By Zulaikha Nurain

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for digital transformation. Many organisations, including Small and Medium Practices (SMPs), are embracing digitalisation to manage their clients and employees remotely.

In a recent webinar on Leading a Digital Transformation Journey in Your Practice for the SMPs, organised by the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA), the Institute’s CEO, Dr Nurmazilah Dato’ Mahzan emphasised the importance of digital transformation to ensure organisations remain relevant and are in line with the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint and MyDigital initiative launched by the government in March 2021.

“Many SMEs are going digital. SMPs as their financial advisors must do the same to keep up,” said Dr Nurmazilah during her welcome remarks. “SMPs can refer to the MIA Digital Technology Blueprint, which outlines how public practices can adopt technology to retain, reimagine and innovate their practices and services. The MIA Digital Technology Blueprint 3-year operational plan calls for 39 initiatives with more than 200 activities and outputs. Our recent achievements for SMPs include the MPERS e-book, MIA e-library and”

As technology continues to grow and new innovations emerge, how can SMPs determine if they are ready to embrace digital transformation?

MIA has carried out research in this area and has identified the Digital Competency Maturity Model (DCMM), developed by the European Federation of Accountants and Auditors for SMEs (EFAA) as a suitable tool to meet such a need. The tool, which was presented by Paul Thompson, Director of the EFAA during the webinar, allows SMPs to rate their current level of maturity on digital competency, develop a strategy and identify the resources they need to achieve this transformation.

“Digital adoption is about making our practices future ready, diversifying our service offerings, attracting and retaining the right talent, and also digitalising our work,” said Paul Thompson during his presentation.

Highlights of Paul Thompson’s recommendations to SMPs include:

The presentation was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Lim Fen Nee, Chair of the Digital Technology Implementation Committee (DTIC) at MIA, and joined by Paul Thompson, Dato’ Lock Peng Kuan, Managing Partner, Audit and Assurance, Baker Tilly Malaysia and Mahathir Mahzan, Member of the DTIC Public Practice Working Group, MIA.

The panellists discussed the importance of understanding the needs of the SMP before adopting new technology, and the need to be strategic in choosing the right systems.

“Big and complex technologies can sometimes mean inefficient, and small, simpler systems can be beautiful as well,” explained Dato’ Lock Peng Kuan. It is all about the assessment of what technology and systems work for the SMPs. They must identify what they need instead of competing to adopt the latest technology in every aspect of the operation, which may lead to unnecessary cost.”

Mahathir Mahzan further added, “As practitioners, we need to realise that digital transformation and technology adoption is a number one priority and necessary for us to survive. As accounting professionals, the timeliness and quality of financial information and advice we provide to our clients can be enhanced by the adoption of technology.”

Some key points from the discussion include:

The panel concluded that before any transformation process can begin, public practices must be able to assess their current digital competency and identify areas for improvement.

The DCMM can be accessed here and for any enquiries on the tool, please email [email protected].

Zulaikha Nurain is Manager of the Strategic Communication & Branding, Malaysian Institute of Accountants

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