Archive for the ‘Paperless’ Category

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

The Old Way Comes Back As The New Way

Many of you can remember when we had paper “in boxes” on our desks. We also had “out boxes”. Mail, memos, and other miscellaneous communication documents were placed in our in-box by our secretary (remember that word?). The same person emptied our out-box and distributed our notes, memos and job assignments to the proper person within the firm.

Often the in-box contained items that we would place in a “do it later pile.” That pile on our desk could attain dangerous heights.

Then, many of us learned how to handle each piece of paper that came into our office mostly via the in-box. The trick was to only handle it once – not to put it in a stack with other things we intended to deal with later. Concerning each document we were to Act, File, Delegate or Trash – no “deal with it later” labels were allowed.

Now we are in the age of handling the multitude of items that appear in our digital in-box. In a recent article via Fast Company, Brad Smith, CEO of Intuit, sums up his email approach as “read, act, file or delete.” By limiting his options he is able to clear his in-box daily without the help of an assistant. Smith notes, “It requires real commitment.”

If the CEO of Intuit can master his in-box, I bet you can do it, too!

Another option is NOT TO SEND many emails and thus, you will receive fewer in reply.

Here’s another email comment from Simon Sinek. “A five minute call replaces the time it takes to read and reply to the original email and read and reply to their reply.. or replies. And I no longer spend 20+ minutes crafting the perfect email – no need to.”

To avoid phone tag, I always make telephone appointments with people who wish to discuss things with me.

 

  • Social media presents an opportunity for business people to connect and know each other prior to a phone call or email taking place.
  • Jeffrey Gitomer

Monday, November 28th, 2016

Let Your Admin Do the E-file Tracking

sample-form-8879Sometimes, inside busy CPA firms, partners and managers do too much of what the admin team should be doing (led by a qualified firm administrator).

Sometimes, inside busy CPA firms, if you have the right admin team, they can do so much more than mindless, routine duties.

If you do not have the right admin team, that’s your fault.

E-filing (and tracking the e-filing) is a great example. When it is their responsibility, they take it very seriously and are sticklers for following policy.

Here’s what some experienced firm administrators had to say when asked about their e-file tracking process:

Sarah Galley, Firm Administrator, Pohlman & Talmage CPAs, Inc.

Our admin is responsible for this process. They ensure we receive the signed 8879 forms back and then they file the returns. We track these using GoFileRoom. If we are having trouble getting an 8879 form back they track the client down. We try to keep the partner out of it.

Tammy Boring, Firm Administrator, Snyder & Company

Our admin staff does all of our e-filing of both returns & extensions. We use GoFileRoom, so all of our due date monitoring is done through there.

Karen Farino, Firm Administrator, Pasquesi Sheppard, LLC

Efiling the tax returns is done by the partner. Extensions are e-filed by partners and staff. Our admin staff releases tax returns to e-file once 8879s are received, then they check for the acceptance. Extensions are also checked by admin staff for acceptance. Everything is tracked in CCH Practice. We rely on the information in CCH and have never had a problem. We also check the e-file system for rejections and any returns that are in the e-file system but haven’t been released just to make sure.

  • Accuracy builds credibility.
  • Jim Rohn

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Association For Accounting Administration Paperless Survey – Due Friday!

Every year the Association for Accounting Administration conducts a survey assessing the evolving trends in paperless operations inside CPA firms.

Attention, firm administrators and other AAA members – the cut-off for participating in the survey is Friday, December 19th. Here is the link for the survey.

AAA Vice President, Jim Fahey, shares why it is important and has an idea on how to deliver returns in a paperless manner. Be sure to watch until the end!

  • You haven't seen a tree until you have seen its shadow from the sky.
  • Amelia Earhart

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Improving the Culture Inside Your Busy CPA Firm

Gary Boomer, is that you with Rita?Many CPAs ask me, “How can we actually improve our culture?” or “How can we really make things better for our staff while still providing great client service and meeting government deadlines?”

