Archive for the ‘Paperless’ Category

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

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

No, We Can’t. Yes, We Can!

bobthebuilder_slide_makesA while back Seth Godin did a blog post titled, “On Behalf of Yes.”

It struck a cord with me on how many times, inside public accounting firms, partners, managers and even team members lean towards thinking, “No, we can’t.”

While it comes to understanding complex tax laws and changing to comply with those demands and performing audit services with the utmost perfection, CPAs think – “Yes we can, this is our profession and we love this stuff.”

Yet when it comes to taking care of their own business, keeping pace with the times and what is going on in the management world, CPAs think, “No way, I like things just the way they are. It’s worked well for us all these years.”

What have the most successful firms embraced? They have embraced a YES attitude.

  • Nearly 30 years ago, most CPAs did not believe an administrative person could plan CPE, select the right people to hire, lead the marketing efforts and help bring the newest technology into the firm. Then they discovered the power of hiring a firm administrator.
  • We cannot advertise. It’s not professional and we don’t know how. Yes, we did.
  • I remember one of my first “No, we can’t” situations. We can’t possibly do away with our legal size files and move to letter size. Yes, we did.
  • No, we cannot let someone work a flexible schedule. Yes, we did.
  • No, we simply cannot put a computer on everyone’s desk. Yes, we did.
  • No, we cannot go paperless. Yes, we did.
  • No, we cannot allow our people access to the internet. Yes, we did.
  • No, we cannot get into all of this social media stuff. Yes, we did.

You might not even be aware you are displaying a “No” attitude and demeanor. Become aware! Stop thinking and saying “No” and identifying all the reasons why something cannot be done.

Think of the kid’s show Bob the Builder. His motto: Can we fix it? Yes, we can!

 

  • You can, you should, and if you're brave enough to start, you will.
  • Stephen King, on writing

Friday, February 1st, 2013

AAA Paperless Benchmarking Survey

romanCPA firm technology consultant and all around nice-guy, Roman Kepczyk of Xcentric, has shared his findings from the Association for Accounting Administration 2013 Paperless Benchmarking Survey.

The survey has been conducted every two years since 2003 and this year 115 firms responded.

You can see the survey results on the Xcentric blog.

  • Be prepared and be honest.
  • John Wooden

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Client Portal Talking Points

In the January issue of Xcentric’s Partner Brief, Roman Kepczyk has an informative and helpful article on how to encourage your clients to take advantage of the “client log-in” or portal on your website. The article is titled Promoting Portal Adoption. I was also pleased to have an article featured in the Xcentric January Issue, Employee Engagement Inside An Accounting Firm.

Roman provides –  7 Portal Talking Points Everyone in the Firm Should be Able to Share with Clients:

  1. Almost everyone is already familiar with using a portal for services such as online banking or payroll, so putting one to work for accounting needs is the next natural step.
  2. Portals are among the most secure ways of transferring information both to and from clients. Most CPA vendor-hosted portals are housed in enterprise-class data centers and run by teams of IT/security personnel who continuously monitor activity, a luxury that few firms can afford themselves.
  3. Portals offer 24/7 accessibility via Internet-enabled devices to upload or access files, which is just not possible with paper files available only in one place at one time.
  4. Portals notify the recipient whenever a file is uploaded or accessed, which means more timely access to the files at the convenience of the recipient.
  5. Portals are bi-directional in that they can be used by both the firm and clients or trusted third parties to transfer information digitally. Most portals today make it possible to limit who can see which specific files or who can have access in “read only” format.
  6. Portals allow for larger file size transfers, such as huge PDFs or QuickBooks files, which are often too big for email systems.
  7. Portals promote a more eco-friendly environment, using digital files sent electronically rather than paper files moved by people.

He also elaborates on educating firm users, selecting a portal and encouraging client use. Be sure to follow the link to read his entire article.

Picture: Roman Kepczyk, is that you with Rita?

  • May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.
  • Edwar Abbey

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Re-ordering Business Cards? – Think Again!

I was talking with Roy Keely of Xcentric last fall. He said, “I don’t even carry business cards anymore, with LinkedIn and other Internet tools, I can easily exchange contact information.”

I thought…. Roy is right-on, hardly anyone asks me for a business card anymore – they just want to know where to find me on the web (which is easy… just Google Rita Keller). Why bother with a business card?

