing a tech platform’s trustworthiness. It includes sections on data protection, security measures, collaborative features, added-value reporting, and supplier ethos. So you can fulfil your role as a trusted advisor and confidently recommend platforms to your clients.
Data protection from the get-go
How you initially connect to a new technology platform is an excellent place to start.
Trusted platforms like Xero use something called Oauth2 to establish a highly secure link between their software and another – it is an industry standard and something to look for in technology you can trust.
Our Joiin platform uses Oauth2 as it needs to first connect with your accounting software, such as Xero, to access and then consolidate your data.
With Joiin and Xero as an example: using the Oauth2 workflow, our platform would request access to your software and its data – the extent you would need to approve before anything goes further. The workflow involves authorisation via time-limited codes and would result in Joiin being able to access some of your Xero data.
One of our trust-building initiatives at Joiin is always to stress that our platform only requests ‘read only’ access, which means we only take the required amount of data to perform our consolidation task. We cannot change your data at its source.
Questions to consider: How would any new platform establish a secure connection with our existing software, and what data access would it require?
What to look out for: Standards like Oauth2 authorisation and ‘read only’ access.
Best practice security measures
Platforms like Xero are ‘multi-tenant apps’ – meaning multiple people will use the software. Their data exists within its single system but is partitioned into different accounts. An underlying infrastructure pulls the single system together as one.
Think of it as a plush apartment block where lots of people live. There’s top-notch security at the entrance (as we’ve already described above with Oauth2). But once in, everyone has an apartment with secure access, while communal facilities make the property more desirable, such as premium safety systems.
Joiin is also a multi-tenant app. It uses a two-factor authentication (2FA) process when you want to get into your account – the kind of sign-in you likely trust elsewhere.
Our platform sits on rock-solid Amazon Web Service (AWS) servers – a global leader in the market – with an underlying infrastructure that includes a wealth of shared security layers that are built-in to AWS, meeting thousands of global compliance initiatives.
Questions to consider: How has the platform been built, and what kind of security does it have?
What to look out for: Layers of security such as 2FA and trusted hosting like AWS.
While data security remains a top consideration, you don’t always want to lock everyone out.
There will be instances when you want to let people in – such as colleagues and clients you want to share information with across a technology platform you’re using in your practice.
Being able to share information builds trust between you and your clients, but what should you expect from today’s technology platforms?
Most modern-day platforms should let you define and manage permissions and access levels, such as who can look at specific information on a platform and what they can then do with that information. Often found in a platform’s settings, permissions and access levels add a basic extra layer of teamwork.
But suppose you require a richer experience that encourages a greater sense of partnership between you and your clients and feel that your clients could benefit from this. In that case, you should look for specific features which support the level of collaboration you need.
Our Joiin platform includes a multi-client feature – which lets you manage multiple distinct clients under one Joiin subscription. With the feature enabled, your clients can access and see data and reports in a secure area accessible only to them and you. Access to data and information is protected – we only pull data as authorised by an authenticated user at your end.
Questions to consider: What collaborative features are in place, and how will these benefit our clients?
What to look out for: Basic permissions and access, as well as advanced features such as Joiin’s multi-client.
Regular, robust, and accurate real-time digital reporting breeds confidence between a practice and its clients. And because new technology platforms treat data as a dynamic asset – and not statically confined to spreadsheet fields – you can automate the delivery of quick update reports or more comprehensive report packs, so these continuously flow and add value to your clients.
As well as automation, our Joiin platform offers a robust suite of digital reporting that includes pre-built templates which you can easily use with existing data. Such templates take the strain out of monthly consolidated group reporting while clawing back vital time to focus on more advisory work with your clients. These reports can also form an integral part of Joiin’s multi-client feature.
Using digital reporting to build a more incredible rapport with your clients and encourage collaboration is a compelling strategic argument for implementing any new technology platform.
Questions to consider: How can digital reporting add value to our client relationships and help us to build a stronger bond with them?
What to look out for: Digital reporting capabilities, such as report packs and pre-built templates, as well as automation features.
At Joiin, we take pride in being a team that works with our customers to deliver what they need and achieve mutual success.
Here’s an example: we proactively ask people what features they want and how they can improve. We gather feedback via customer support initiatives such as support tickets, emails, chats, and webinars. We then work closely with customers to deliver a product that has their needs at its core. To date, we have delivered nearly 300+ product updates – driven purely by customer requests.
We believe a collaborative and partnership ethos should be at the core of any new technology platform. How else could a platform survive?
Questions to consider: What’s the ethos behind the platform and its team, and how will they work with us?
What to look out for: Proactive collaboration, such as customer support and webinars, and a product roadmap involving you.
At Joiin, we appreciate the complexities of the B2B2C market in which we operate. We must meet your needs and build confidence in us, encouraging you to trust us and our platform. At the same time, we aim to give you the tools to convince your customers that our platform is right for them also, but only when you're ready to do so.
We hope this article has gone some way to start convincing you. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like to discuss anything further with one of the team.
Joiin are an official ICAS Evolve partner, who can help you to manage your multi-entity and multi-currency group consolidations, creating great looking financial reports and management reporting packs from your Xero, Quickbooks, Sage, and Excel Data.
ICAS member firms can try Joiin for free.
This blog is one of a series of articles from our commercial partners.
The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of ICAS.