Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

Tracking The Time You Are At Your Desk

“Any privacy in public is a hard thing to negotiate.” – Benedict Cumberbatch

All of this technology is wonderful, right? It helps us get work done faster, it helps us shop, it helps us find places, it helps us do our banking and other chores, and it opens an amazing world of information for us.

I was with a friend recently who uses technology (Life360) to track her teenage daughter. Some people track their entire family.

Recently, Suzanne Lucas (@RealEvilHRLady) wrote an article for Inc. that reported on a bank tracking the time their employees spent at their desks.

Supposedly, the bank says the purpose is to see what spaces employees use. It doesn’t track who is sitting at your desk. The information will be used for space planning.

But what if employers begin using such devices to track employees for other purposes.

It is kind of creepy but also interesting. I don’t really mind that Google knows where I am most of the time. I’m not so naive to think other entities may be tracking me. If you use a credit card, you become very public. But something about having your boss track the time you sit at your desk would be unacceptable.

Read the article, see what you think.

  • You already have zero privacy. Get over it.
  • Scott McNealy

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

New Clients Will Want Cloud Services

“It takes a very long time to become young.” – Pablo Picasso

I cringe when I hear it. The sad part is that now – summer of 2017 – I am still hearing it way too often from CPA firms around the country.

Are you paperless? Are you completely digital? Are you in the cloud? Are you using a portal?

Most of the answers I hear are…. “sort of,” “not really,” “we don’t trust the cloud,” and “we haven’t pushed it with our clients.”

A recent survey by Bill.com tells us that business owners under the age of 55 prefer their accountants to handle all or most of their accounting work digitally. 78% of those 39 and under want paper-free accounting.

I believe that people, in general, are becoming very accustomed to the digital world – from their personal banking transactions to entertainment.

It’s time to give up the excuse you have used for too many years… “our clients are older and they want things in paper.”

Read more about this survey via Accounting Today – Your Next Accounting Client Wants Paperless, Mobile Services by Mary Ellen Biery.

  • The whims of youth break all the rules.
  • Homer, The Iliad

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

Download Your Tech Roadmap

“To embrace technology as a strategic enabler, firms need to shift their treatment of technology from cost to investment.” – Donny Shimamoto

You can now download a new free ebook from Sageworks. In the book, leading experts in technology, practice management, marketing and firm strategy share their real-world advice for preparing firms to navigate technology choices, determining which technologies are best suited for the challenges facing firms and ensuring the solutions work for a firm. The book also covers strategies to help firms increase their value through the reliance on technology.

I am simply delighted to be included among these amazing experts.

Tech Roadmap: Selecting the Ideal Solutions to Thrive in Business AdvisingINSIDE THIS EBOOK:

  • The Groundwork – What needs to happen at a firm before it begins vetting specific technology?
  • Addressing Challenges With Technology – What types of technologies should be considered?
  • Making Tech Work – How can firms ensure technology is adopted successfully?

READ ADVICE FROM INDUSTRY LEADERS

Need help navigating tech choices for your firm? See my advice in a new eBook from @sageworks http://web.sageworks.com/e/14602/2rVqSY7/7f42gj/692738269 

  • Anyone starting a firm today should be in the cloud. I tell every single sole practitioner startup, ‘YOU HAVE TO BE 100 PERCENT IN THE CLOUD. Your clients are going to want to be able to collaborate with you.
  • James C. Bourke, WithumSmith+Brown

Monday, May 8th, 2017

Delay and Millennials – Not A Good Combination

“Life is like a 10-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.” – Charles M. Schulz

Think about it. Millennials have always had technology at their finger tips. The oldest Millennials are 37 years old this year. They are not kids and many are your employees and your clients.

As consumers, they do not expect delays. They are used to having access almost immediately to any kind of information via their mobile device. When making purchases, they are used to having their information (profile) “out there” so they don’t even have to spend time entering specific billing and shipping information. It is not just Millennials, we are all now used to speed when shopping on line.

The younger generation is also used to obtaining answers by looking at FAQ pages rather than calling a customer service rep. According to a Desk.com study, 80% of Millennials find calling customer service highly inconvenient.

Consider how this information relates to your accounting firm.

Your Clients:

Much of your current and most of your future client base expect information quicker. They do not want to wait until you can return their phone call – 4 hours later.

How user friendly and interactive is your website? Do you have a FAQ page to help people learn about and understand CPA services?

Your Employees:

Do your employees have to wait on performance feedback? I often hear about firms that have delayed the feedback scheduled for June until November or December!