An article appeared in many newspapers last week-end that validates this growing trend.  Professionals are opting for LinkedIn and Bump as digital alternatives. Most of you are well aware of LinkedIn. If not follow the link to learn more about it. Bump is an app for your mobile device that enables you to simply “bump” hands while holding your mobile device and contact information is exchanges. Watch the cool video by following the link to Bump, above.

The article also notes:

  • To Web-savvy people who are accustomed to connecting digitally, business cards are irrelevant, wasteful and just lame.
  • If you have arranged to meet someone face-to-face, you have more than likely already connected via email, so there is really no need for a business card.
  • U.S. sales of business cards have been falling since the late 1990s.
  • Analysts say printed business cards, like newspapers, books and magazines, are fast giving way to digital alternatives.
  • 85 million people have a professional network on LinkedIn and 77 million smartphone users have downloaded the Bump app.
  • Paper is not so appealing to this generation, says the chair of psychology at Golden Gate University.

Real life reality check: Each year as I speak to CPAs across the country and chat with them during networking events, when I ask for a business card, the most common reply is, as they quickly check every pocket: “Oh, I don’t have any with me.” 

 

  • The liberty of speaking and writing guards our other liberties.
  • Thomas Jefferson

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Don’t Proscrastinate on Adopting Less Paper for Your Internal CPA Firm Operations

Is your firm healthy on the inside?

I often ask this question and it encompasses a large body of work inside your firm such as, recruiting, orientation and other HR activities, processes/procedures, firm financial analysis, technology and practice growth. Many firms allow the internal operations to be the last group to adopt a paperless environment.

If you have procrastinated, get busy this summer. No excuses – this is one of those Do Things! topics that I nag you about.

Roman Kepczyk, Director of Consulting for Xcentric has some great tips in his column on the CPA Practice Advisor site. Here are his “10 Opportunities” along with some comments from me.

Digital Pay Stub Delivery (I hope you have all embraced this one, most firms have.)

Integrate Expense Reimbursement with Payroll (Direct deposit these funds.)

Process Expense Reports through Practice Management

Utilize Remote CheckScan for Deposits (Most banks provide scanners – it’s time to eliminate the daily “trip to the bank” which turns into someone always leaving early or someone being absent for 30 minutes or more)

Deliver Firm Financial Reports via Portal (Ever had a copy of the firm financials left behind in the breakroom? They should be accessed via the owners’ desktop.)

Transition as Many Payables as Possible to Dedicated Credit Card (This provides better tracking and accumulates discounts for the firm.)

Move Remaining Payables to Web-Based Workflow Companies (I see more and more firms moving to Bill.com – you can learn all about it at AICPA PractitionersTech next week. Some of my clients are paying me via Bill.com and it is directly deposited into my account. This transaction… my invoicing and their payment completely paperless.)

Link Images of Source Documents to Accounting (leading accounting programs have the ability to do this)

Make the Most of On-screen Billing (At my former firm, this was the very first thing we took into the paperless environment way back in 1999!  Why?  Because of the amount of paper generated in the billing process.  Everyone should be billing on-screen using the practice management software.)

Utilize Digital Invoices (Deliver your invoices via email or via the client portal.)

Roman provides additional information under each of these 10 opportunities. As always, he is a wealth of information. Be sure to read the entire article.

As I have been saying over and over for 25 years:  I love Roman!

Monday, March 21st, 2011

CPAs, HOW PAPERLESS ARE YOU, REALLY?

I really enjoyed a post by Michael Hsu back on February 21.  It entertainingly described how he can work from anywhere.  Michael is founder & CEO of Deep Sky Accounting, Where Tech Savvy Accountancy Happens.

Please take a couple of minutes and read his post about how all he needs is a tray table, a folding chair, his trusty MacBook Pro and his iPhone.

I love how Michael and Deep Sky are doing things and are doing it differently:  We are a team of accounting ninjas who can slice, dice and judo chop raw numbers into meaningful business information.

When you visit the Deep Sky website take note of the “call us” message:  Let’s Chat.  Call us at 909.255.6478 and miraculously a human will pick up!  Not big on talking? email us (with a link to their email).

