Planning the year ahead: Navigating change and embracing technology

Embrace the future of accounting with this white paper, designed to empower firms to thrive in an era defined by technological change


The accounting profession is in the midst of intense change, propelled by groundbreaking technologies like automation and artificial intelligence (AI).

Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, blockchain, and cryptocurrency are reshaping traditional services and processes in accounting firms worldwide, offering unprecedented opportunities for efficiency, accuracy, and service delivery. However, they also present challenges that require adept navigation and strategic foresight.

The constant nature of change in accounting firms requires robust change leadership. Effective change leadership isn’t just about managing new software implementations or procedural updates; it involves inspiring and guiding teams through the uncertainty of transformation, ensuring that technological adoption aligns with the firm's overarching goals and values.

Today, change has become "business as usual," and the ability to lead and adapt is critical to success. Firms that excel in change leadership can implement new technologies more smoothly and better position themselves to foster a culture of innovation, agility, and continuous improvement. This culture is essential for attracting and retaining talent, satisfying clients' evolving demands, and maintaining a competitive edge in a crowded marketplace.

As we delve into the intricacies of navigating change and embracing technology within the accounting profession, this report will equip firm leaders with the insights and strategies necessary to thrive. By understanding the landscape, acknowledging the challenges, and applying effective leadership principles, firm leaders can turn the tide of change into a wave of opportunity, leading their practices into a future marked by growth, efficiency, and success.

Understanding the dynamics of change

Like many others in this digital age, the accounting profession is constantly evolving. Technological advancements, regulatory shifts, and changing client expectations drive this transformation.

Transformation is not a matter of if but when. Firms must adapt swiftly and effectively to maintain their relevance and competitive edge.

Common challenges during periods of change

Firms face numerous challenges when navigating periods of change, including:

  • Change fatigue. Continuous change initiatives can make staff feel overwhelmed, tired, and resistant to further disruptions.
  • Lack of buy-in. Without clear communication and understanding of the benefits, staff may not fully support or engage with change initiatives.
  • Changes that do not stick. Without proper implementation and follow-through, employees may not fully integrate changes into their daily practices and revert to old habits.

These challenges underscore the need for a strategic approach to change management that addresses both the logistical and human elements of transformation.

Can’t we just slow down?

Despite the challenges, pausing or delaying change initiatives is not a viable option for firms that wish to remain competitive. 

The pace of technological advancement means new tools and methodologies are constantly emerging. Firms that put off adopting these innovations risk falling behind — not just technologically but also in terms of market position and client satisfaction. 

Embracing change is not about merely keeping up with trends but about seizing opportunities to enhance service delivery, improve operational efficiency, and drive business growth.

Fortunately, automation and AI offer solutions to many challenges associated with change. By streamlining routine tasks, automation reduces the burden of manual processes, freeing professionals to focus on more strategic and advisory roles. AI, on the other hand, enhances decision making through advanced data analysis, predictive analytics, and financial forecasting. These technologies improve efficiency and accuracy and allow firms to offer more value-added services to their clients.

Understanding the dynamics of change in the accounting profession involves recognizing the inevitability of transformation, acknowledging its challenges, and leveraging technology to facilitate adaptation. For firm leaders, the path forward requires a proactive stance on change management, ensuring they can navigate the complexities of the modern business landscape with agility and resilience.

Change leadership: The key to successful transformation

As firms work toward embracing change and technological advancement, it is crucial to differentiate between change leadership and change management. 

Change management focuses on controlling and managing change processes. Change leadership goes a step further, embodying the drive and vision required to steer an organization through transformation. It's about setting a direction and inspiring and motivating people to move forward, even in the face of uncertainty.

The role of leadership in fostering a culture receptive to change

Leadership plays a crucial role in shaping an organization's response to change. Partners and managers who excel in change leadership foster a culture that is not just receptive to change but enthusiastic about it. They understand that the foundation of successful change lies in the people who execute it daily and recognize how essential it is to create an environment that supports innovation, learning, and adaptability.

Strategies for effective change leadership

Effective change leadership incorporates several crucial strategies:

  • Developing a technology roadmap. This clear, strategic plan outlines the firm's technology goals and the steps to achieve them. The firm’s technology roadmap should align with the firm’s overall strategic plan. Creating this roadmap helps firm leaders identify essential projects and decide when they need to happen based on the amount of effort and resources required and the potential impact on the firm.
  • Aligning employee goals with the firm's strategic plan. Firms should align change initiatives with their strategic objectives, and this alignment should be reflected in the goals set for individual employees. When team members see how their work contributes to the firm's success, their engagement and commitment to change increases.
  • Communicating to ensure buy-in and support. Clear, transparent, and continuous communication is vital. Leaders must articulate the "why" behind the change, connecting the need for transformation to the firm's broader goals and vision. This method helps build trust and secure buy-in from all levels of the organization.
  • Proactively identifying and addressing challenges. Anticipation and preparation are key. By identifying potential obstacles in advance, leaders can develop strategies to address these challenges before they impede progress.
  • Setting clear goals and objectives. Each technology initiative should have specific, measurable objectives that align with the firm's overall strategy. Implementing change in manageable phases can help ease the transition for employees.
  • Addressing resistance and fostering a positive attitude toward change. Resistance is a natural part of the change process. Leaders must prepare to listen to concerns, provide support, and address the root causes of resistance. Encouraging open dialogue and feedback can turn skepticism into support.
  • Empowering employees with training and development. Equip employees with the necessary skills and knowledge through training and development initiatives. This preparation sets them up for the changes ahead and empowers them to contribute effectively to the transformation process.
  • Encouraging experimentation and creativity. Leaders should create an environment where innovative thinking and experimentation are encouraged, even if they sometimes lead to failure. Acknowledging and rewarding creativity and innovation can reinforce a culture that values continuous improvement and adaptability.

