To support two mergers, which saw the team grow by over 500 per cent in 18 months, DSK Partners LLP sought the help of FYI.
DSK was established in 2020 with the merger of SKCO and DS & Co, two leading South London accountancy firms. With expertise dating back to 1958, the firm now has three offices across London.
The firm went paperless in 2013, which began its journey into cloud accounting and workflows from traditional servicing and practice management.
The transition presented the opportunity for a range of value-added business development services, resulting in an ambitious, commercially-minded practice that delivers a responsive service.
Reflecting its growth and early transition to a fully digital approach, DSK recognised its need for an efficient document management system to enhance collaboration within the expanding team.
At the forefront of the industry
The firm offers a full suite of digital accounting services to clients, providing enhanced workflows and identifying opportunities for growth using real-time data.
With a team of digitisation and human capital specialists, the firm helps clients unlock the potential of DSK Tech Stack and those that use it.
The Tech Stack allows all the firm’s work to be technology-driven, and unique for its clients and staff.
As a paperless practice, DSK has already onboarded a number of cloud-based technologies, including Xero Practice Manager (XPM).
Business Development Partner, Sheetal Shah, has led the charge in adopting new technologies that help the firm better service its clients.
“Having a practice management system that’s workflow-based ties everything into collaboration. It worked so well during the pandemic when everyone was working from home.”
The main challenge facing the practice was that its existing document management system did not integrate with XPM, resulting in inefficient workflows and miscommunication.
As a desktop-based product, this crucial piece of software could not integrate with the rest of the firm’s cloud-based suite. This resulted in a far lower take up of the existing document manager post-merger than of any other tool.
The growing team, which had gone from six to 40 staff in a short amount of time, were struggling with communication as each person had a preferred system for managing their own documents.
With its technology-focused approach to client work, the firm started its research into a new solution to better deliver the benefits of digital transformation.
A standout approach
The firm had three main criteria that its new document management system needed to meet to a high standard.
Reflecting its digital-led approach, DSK recognised a need for its new system to be cloud-based and to integrate seamlessly into Xero Practice Manager.
Finally, to support its team and enable straightforward collaboration, the system needed to be simple to use.
Sheetal and his colleagues were instantly impressed with the capabilities of FYI.
He said: “We weren’t aware of FYI until we got further into our research. As an early adopter, we knew that they weren’t marketing extensively in the UK at that time.
“We approached Xero directly at their London head office, as we’ve always valued their support and the knowledge of their team.
“What really won us over to using FYI, though, was the prospect of automation further down the line. Its closest competitors, some of which had a much larger presence in the UK, just weren’t offering that on the same level.
“Now that we have it in place, it’s fantastic. Its functionality and usability is exactly what we need for our team, to keep expanding our practice and delivering what our clients need.
“Ultimately, we took the chance on using this software – and we wouldn’t change a thing!”
Upon launching FYI in April 2022, DSK also recognised that its team would need training in the software and the vision it represented to optimise workflow.
Sheetal continued: “You can have the best piece of software that integrates smoothly, but your team needs to be onboard and involved from the start.
“As a team of innovators, our people recognise great equipment when they see it, so we wanted to get everyone excited about this software. Our aim was, after six months, to have 75 per cent of our team advocating for this technology – after getting down to just five per cent with our previous system.
A new way of working
FYI went above and beyond the expectations at DSK. As well as connecting its workflows and practice management with documentation, FYI allowed the firm to communicate more effectively.
Sheetal particularly praised the new system for “bringing everything together”, putting “efficiency through the roof”.
“People have been saying since August 2022 – when the system had only been in place four months – that they can’t imagine life without it.”
“Our workflows are becoming more efficient. We’re saving about ten per cent of time on each workflow, compared to our work before FYI. At the top end, we’re completing sets of accounts – typically budgeted 20 hours – in 13-15 hours.
“It’s not just the time it takes to complete a task – it’s less chasing, fewer meetings and hitting our targets and budgets more often
One of the FYI features that the team at DSK particularly value is document commenting. With a structured workflow in place, it has allowed the practice to implement an efficient, linear approval process and enabled teams to work independently and from anywhere. Moved communications from inboxes, phones and written notes to a single place. Turning communication to collaboration.
Sheetal and his team were also thrilled with the reporting features, which deliver “clarity, visibility and ease of use.”
Employing FYI’s automation features in its tax and accounting practice, DSK was able to distribute over 500 Self-Assessment checklists and reminders at the start of the 2023/24 tax year on 1 April 2023. By the second week of May, the firm had received over 400 responses.
This number of returns would be a daunting challenge for any firm, particularly with only 40 staff members.
However, with FYI automation, the firm was able to process 75 per cent of client responses.
Sheetal said: “Ultimately, what we’ve done is standardise all our workflows and automation and created our manual resources around this.
“FYI is now built into our working practices and has integrated seamlessly with our practice management software.”
Attracting and retaining staff
Leadership at DSK have noticed a significant improvement in staff retention following the pandemic, supported by its use of FYI.
“No one wants to work anywhere else,” said Sheetal. “FYI have provided our team with the tools they need to succeed and work efficiently. They’re freed up to add value to clients and pursue new, innovative ideas.
Implementing FYI has also allowed the team to increase the amount of time spent on client-facing, billable work – now up to 75 per cent.
“Not forgetting the real financial benefit to being able to take on more advisory, client-driven work, there’s the motivational element, too. It gives us the opportunity to upskill our team. Our team members can continue to learn, gain a wider variety of experiences and shape their careers.”
The stamp of approval
Sheetal concluded: “We absolutely love FYI. It’s reliable and, on the rare occasions when there’s been a problem, they are transparent and great at communicating.
“Our experience with integrating FYI was very linear, and I would recommend this approach to anyone looking work with them. This give you time to obtain regular feedback from your team.
“Listening to your team is the most important thing when it comes to large-scale operational changes. We listened, and found the perfect solution that our team could get behind.
“Keeping it simple and making it easy for everyone in the organisation lets you concentrate on your training – the ‘why’ of it all will come out of this.”
“When making a switch like this, it’s always the hardest to on-board those with the most experience. They’re the experts and have been working for decades in a certain way. But you know that when those people are on board – as they are with us – that you’ve got the right solution for your team.”
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