Michael came to mind because last week, I worked “differently,” too.  Not all day every day, but early mornings and late afternoons, I worked from Hilton Head Island.  The time in between early morning and late afternoon, I played golf, walked the beach and enjoyed the absolutely beautiful weather.

The picture above is of Michael demonstrating how he can work at 100% from anywhere.

The picture below is of how I worked last week – a patio table and chair on a balcony, my trusty MacBook Pro, and my iPhone.  Plus, note the glass of wine and the view of the ocean. I like my picture better because there is NO SNOW.

  • Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
  • T.S. Eliot

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

The Paperless CPA Firm – Status Report 2011

Roman Kepczyk, one of the most recommended consultants to the CPA profession, has released the results of the Association for Accounting Administration’s Paperless Office Practices Survey.  The survey has been conducted every other year since 2003 to identify digital trends and opportunities for improving firm production.

The survey is available to the members of AAA and highlights were published in CCH Practice Management Forum.  196 firms completed the survey with an average firm size of 55 team members. Here are some highlights of the survey:

  • 63% were scanning at the front-end or at mid-level and completing production of the return on-screen.
  • 72% (up from 32% two years ago) are using software to orgnize and bookmark source documents.
  • 29% of the firms were planning to use OCR technology for the 2011 busy season.
  • 38% are using triple monitors (up from 10% two years ago).  11% are using four.
  • 70% are now tracking due dates electronically via document management software (rather than their practice management software).
  • 73% are using portals for transferring files.
  • 63% are using digital fax systems.
  • 80% are using the dynamic linking between the trial balance and financial reports.
  • 71% are using tax groupings to transfer the data from the trial balance directly to their tax application.
  • 40% of auditors are taking dual monitors out to the client site.
  • 68% have implemented remote-access technology.
  • 10% are providing mobile tablet devices (Net-Books, iPads).
  • 67% are delivering internal firm financial reports electronically.
  • In eliminating paper storage, 70% (up 11%) of firms have implemented a document management application.
  • 52% of firms are using a remote check scanner for making deposits.
  • 46% are backing up their digital files via the Internet.

Lots to think about.  I have found that AAA member firms are some of the most progressive firms nationwide.  They stay in-tune with current trends and implement ideas and tools to effectively and efficiently serve their clients.

  • I don't set trends. I just find out what they are and exploit them.
  • Dick Clark

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

ROMAN’S TOP TEN 2011 IT PREDICTIONS AND 2010 RESULTS

Every year at this time, Roman Kepczyk provides us with his Top Ten technology predictions for the CPA profession for the coming year.  As he looks forward to 2011, he also provides comments on his 2010 predictions.  You can read his entire article in CPA Technology Advisor.

I have known and admired Roman for 20 years and count him as one of my valued friends and mentors.  His primary focus is helping firms throughout North America effectively use information technology by implementing best practices and directing them towards today’s digital environment.  If you have ever talked to a firm who has had Roman come in and assess the state of their technology you know that they are blown-away by the thorough and motivating assessment report he provides.

Here’s the 2011 list with just the titles, let’s gaze into the crystal ball.

1. Secure Data Transfer – significant increase in use of portals.

2. 64-Bit Windows 7 Standard for the majority of workstations.

3. iPads are cool enough – more and more owners will be using them.

4. Standalone SaaS Thrive.

5. Digital Delivery Finally Outpaces Manual Delivery.

6. AutoFlow Technology Works for 2011.

7. Android Becomes King (after Blackberry).

8. Tablet Application Developed.

9. Green Will be Cool to Accountants.

10. Security Breach Freaks Out Profession.

  • Change is inevitable; what matters is how you and your firm react to it.
  • Roman Kepczyk

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Got Productivity?

CPA Technology Advisor offers a Productivity Survey to assist you in determining where your firm stands in relation to productivity, performance and profitability.

Here are a couple of interesting stats they have discovered:

Regarding scanning of tax support documents:  Only 12% claim to scan all supporting documents before preparation begins, and nearly 40% indicate they “don’t scan supporting documents.”

Regarding the creation of a client return image for electronic storage:  Over 80% of the firms report doing so, but interestingly enough, that percentage falls to less than 70% among the largest firms.

Learn more….

  • He who moves not forward, goes backward.
  • Goethe