What Is Agile? & How Can Your Accounting Firm Benefit?

What is agile?

Agile is a set of values, principles and practices traditionally used for software development that emphasise iterative and incremental delivery, timely responsiveness to change, close collaboration between business stakeholders and self-organising teams, and continuous learning.
Essentially, agile is about getting things done in a more efficient, practical and iterative way. It was first formalised in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development in 2001 and has since been adopted by organisations across various industries worldwide.

How is agile used in accounting?

There are several ways in which agile can be used in accounting, depending on the business’s specific needs. Some common examples include:

  • Using an agile approach to budgeting and forecasting – this can help businesses be more responsive to market changes and better adapt their budgets and forecasts accordingly
  • Adopting an agile financial reporting methodology allows for more timely and accurate reporting
  • Applying agile principles to audit and assurance processes
  • Applying agile principles to collaborative work
  • Using agile methods for project management of accounting initiatives such as system implementations or process improvements
  • Adopting an agile approach to regulatory compliance by rapidly responding to changes in regulations
  • Developing an agile mindset within the accounting team – This can help businesses to be more flexible and responsive in their decision-making

How can your accounting firm benefit from agile?

Accounting firms that adopt agile methods can expect to see numerous benefits, such as:

  • Efficient and effective delivery of accounting services as agile provides a framework for teams to deliver quality services that meet clients’ ever-changing needs
  • Improved collaboration between accounting and other teams
  • Improved responsiveness to change and ability to rapidly adapt to changing business needs
  • A better understanding of client needs and improved communication by utilising a collaborative approach to working with clients and other teams
  • Greater accuracy in budgeting and forecasting
  • A culture of continuous learning and development
  • Responsive and effective regulatory compliance process. By rapidly responding to changes in regulations, an agile approach can help accounting firms to maintain compliance
  • Streamlined and efficient accounting processes

How do you implement agile in your accounting firm?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the specific needs of your firm will dictate the best way to implement agile. However, there are some common steps that firms can take to start adopting an agile approach:

  1. Educate yourself and your team on what agile is and how it can be used in accounting.
  2. Assess your firm’s current accounting processes and identify areas where an agile approach could be beneficial.
  3. Work with your team to develop a plan for how you will implement agile in your firm.
  4. Pilot a few agile methods or processes in your firm to see how they work in practice.
  5. Evaluate the results of your pilot and make adjustments as necessary.
  6. Roll out agile methods more broadly across your firm.
  7. Monitor and review your firm’s progress in using agile methods to ensure they are effective and continuously improve your processes.

In conclusion, agile accounting is a value-based, people-centric approach, which agile methodologies are particularly well-suited for. As the business world continues to move at a faster pace, the need for agility in all aspects of business is likely to become even more important. By being open to change and rapidly adapting and responding to change, agile accounting teams can provide a competitive advantage to their firms.

How soon will you onboard your team?