News & Views
Amstrong Watson chooses Repstor
Top-30 UK business advisory and accounting firm, Armstrong Watson () has gone live with the Repstor for Accounting suite from Microsoft 365-based information management specialist, Repstor (www.repstor.com).
Armstrong Watson, which employs 440 people across 16 offices from the M62 to Glasgow and on both sides of the Pennines, provides services spanning accountancy, cloud accounting, audit, tax, payroll, corporate finance, financial planning, forensic accounting, corporate restructuring and insolvency.
During the pandemic, its clients have needed more tailored support which Armstrong Watson partners and teams have had to provide remotely. When the first pandemic lockdown struck in March 2020, demand for video calls and collaboration via Teams went through the roof. This caused Armstrong Watson to bring forward plans to migrate to Office 365, a decision which introduced some challenges with, the firm’s existing document management system.
“Accessing some of the new functionality, including co-authoring support, would have meant a significant integration burden,” explains Toby Woodhead, Head of Technology at Armstrong Watson. “From day one, Repstor has enabled our people to access client records, documents, audit trails and calculations from anywhere, so we’ve been able to keep providing a continuous service to our clients,” Toby says. “What’s more, due to the pandemic, I didn’t have to convince users of the switch. Never before have I witnessed such a desire in a firm to adopt new technology.”
A strategic technology advisor recommended Repstor as a means to enable comprehensive remote working, with full compliance controls over email, document filing and Teams use. “I googled Repstor, made contact the same day and within a week we were talking commercials,” says Woodhead.
“We did a quick review of other potential solutions, but Repstor offered us everything we needed – including a strategic step change in our ability to do business, which DMS vendors couldn’t match. Crucially too, Repstor was harnessing our investment in Microsoft 365 and SharePoint,” he adds.
Following a rapid and comprehensive proof of concept, Repstor introduced partner Transform Data to help with data migration from the old document management system to SharePoint, the firm’s new default content store.
Ultimately, Repstor for Accounting will serve as a complete client engagement management system. Already, the ability to work seamlessly from home means Armstrong Watson’s professionals can engage with the MDs of busy companies on their personal accounting at 8am, before they themselves start work.
“This opens up new business opportunities. I can honestly say we’re seeing seismic ramifications from our decision to transform the way we work. When I wrote my board report for the last year, I described this as the biggest step for Technology in the firm for ten years, since we moved our servers into a data centre. For users, everything is just seamless: it just works and is there for them in Outlook. They can take advantage of important capabilities like co-authoring, too. Another Repstor benefit is the ability to work on- and offline, so if someone is in a rural area where broadband is weak they can download a document, continue working on it, and then re-synchronise it later when they’re back online,” continues Woodhead.
“From an IT perspective,” says Woodhead. “We’re leaps and bounds ahead with our ambitions for Teams, which will soon become a central hub that we’ll all work from. After that we’ll add client access to a SharePoint portal, for secure external collaboration. The sky is the limit for users then: we’ll be able to use all of the exciting new technology Microsoft is giving us, and have more of a ‘project teams’ focus, giving our people a chance to get deeper into our client engagements.”
Armstrong Watson also plans to make use of advanced Microsoft 365 features such as PowerAutomate for automating document approval workflows in SharePoint, and the systemized production of documents from blocks of data, which will enable substantial cost savings and productivity gains.