Do your employees have to wait, maybe a week or more, on review notes that guide them as they work on client engagements?

Do your employees have to wait days to talk to a partner (the partner is out of the office, on the phone, in meetings, etc.)?

Do your employees have to wait YEARS to be promoted? Telling a new college grad that it might take 10 years to become a partner could be quite a shock.

As a partner group, do you table a decision until the next partner meeting… then the next partner meeting… and then the next partner meeting?

Beginning now, explore ways to speed things up at your firm…. or, you will find your firm lagging behind in many areas.

  • The speed of the leader is the speed of the gang.
  • Mary Kay Ash

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Maybe a Sabbatical Program Would Make Your Firm Unique

“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

In the accounting profession, we have been talking about sabbaticals for years. Few firms offer this benefit.

Some firms established a sabbatical program for partners, urging them to take six weeks away from the office with NO CONTACT. The mission being to prove to the partner that they could get along just fine without them and client service would not suffer. These types of programs were a half-hearted attempt at succession planning. Honestly, I haven’t heard of many firms offering sabbaticals in any form. It seems CPAs love to work!

Rather than focusing on partners, why not establish a sabbatical program for your team members. Maybe it would differentiate you from your competitors and help retain top talent.

Kabbage_logo_wo_tag_vertKabbage®, the pioneering financial services technology, and data platform, out of Atlanta is offering a unique benefit to its employees. Perhaps, you can learn from them.

Kabbage is now offering a sabbatical option for team members who have been with the company for 5+ years. And it’s quite the package – a 6-week sabbatical that is fully paid plus the company gives a $6k stipend to encourage its employees to do something memorable ( a trip of a lifetime?)

Check out their career webpage. They offer:

Dynamic Environment
Daily catered lunches, ice cream freezer & snacks
Dog-friendly office
Cold/brewed coffee & beer on tap
Onsite fitness & meditation classes
Adjustable sit/stand desks

Competitive Benefits
Unlimited PTO
Equity in the company
Full coverage of individual health benefits
Six-week sabbatical program
Free parking
Annual bonus

Learning & Development
Shadowing program
More than 20 onsite courses
Interactive career development
Leadership development
Mentoring program

All of this makes me ask the big question. How does your firm’s career webpage stack up?

  • Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.
  • Jim Rohn

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Virtual Employees Made Easier

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke

In case you missed it, I wanted give you a link to an article in the latest issue of Accounting Today – Rise of the robot. It’s pretty cool.

We have been talking about remote and virtual employees and how to deal with them for several years now. Things continually evolve and firms are learning how to manage the ever-changing world of employee engagement and retention.

beam_pro_sizedOne firm, Navolio & Tallman featured in the article, is now using a machine called the Beam mobile presence system as their mobile conference set-up for individuals working virtually.

Think of the episode of Big Bang where Sheldon wants to protect his body from the hazards of the world and begins using a virtual presence machine.

Check out the article and the pictures. It also proves that you don’t have to be a humongous firm to do some very creative things. N&T has 3 partners and 18 people.

The firm’s work-from-home culture is thriving. They have a compressed work week, after April 15. Employees work 9 hours a day Monday through Thursday, and work from home Friday with the day ending at noon. During tax season, staff members do work on Saturdays, but they can do that from home as well.

I believe the best message for retaining top talent is simple. Invest in technology.

 

  • It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.
  • Albert Einstein

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

Professional Liability Insurance & More

img_7495You all have it but you might not love it. Yes, I am talking about professional liability insurance.

Many of you (my readers) are members of the CPA Firm Management Association and have met Stephen Vono of NAPLIA. He is the sponsor of the special night out event at the FMA annual National Practice Management Conference. Stephen was responsible for making applying for professional liability insurance easy for me and many others in the CPA profession.

Here’s some great information from Stephen and NAPLIA that was sent to the attendees of the conference in June this year. I think you can all benefit from this information.

NAPLIA’s Cyber and Data Security ebook was a popular takeaway from the conference.  If you missed it, you can download a copy here or please send me a note and I’ll be glad to mail you a hard copy. It is intended to give you guidance when preparing to safeguard your firm against the exposure to loss of client information. I hope you find it useful.

I am sending out resources in response to the many questions I received on insurance programs that NAPLIA provides.

