Kendons Scott MacDonald was established in the 1920s, and is headquartered in Christchurch, New Zealand. Serving more than 4,000 clients across industries in business advisory, accounting, and tax, Kendons is on a mission to “empower and safeguard success.”
Businesses that are well-established often experience slow adoption of new technology – especially when it needs to be implemented across a large and diverse client base.
Christchurch-based Kendons Scott MacDonald has been no exception to this rule. In business for more than 90 years, the firm specialises in serving small and medium sized businesses throughout New Zealand in tax, accounting, and business advisory.
“With an older firm comes staff who tend to stay for life,” says Kendons Director Ian Morkel. “When it comes to new cloud technologies, we can say, ‘Sure, we adopted Xero ten to twelve years ago when it was just launching', but the adoption wasn’t that rapid because of how large our staff is. It’s only really been in the last five years that Kendons has implemented Xero and other technologies among a large client base.”
Pre-established processes have made the cloud transition slow, but the firm has been making a serious push to find the right solutions over the last last five years.
“Right now, we’re finding the technologies or apps we are using are helping us with our advisory services and to grow that arm as well, as a natural progression,” notes Kate Bennett, Business Advisor with Kendons Scott MacDonald. “As we put in the research, we’ve learned that new technologies or software solutions were often met with hesitation or a lack of buy-in.”
One of the biggest issues from staff has been the need to see success of a technology with clients before embracing the new ideas. On the client side, Kendons found that advisors could show new software to a client, and have them express interest, but not actually adopt it due to time constraints or a learning curve.
Xero’s acquisition of Hubdoc in 2018, coupled with Hubdoc’s expansion into New Zealand later that year, led the Kendons team to assess the software as part of its technology stack. Ultimately, they decided to implement Hubdoc, but have experienced slow adoption among staff and clients, due in part to the same roadblocks that drew out similar changes at the firm.
With the goal of implementing Hubdoc to help streamline document collection and accounts payable for their clients, a new system was needed to help get buy in from both clients and staff.
With so many applications available to Xero partners, Kendons created a team responsible for product development, who were meant to continually assess existing systems and service offerings and try to find technology that could improve and recreate processes.
“It’s actually thanks to this app team that we came across Hubdoc,” adds Ian. “As a Xero partner, the app team thought it was good to attend Xerocon every year to learn about new technologies and solutions to problems. Well, in 2018, Xero had just purchased Hubdoc and was rolling out in New Zealand. So, we had to learn about it, and decided it was a great fit.”
This interest in Hubdoc led to Kendons being one of the first firms in New Zealand to implement the software. Despite the app team's due diligence in researching Hubdoc, the firm experienced several issues typical at a large firm when they introduced it to staff and clients.
“The problem for a lot of accounting firms, and Kendons was no exception, is time,” says Ian. “We simply didn’t have the time to roll out Hubdoc to all our clients right away. Despite our app team seeing a ton of value, it was slow due to our perceptions about our work and the time investment it would take for each client.”
Even without a substantial rollout to Kendons’ 4,000 clients, more than 200 have adopted Hubdoc to some extent, and that number has been steadily growing.
“We started with Hubdoc for [auto-fetching] bank statements, which was a huge win for us,” notes Kate. “This quickly evolved into realising Hubdoc did much more. Many of our clients using Hubdoc immediately started managing accounts payable through the software. So, there was a win for us, and a win for the client. We’re able to provide better information to our clients because of the Hubdoc and Xero connection, based on quality data.”
The realisation that informed clients would take advantage of the full suite of Hubdoc features led the Kendons team to implement an ingenious extra step to their technology assessment: teaching staff.
The steady, but positive Hubdoc rollout at Kendons Scott MacDonald, and the slow adoption of Xero in the past, helped the firm understand the most efficient method for adopting new technologies wasn’t just an assessment team, but also an employee dedicated to teaching new software to staff, and more importantly, to clients.
The new staff member has helped Kendons ramp up their Hubdoc rollout, so that an average of five clients per week are being trained in the software, and are benefitting from Kendons’ combination of Hubdoc and Xero.
Kendons also attributes their implementation success to Hubdoc and Xero's team: "Working with Hubdoc staff has been great. There’s a learning curve with any new software, but our Hubdoc account manager has consistently been available, and has been a tremendous asset as we continue our transition to a fully Hubdoc-enabled firm," says Kate.
“Over time, within the firm and among the client base, the awareness of Hubdoc will grow,” adds Ian. “It’s like a rising tide, and I think it will be similar to our adoption of Xero: it took a long time to get all staff buy-in and then have that translate into client adoption, but then suddenly everyone was using it and seeing great benefits.
The results have already started pouring in across Kendons. The diligent efforts put forth by educational staff have resulted in recent buy-in from accountants and directors across the firm. This has helped create a technology snowball, wherein more staff have seen the benefits of the technology, speeding up the rollout to clients.
Kate adds that it’s better to give all clients Hubdoc if they use Xero. “With the two, we are gathering accurate data from the Hubdoc and Xero integration, which allows us to provide better business advice to our clients – and that’s really what it’s all about!”