According to research from McKinsey, an organization is 2.4 times more likely to achieve performance targets if it focuses on developing leaders, and transformations are five times more likely to exceed if leaders model the desired behavioral changes. 

Change leadership is more than just managing the logistics of change; it's about inspiring a collective movement toward a shared vision for the future. 

By employing these strategies, leaders can navigate their firms through the complexities of change, transforming challenges into opportunities for growth.

Practical tools and resources for navigating technological change

As firms face the challenges and opportunities of technological change, having access to the right tools and resources is crucial. Thomson Reuters offers a suite of software solutions designed to streamline tax preparation, compliance, and workflow processes. 

UltraTax CS

A comprehensive tax software solution, UltraTax CS handles your firm’s tax preparation needs. It streamlines your workflow process by eliminating manual data entry and other time-consuming tasks so you can increase productivity and profitability.

Advanced capabilities built into UltraTax CS provide greater value by increasing automation and client satisfaction.

Key features include:

  • Data sharing. When team members enter data into a client’s return, UltraTax CS populates all relevant fields in other tax returns.
  • Dynamic diagnostics. By tracking amounts entered last year but not yet entered this year, UltraTax CS provides an instant checklist, manually flags missing values, and creates a client email noting missing data.
  • Customizable watch windows. Continuously monitor selected values, such as AGI or tax due, to see how they are impacted as you change the return.
  • Tax projection worksheet. Predict how tax law changes will impact your client’s returns for the following tax year.
  • Efficient review tools. Easily communicate with other staff members working on the return by flagging important information for follow-up, using notes to confirm information, explaining specific changes, flagging tentative numbers, and indicating where more source information is needed.
  • Powerful data mining. This powerful search tool identifies advisory opportunities.
  • Comprehensive built-in asset module. Manage complex depreciation calculations and automatically transfer depreciation and asset sales information to the appropriate form.
  • Comprehensive state calculations. UltraTax CS automatically performs the full range of computations and multistate depreciation calculations for all states.
  • Advanced e-file capabilities. UltraTax CS offers the most advanced, timely, and dependable e-filing capabilities available in the tax and accounting profession. Robust e-file tools monitor each step of the process and allow you to send the client an automatic email when the IRS accepts their e-filed return.
  • Integrated e-signature capabilities. Seamlessly send your clients the forms they need to sign. Clients can review and sign their returns and other forms securely through email access or your portal.

GoSystem Tax RS

Another robust tax software solution, we’ve designed GoSystem Tax RS for firms handling complex tax scenarios, including multinational corporations. It is known for its scalability, security, and comprehensive tax compliance features. 

Highlights include:

  • Cloud-based platform. Team members can conveniently store, access, and share all data and tax applications from any location.
  • Multi-user access. Multiple users can access the same return simultaneously to concurrently handle individual tasks without disrupting others’ workflow.
  • Integration and efficiency. Our API — web services and import/export capabilities — allows for custom integration, plus integration with some products in the CS Professional Suite, K-1 Analyzer, GoFileRoom, and third-party partners, supporting a greater level of automation. 
  • Versatility. GoSystem Tax RS scales for returns containing a large amount of data and provides advanced calculations and return types.

Adopting tools like UltraTax CS and GoSystem Tax RS can significantly ease your accounting firm's transition into a more technologically advanced workflow. These platforms offer solutions to current challenges and provide a foundation for future growth and innovation. By leveraging such tools, your firm can enhance its service offerings, providing clients with more value and improving operational efficiency while reducing the time and resources spent on tax preparation.

Practice Forward

Practice Forward provides a proven roadmap your accounting firm can follow to get paid for valuable knowledge, advice, and strategies you provide to clients.

Highlights include:

  • Robust tool library. Jumpstart your advisory service journey with over 280 tools, including proposal templates, client deliverables, pricing calculators, checklists, videos, and more.
  • One-on-one consulting. Get customized coaching to implement methods to grow your firm and best serve your clients. An experienced business advisory consultant provides support and guidance, sharing best practices and personalized recommendations and holding you accountable for achieving your goals during your Practice Forward implementation journey.
  • Connect-and-learn support. Connect with forward-thinking practitioners through an online Practice Forward Group and virtual peer-to-peer roundtables. Receive ongoing support through office-hours sessions with Practice Forward consultants, CPE-qualified webinars, and Practice Forward Graduate Master Learning Series events to enhance your skills and knowledge in the field of accounting advisory services.

Firms that leverage the Practice Forward approach to serving their clients experience:

  • 133% increase in average first 12-month billing for new clients
  • 113% increase in average monthly billing for existing clients
  • 80% increase in the number of clients on recurring billings
  • 25% increase in annual revenue within the first 12 months after implementation


Change leadership and technology adoption are pivotal to the success and growth of firms of all sizes. This report has underscored the constant nature of change within the profession, driven by rapid technological advancements and shifting market demands. It has highlighted the critical role of effective change leadership in steering firms through these transformations, ensuring survival and success in a competitive environment.

Tools like Thomson Reuters UltraTax CS and GoSystem Tax RS can be essential resources for firms aiming to navigate technological change efficiently with their comprehensive solutions for tax compliance and workflow management.

The journey of embracing change and leveraging technology is not without its challenges. However, the potential rewards for increased efficiency, client satisfaction, and firm growth are immense. As your firm looks to the future, adopting advanced technologies and cultivating strong change leadership capabilities will be critical to its success.

We encourage you to view change not as an obstacle but as a pathway to growth and success. 

To learn more about how UltraTax CS or GoSystem Tax RS can serve your tax compliance and workflow needs, request a free demo today.