Of course, tax season is one of the most challenging times. If you can make the work environment better during January thru April, you would be a firm where impressive, young talent would stay and build their careers.

That’s why I like a recent article by Gary Boomer in Accounting Today. Well, I like all of Boomer’s articles but this one caused me to reminisce about many of the things I worked on when I was working inside a busy, growing firm.

Boomer talks about the “after tax season review,” assessing what went right and what went wrong. We did it faithfully every April and compiled a list of things to change, improve or tweak. The secret? We made sure that we did actually implement…. we changed, improved and tweaked continually. It was part of our culture.

Here’s Boomer’s 10 Way You Can Make Next Tax Season Better:

  1. Schedule client appointments in advance.
  2. Scan and organize client data into a digital file.
  3. Utilize a digital workflow system.
  4. Implement one-way workflow and avoid loops. You do not have to send work back for training purposes.
  5. Review returns on a timely basis.
  6. Grade preparers on each return to drive out errors at the lowest cost.
  7. Bill and collect with the return.
  8. Reduce cycle time to increase profits.
  9. Utilize portals for aggregation of client data and the delivery of returns.
  10. Utilize a technology surcharge to achieve a return on your IT investment.

How many of the 10 are you doing? Read the entire article here.

  • Providing the right services to the right clients is very important.
  • Gary Boomer

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

The Agony of Decisions Inside Your Accounting Firm

As CPA firms grow, things need to change.

When you have 2 – 5 partners (owners) and a firm administrator involved in the decision-making activities, these people become used to being involved in  every operational/management decision. You have probably heard the old example that has circulated in CPA management conferences for years about it taking 5 partners and several meetings to decide on what copier (or printer) to purchase.

I can even remember when we would form a committee with partners, staff people and administrative people to research and decide on the best copier to purchase!

Did all those people want to be involved?  Yes and no. Some owners want their stamp of approval on everything but most people just don’t want the blame for a poor decision falling on their shoulders alone. It’s almost comical and the old adage, “no decision, is a decision” applies.

Thank goodness those types of routine decisions about the operational side of the firm have been placed in the hands of a professional firm administrator who navigates the partner political waters efficiently.

But, there are an ever-increasing number of more complex decisions that face firms in the current, rapidly-changing business world. Technology is just one example.  There are still many firms, although they say they are a digital firm and all work is reviewed “on screen,” allow one or two partners to continue to operate “the old-fashioned” way.

Performing client engagements has moved so far beyond reviewing on screen (or not). Progressive firms are moving to virtual services. Auditors do not have to travel to a client site and sit in a conference room (or in some cases a store room) to perform the audit.

Going forward, it’s going to take experts in HR, technology and practice growth sitting at the decision-making table and a group of owners who will respect decisions made by others.

Check back tomorrow for more about making decisions.

  • I must have a prodigious amount of mind; it takes me as much as a week, sometimes, to make it up.
  • Mark Twain

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

The MBWA 8

I have written and spoken about Management By Wandering Around for years. It is still such an important message for CPAs. I learned about it from Tom Peters and he says he learned it years ago from a Hewlett-Packard management practice.

This Fall, during my presentations and workshops, I have again been stressing the need for CPA partners (and managers) to get out of their office and BE VISIBLE, BE ACCESSIBLE.

People will ask you questions and actually tell you things (about what’s really going on inside your firm) if you make yourself available.

It doesn’t take a lot of time! Just use the MBWA 8.

MBWA 8

 

  • Do one thing every ay that scares you
  • Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, November 4th, 2013

A Monday Morning Look At Your Office (Or Cube)

It’s Monday, the week is new, fresh, and full of promise. No pressing due dates this week. Maybe, just maybe, you will have time to CLEAN UP YOUR OFFICE.

I love those signs that the admin team at your CPA firm post in the kitchen or break room: Your mother doesn’t work here. Clean up your own mess!