  • A Mobile Device Usage policy can help your firm manage and mitigate exposure to client data loss.  In response to Matthew Harvey’s mention of a Mobile Device Usage Policy in his presentation“Minding the Candy Store”last Thursday, I am providing a sample of such a policy here
  • Accounting Today interviewed me on information security and cyber liability exposures for CPA firms. Watch it here: Video: CPA Firms have a target on their back
  • In keeping with the information security and cyber liability theme, I am offering other cyber liability risk management policies and best practices. Samples for your firm to use can be found below.
  • Watch the recorded version of our most recent webinar “Got claims? Just look at the tax side of your practice.”

In addition, many questions were asked about Information Security and Cyber Liability Insurance. Please take a look at our website for additional information or call me at 508-656-1330 to get the conversation started on the important topic of minimizing your firm’s exposure to litigation around client information loss.

Please consider NAPLIA for your firm’s professional liability insurance and risk management needs!

Regards, 

Stephen Vono | Principal | NAPLIA

stevev@naplia.com 

(Picture: Stephen, me and some Ohio FMA Chapter members.)

  • There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.
  • John F. Kennedy

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

What Top Leaders In The Profession Are Worrying About

Here’s an excerpt, about TECHNOLOGY, from a recent article in Accounting Today.

MODERN TIMES

The speed with which the future is demolishing the present was a major concern for many of the profession’s leaders, who worry that accountants are “not adapting to the fast pace of change fast enough,” according to Maryland Association of CPAs CEO Tom Hood. “Many CPAs are stuck in the current state and not taking the time to be aware, predictive and adaptive to the changes facing our profession. This is causing them to delay making changes necessary to leverage technology, develop succession plans and next-generation leaders.”

The rate at which technology changes —and the slower rate at which accountants adapt to it — was a frequent worry. “It is difficult to keep up with the pace of innovation today,” said Antonio Argiz, chairman and CEO of Top 100 Firm MBAF. “More firms are moving towards cloud computing, which raises more cybersecurity issues than we have had to account for before. Also, staying up-to-date with the changes in technology and innovation in the audit field will be challenging, especially for smaller firms where upgrading can be cost prohibitive.”

Technology thought leader and partner at WithumSmith+Brown Jim Bourke echoed that: “The impact of technological changes in the profession … is changing the game and how financial information will be viewed in the future. Firms that are stuck in the traditional compliance reporting role will be forced to change or will be left behind.”

Avoiding that fate will require accountants to develop greater expertise, said Confirmation.com founder Brian Fox. “The most important issue is the change that needs to take place in order for our CPAs to be effective in the future — specifically I’m referring to the need for CPAs to have a much higher level of education when it comes to technology.”

Be sure to read the entire article here.

  • Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.
  • Leo Buscaglia

Friday, October 28th, 2016

Helpful Information

I often get questions on a VERY wide variety of CPA firm management topics. Many are HR, succession and operational related. I also try to provide the latest trends in marketing, leadership, and technology.

I am using the title “Helpful Information” to communicate some of the best practices or useful products I hear or read about.

For today, I recently learned some information for firms adopting Two Factor Authentication (2FA).

Many firms are happy with Duo Security. Xcentric has partnered with Duo Security to provide their clients with the utmost protection.

I am not aligned or partnered with any vendors serving the CPA profession. However, I do often feature vendors or products that I think my readers would find helpful.

  • The struggle for today is not altogether for today - it is for a vast future also.
  • Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Technology – Return On Investment (ROI)

“A nickel isn’t worth a dime anymore.” – Yogi Berra

I have heard firm leaders discuss return on investment relating to technology costs at many partner retreats and meetings. It always seems to be an elusive number and a never-ending conversation. In most cases, these conversations end with the comment partners apply to many things inside a CPA firm – “It costs too much.”

randyRandy Johnston has a very informative article on ROI via CPA Practice Advisor. He shares what should be in the calculations made regarding technology expenditures.

He also reminds us that there are a few key ideas behind what he discusses. Below are the key ideas. Follow this link to read the worthwhile article.

  1. That you have a technology plan and budget. Our latest National CPA Firm Survey data indicates that only 14% of CPA firms have an IT budget. Firms “spend what is needed” which may or may not be true.
  2. That each project should have an estimated return. Understand that some projects are dependent on other projects. For example, it is hard to implement eSignature if you don’t have your paperless project pretty far along.
  3. That you don’t have to implement the latest technology to be successful. However, you won’t gain a significant competitive advantage if you are a technology laggard.
  4. That, not every technology is for you.
  • Too many people spend money they earned to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like.
  • Will Rogers