To continue the Small Business Webinar Series, Brad D. Smith Schools of Business hosted Business Re-imagined: Utilizing Cloud Technology to Improve Performance webinar on Monday, June 28.
The purpose of the webinar, presented by Timothy Bryan, assistant professor of accounting, and Shayna Chapman, chief strategist at Shaynaco, was to provide information about building a cloud system and the benefits while managing a business after a pandemic.
According to GCF Global using “the cloud” means to use the stored servers on the internet instead of a computer’s hard drive. The term that is also referred to as cloud computing or cloud storage, means to use web-based email services, file storage or sharing, web applications, image editing application, Google Docs or to back up data.
In an hour timeframe, both accounting professionals addressed struggles during the pandemic, the process of change, and what cloud programs can provide for both the employee and the client.
“We have to change what we are doing so we can unlock our minds, attitudes and action so that we can then change our hope for values and practices,” Bryan said. “Change will never ever be as slow as it is today.”
Bryan starts his presentation by explaining Kurt Lewin’s change model. Bryan restates Lewin’s work by saying the first steps into changing is to mentally unfreeze, change group values and to refreeze at a new level. He then uses Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises,” to quote the process of change, “Two ways: gradually and suddenly.”
“For change to occur, the pain of not changing has to be greater than the pain of changing,” Bryan said. “We are so stuck in our ways that to force a change we have to feel like it is worse off for us not to change than to change.”
Bryan said that all types of businesses experienced a change during the pandemic.
The Harvard Business Review released research in May 2021 that 70% of businesses plan on the hybrid shift to be permanent. The research shows that there was a lack of culture inclusion and the pre-pandemic work from home employee’s had lower promotion rates.
“We need to be concerned about [culture]. I think you are seeing that most businesses are not connected to 100% hybrid. You have to actively pursue activities within the culture,” Bryan said.
Bryan that having virtual staff in workplace does not matter—besides the sales associated—and that the team can still be managed effectively. He said that the pandemic was not the first time he has used remote work.
Over 20 years ago, Bryan had an employee—a mother of 2 high schoolers—that lived 30 minutes away from the office. She missed several school events due to work and Bryan decided to organize a way for her to work at home—to successfully complete her job requirements and continue to support her children. Bryan’s business partners were concerned about how he would be able to hold the employee accountable.
“I told them it going to be easy. If she is not getting the work done in the same amount of time she was in the past—she is not doing her job as well. As it turned out, she got things done quicker and our clients loved it because we wider, as in geographically,” Bryan said. “It doesn’t matter if she’s in the office, what matters is her issue communicating with our clients. We have to change our mindset of what our performance measure associates with it.”
Chapman, a Marshall alumna that was named—twice—one of the Most Powerful Women in Accounting by CPA Practice Advisor twice, said that her own firm uses and highly recommends the Microsoft program.
“You can communicate instantly in one button and if that isn’t good enough you can hit a button and do what we are doing right now—a meeting,” Chapman said.
Chapman said that last week she was able to be in Florida—compared to her typical work setting in Ohio—and still submitted a full week of work while being remote. She said she enjoys the flexibility of remote working, but that is also allows a paperless and more organized workspace.
“This all ultimately leads to a competitive edge,” Chapman said. “Don’t let your accounting system hold you back.”
Chapman provided several cloud programs but says that all businesses are different, and every company should take the time to find one. Some program recommendations are Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, Paychex, Clio, Patriot software, Slack and Shopify.
Xena Bunton can be contacted at [email protected]