I’ve heard it for years and years…. “Bonita leaves her lunch trash on the table.” “Bill always slops coffee when he pours it and never cleans it up!” “The partners NEVER wash their own coffee cup, they just dump it in the sink for others to deal with.”

When I visit a new client I enjoy getting an office tour. I can usually identify the office that belongs to the tax partner. Not to pick on tax partners, but I will. Although the firm is “paperless” (sort of), the partner has piles and piles of papers, files, books, booklets, U.S. mail, etc. stacked everywhere. Notice I said “usually” it’s a tax partner, some of you others are guilty, too.

There is hope!  A great example is Bart Haag of Albin, Randall & Bennett in Portland, ME. I received an email from Bart last week with a picture attached that was titled, “No More Mess!”  Check-out Bart’s office below. He also promises to keep it that way (and enlist others to help him keep it that way).

Partners should always set a good example, just like Bart.

photo (1)

 

 

  • Sometimes I think that there's a fine line between impressionistic and messy.
  • Lady Gaga

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Xero – Beautiful accounting software

Jamie“Beautiful accounting software” is the tagline you see when you first hit the Xero website. It certainly has a nice sound to it.

I have written about Xero a few times before in my efforts to keep CPAs in public practice informed of current trends. Xero has sure gained ground over the last 18 months and I continually hear really good things from practitioners across the country.

I heard directly from Jamie Sutherland, President, Xero U.S., last Friday about the good news you might have seen in lots of other CPA media releases. Xero has raised another $150 million to accelerate their growth plans.

Here’s what is going on:

  • Twenty-five of Accounting Today’s Top 100 Firms are moving clients to Xero.
  • They now have over 100 people in the US with offices in Denver, New York and Los Angeles and San Francisco.
  • They just released a Quickbooks Conversion service to help small businesses and accountants convert their files.
  • They are days away from releasing game-changing drag & drop document storage capability in Xero which will be called Files.
  • They are on track for the release of US payroll in early December just in time for peak season. Seamless payroll right inside the Xero app.
  • Lastly, they are on the road during October & November to meet with forward-thinking accountants and industry experts to share the news.  www.xero.com/roadshow

I always suggest to you (and I got it from Tom Peters) is what we believed in when I was working inside a successful, growing firm – –  W T T M S W (whoever tries the most stuff wins).

 

  • If a window of opportunity appears, don't pull down the shade.
  • Tom Peters

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Help Determine How Much CPAs Are Using Social Media

It’s that time of year again. Time for the SocialCPAs annual Social Media Survey. This is the 4th year for the survey.

You will be able to use the survey results to compare your social media efforts to your peers. It should only take you about 10 minutes.

Click here to take the survey.

If you want to see past survey results, you can access them here.

Be sure to visit the SocialCPAs site for interesting and up-to-date information about social media for accounting professionals. Barry MacQuarie does a great job.

I found this hilarious video when I visited recently. This is for those CPAs who are not quite there yet when it comes to paperless!

  • If you don't design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.
  • Jim Rohn

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Performance Appraisal and Assessment Software

silkAs the loyal followers of this blog know, I am not aligned with any particular vendor or supplier of services to the CPA profession (except for my sister company, SurveyCPA).  I try to stay independent so that I can continually let CPAs working in public accounting know about various resources available to them.

Today I had an interesting conversation with Randy L. Hultz – Director, Performance Strategies with SilkRoad’s WingSpan a performance review, evaluation and management software. I was talking with Mr. Hultz on behalf of one of my clients who is investigating their product.

I was impressed, especially because Mr. Hultz, as a CPA, used to work for a large CPA firm in the HR area and actually used WingSpan. This product has specific features to meet the complex needs of public accounting.

Just wanted to make you aware in case this is the summer you are going to finally embrace an HR software package to make all your HR functions operate more smoothly.

  • If someone is going down the wrong road, he doesn't need motivation to speed him up. What he needs is education to turn him around.
  • Jim Rohn