June 2017 - You can keep up: tech moves fast, but business doesn’t

As we profile our member base, we’re steadily learning more about each other than what makes us different. We’re learning what we have in common: our Manitoban roots and all that comes with them.

For MNP LLP, Canada’s preeminent accounting and consulting firm, a down-home Manitoba attitude has helped the business become a success story, growing from a single office to a national giant with offices coast to coast.

According to Scott Greenlay, National Director of Technology Consulting at MNP, much of the business’ success comes from a singular attitude that pervades the company – an attitude that comes from a culture of humble beginnings and promoting relationships.

“What’s really different about MNP is – you’re at the airport, sure, you’ll see our logo in our ads – but you’ll also see a coffee cup,” says Greenlay. “To me, that’s an iconic symbol that reflects our relationship-based approach. Of all the large national accounting firms, we’re the largest Canadian accounting firm, and as we like to say ‘Made in Canada’ – but it’s never been about size.

“It’s about attitude. It’s about listening; asking how people are doing, figuring out what they need, developing a relationship – that starts over a cup of coffee. When you talk about what makes MNP different, it’s that we care. We listen. We’re friendly Manitoban.”

MNP got its start in Brandon almost 60 years ago. Since then, it’s grown city by city, office by office. Recently the firm reached a milestone, crossing the threshold of 4,000 employees across the country.

Scott Greenlay’s role as National Director of Technology Consulting means he works with those employees to help Canadian organizations – publicly held, privately held or public sector – leverage technology to reach new audiences and customers, better serve existing audiences and customers, and save money while they’re at it.

“Ultimately it’s about helping businesses or governments better serve clients or taxpayers,” said Greenlay. “Whether it’s shaking out operational efficiencies or finding ways to reach customers in new and innovative ways, the work that crosses my desk is always exciting.”

The technology consulting and services Greenlay oversees for MNP include cybersecurity, application development, business analysis, data dynamics, and technology strategy.

According to Greenlay, one area seeing a lot of growth is digital transformation.

“We just merged in a company – all they do is digital transformation,” he says. “It’s about developing a different way of interacting with clients and customers and audiences. That’s what everyone’s after, lately. It’s retooling your government agency, business or department to be able and ready to leverage technology in the ways you interact with clients, taxpayers, customers – whoever.”

Greenlay adds this part of the business isn’t for the faint of heart. “We put everything we’ve learned into our work over years of operation into developing solutions for clients in such a way that people will adopt our solutions and use them.

“It’s not enough to buy a new piece of software. You have to guarantee people are going to use it. Engaging people with technology, improving interactions clients have with their clients and with your organization – there’s tremendous opportunity there.”

MNP’s clients range from provincial governments to financial institutions to non-profits and registered charities. Serving such a diverse range of organizations in a fast-moving tech world is tough. According to Greenlay, the best way to keep up is to never lose sight of the client’s core business.

“One of the secrets to strategic planning with technology is to focus on the business you serve – that doesn’t change as quickly as the technology,” says Greenlay. “Technology strategies in particular; I think people spend too much time worrying about the technology and not enough time worrying about the business behind the strategy. Don’t use technology for its own sake. Businesses don’t move that fast. Use technology for the sake of the client – help them reach new customers; serve existing customers better; find operational efficiencies in their day-to-day.

“Really what I’m saying here is ‘put the client first’. It’s timeless.”