Culture of Innovation at HK
Ask most professional service firms, and if they are brave enough to answer, they will admit they are challenged about how to truly be different than the CPA firm across town. We all feel passionately about our firms, that we offer world-class, quality services from experienced, incredible people. But we all make that claim – so how are we different?
One approach Honkamp Krueger (HK) has used is a culture of technology innovation. Led by technology partner and champion, Natalie Hoffmann, CPA.CITP, HK partners and managers strive to innovate at every level of the firm, both with streamlining processes with and for clients, and our own internal processes.
The marketing department is no exception in the expectation to innovate, so we developed an app.
Members from the partner group, marketing and IT departments developed a quick list of app ideas. We decided to focus on an app solution that benefited both clients AND employees, and one that would help alleviate an inefficient internal process. We chose to develop a mobile app for Android™ and Apple® to streamline and add innovation to HK’s Client Patronage Program, in which promote to our employees to intentionally shop at our clients.
Innovation to reality
Hoffmann led the marketing and business development teams through the process of mapping out our needs, reviewing and comparing proposals, choosing the best developers, and all of the other small but important details involved in developing your own technology.
The outsourced technology company worked closely with the HK marketing department to launch the mobile app including the branding, content, functionality and reporting systems. HK marketing worked with Apple and Google to make the application available in iTunes® and Google Play™ stores. A web-based version was also created for employees who do not use mobile apps. Finally, the HK IT department worked diligently with developers to implement the highest security measures for the app.
Overall, implementation took one year. During the launch, the HK marketing department trained all employees on the application and continues to train all new hires on the focus of the program and the mechanics of use.
With the app, employees are able to easily discover firm clients they can shop at, review detailed information about products and services, map client locations, get driving directions, submit spending amounts, and win fun prizes. Our marketing department is able to run spending reports by industry, client and employee, and provide this critical and impressive information for business development and client retention efforts.
What were the results of the app?
Results have far exceeded expectations. Receipt submission increased by 43%, employee participation increased by 47%, spending dollars increased by 50%, and manual hours spent by the marketing department decreased by 14 hours per month.
In addition, the program and the app have proven to be critical tools in the sales process of winning new retail clients and keeping current clients who are impressed by the program and appreciate the loyalty.
Finally, HK has received national recognition for the program with the January 2015 cover story of Accounting Today, an article in the November 2014 edition of INSIDE Public Accounting, a Maverick Marketing Award by the Association for Accounting Marketing, and the 2015 Innovative Practitioner of the Year award to Hoffmann by CPA.com.
Through a combination of a culture of innovation, leadership willing to provide the resources needed to develop ones own technology and hardworking, forward-thinking teams, HK was able to get a significant return on its technology investment.