Why you need a change champion when implementing tools like Karbon

In my role as Senior Customer Success Manager at Karbon, I work with accounting firms all over the world to help them implement Karbon and gain ongoing value. The common link between those that get immediate buy-in from their team, and start seeing value soonest is that they appoint a Change Champion.

Getting started with any new tool can be a significant change to your accounting firm. Even though it’s for the better, it still takes work to implement across your entire team. And the impact of change to people’s well-established routines shouldn’t be overlooked.

A whole degree of your current processes will need to adapt to work in-line with your new technology solution. This is called change management.

The good news is that if you’ve done your research on selecting the right technology for your accounting practice, these changes are for the better—they’re designed to streamline output and increase productivity. 

The bad news is that with change, often comes resistance. 

Appointing a change champion is a proven way of reducing this resistance and increasing the uptake of your new tool.

What is a change champion?

Implementation champions, or change champions, are team members who volunteer or are selected to help facilitate change. It’s important that they believe in the upcoming change (or changes), understand it and champion in favour of it.

The change champion role can also be an opportunity to reward a staff member with responsibility, demonstrating your appreciation of their skills and commitment.

When introducing a new tool to your firm, it’s important that the implementation champion is involved with the initial training, dedicating more time to learning it before anyone else.

What does a change champion do?

The role of a change champion is to drive the change. When getting started with Karbon, for example, they act as the team’s first point of contact for any questions or advice. 

Rather than having several team members fielding several questions each to Karbon directly, the internal Karbon champion can assess these questions and scan for:

  • Common issues

  • Gaps in uptake

  • Opportunities for further training/ optimized usage

This way, the team stays on the same page, with the Karbon champion being the conduit between your team and Karbon itself.

This includes coordinating with all stakeholders, not just your accounting teams—say your internal IT department, for example. By doing so, they’re able to understand and represent all team members whose work is impacted by the change.

A change champion should:

  • Have a deep understanding of your firm’s needs, including staff and client needs

  • Have a deep knowledge of the current processes that you are looking to move away from

  • Be excited by the opportunities change presents

  • Not be afraid to take risks

  • Be able to be analytical about the tool/s and how your team is adopting it

  • Be passionate about, and believe in, the benefits of the changes being made

Selecting your change champion

Your implementation champion, above all, must firstly be in-favour of the change. Forcing someone to be the internal spokesperson of a system they don’t believe in is a mistake.

Other than this, consider the following criteria when selecting your implementation champion:

  1. Be tech-savvy, and ideally have experience in new software adoption—this will make sure they’re already on the frontfoot.

  2. Understanding of your accounting firm’s current operations—this will help them to ensure the implementation is well-planned across all parts of the organization.

  3. Well-respected company-wide—this will help team members cooperate with the changes that need to happen.

If you have several people in mind, consider an implementation taskforce. Collaborating on implementation strategies can streamline the process even further. 

Larger firms may find it useful to have implementation champions per department who each work together as a task force. That way they can share learnings from each department, without being stretched too thin across the organization.

If you’re considering this with Karbon, it’s still a good idea to have an overarching champion for your firm because these departments will still be sharing global settings, and having someone to advise on cross-department interactions can be useful.

Successfully implement change

No matter the scale of change that comes with implementing new technologies, managing the change is critical to minimizing the negative impact to your accounting practice, and maximizing its success.

When it’s time to consider changing tools to comprehensive options like Karbon, an implementation champion will be the key to seeing your efficiency gains and growth as quickly as possible.