Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

Managing Remote Employees

More and more CPA firms are facing the challenge of how to effectively manage remote workers.

I hear many success stories of being able to retain talented professionals even if they have to relocate to another city or state…. or even country. Remote connectivity for all firm team members has solved that issue. They can actually do the client work no matter where they are sitting.

It’s all the other things that are troublesome. How do we communicate with them? How do we make them feel part of our daily routine? How do we build the camaraderie that people working side-by-side in an office feel? How to we infuse them with our culture?

These challenges will only grow and expand as we move into the future. There are several software solutions to help reinforce communication, teamwork and share work status. That’s just the first step.

Here’s a recent post by Randy Rayess on Fast Company: 3 Tips For Managing Remote Workers. While remote workers is something rather new for the CPA profession, it will be a major factor in the future for the CPA profession.

The 3 tips are:

  1. Just be compassionate
  2. Check in personally – even if you can’t physically
  3. Encourage team members to interact

Follow the link, above, to read more about each of the 3 tips.

  • To me, teamwork is the beauty of our sport, where you have five acting as one. You become selfless.
  • Mike Krzyzewski

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Cyber Liability Insurance

I heard this topic discussed by many conference attendees last week. It was an important topic in the break-outs by firm size and in some of the larger sessions.

So… I headed for the NAPLIA booth to see my good friend Stephen Vono and did he ever give me an earful! It’s a technology issue but it is also an insurance issue and these two camps look at it through different lenses.

I’m no expert but I do know that many firms do not have coverage and it is a very scary area.

Learn more here on the NAPLIA site. In the world of “cost vs. benefit” that accountants live in – it’s a cheap investment.

Vono tells me that firms inquire and then procrastinate in making the decision to buy. (I know, that’s hard to believe, right?).

Here’s a selfie taken by Vono with me and several great Association For Accounting Administration friends.

Lori Doherty, Stephen Vono, Ginny Fedrich, Jane Johnson - Is that you with Rita?

Lori Doherty, Stephen Vono, Ginny Fedrich, Jane Johnson – Is that you with Rita?

  • I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.
  • Leonardo da Vinci

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

Technology At The Core

Randy Johnston, is that you with Rita?

Randy Johnston, is that you with Rita?

Last week, just after returning from the AICPA Practitioners’ Symposium and TECH+ Conference (co-located with the AAA and AAM conferences in Orlando), I did a post about the importance of technology inside your CPA firm.

Simple fact: If you are not keeping up with the rapidly evolving advances in technology, your firm will not be able to compete in the future – for clients or for talent.

Each year at the conference, I look forward to listening to and learning from Randy Johnston. Johnston gave the keynote session for the PStech track. He’s a legend in CPA tech circles.

One recurring theme I heard throughout the conference at various sessions – YOU MUST HAVE cyber security insurance.

Here are just some brief notes I took during Johnston’s presentation:

  • Security concerns are increasing. Most are caused by human error. Be sure you have insurance.
  • Tech budget = 5% of net fees.
  • Provide remote access for all team members
  • Control risks including mobile devices and internal controls on data.
  • Document management and portal use is important
  • It’s time let go of multiple monitors, it’s time for large monitors
  • Workstations need more RAM and one large monitor.
  • Firm scanner recommendations: Canon DR 162 and field scanner: Canon DR-C225
  • Relating to your own Tech Team, you have to trust them but you must verify what is going on.

My personal message to small firms… there is no excuse to not have a projector. It is my observation from working directly with smaller firms, they don’t have a projector, let alone a large LED screen. Johnston’s recommendation (LG MINIBEAM) costs under $400 – use it for in-house CPE and even for fun things and especially when a consultant is visiting your office.

  • Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.
  • Thomas Edison

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Technology! You Gotta Be There.

At the major conference this week – the joint AICPA Practitioners’ TECH, Association for Accounting Administration and Association for Accounting Marketing there was a lot of talk about TALENT.

I talk a lot about TALENT.

IMG_1107However, what I came away with was something even more important – TECHNOLOGY. Ladies and gentlemen, if you are working at a CPA firm, you must not only learn more, you must embrace and use it more.

I’m not talking about how to use the every day programs you use for audit, tax, bookkeeping or practice management – I’m talking about embracing the Cloud, not just dabbling with it.

As always, I enjoyed Barry Melancon‘s issues update at the conference. It is more or less a recap of AICPA efforts. I find that almost all of the practitioners that I work with are in the dark about so many of the national and international issues affecting their profession.

Here are just a few of the bullet-point notes I made during his update. YOU must dig-in and research these topic more thoroughly:

— Taking a closer look, more proactive look at peer review. Go here to read the Future of Practice Monitoring Concept paper. It’s a look at what it might look like down the road – – It is important that YOU read this.

— Center For Plain English Accounting – practitioners often have questions about how that technical literature is applicable in particular facts/circumstances. The CPEA’s straight-forward and clear style of writing and speaking allows practitioners the opportunity to understand the applicability of this literature when they are preparing financial statements and/or when they are auditing, reviewing, and compiling those financial statements.

— Smart data will change the way audits look.

— There is a growing need for data analytics in college grads.

— IRS... oh, my. If you are on hold for 2 hours they disconnect you. They are calling it a “courtesy disconnect.” There are huge service issues. No fixed in sight. This year’s budget is the same as the budget in 2009. This Congress will not give more money to the IRS. The AICPA tried to get them to at least fund the call center…. they said no.

  • Knowledge is the treasure, but judgment is the treasurer of a wise man.
  • William Penn

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Using or Avoiding Cloud Accounting Apps?

barryMy longtime friend in the world of public accounting, Barry MacQuarrie, Consultant and IT Director with the KAF firm in Boston can be described as a cloud accounting enthusiast.

As part of his on-going research, via Cloud Accounting Connects, he has just launched the 2015 Cloud Accounting Connects survey to find out if accountants are adopting or avoiding cloud accounting apps. Haven’t you been wondering what other accountants really think about the world of cloud accounting?

It should only take about 5 minutes to complete. Here’s the link to the survey.

MacQuarrie will share results with those who take the survey.

  • Aw, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. Forty percent of all people know that.
  • Homer Simpson

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

Accountants Should Embrace Technology

Headline from Thomson Reuters: Accountants should embrace technology.

What a statement! Sad to learn that so many have really not. The following is from a Thomson Reuters executive at their recent users’ conference:

“Many accounting firms still favor dated and inefficient ways of doing business, effectively trying to serve their clients in the same manner they always have, even though that world may no longer exist,” said Jon Baron, managing director of the Professional segment in the Tax & Accounting business of TR. He continued: “Overall client experience matters more today than it has before. It’s no longer enough to provide after-the-fact reporting and compliance work.”

The last sentence in the paragraph above is something I have been hearing for over 25 years!

A Thomson Reuters recent survey of accounting firms found:

  • Nearly 40% reported no offering a firm website.
  • More than one-third are not leveraging a document management system.
  • Only 16% reported the use of cloud applications in the firm.
  • Almost three-fourths reported that the primary method of delivering completed tax returns to the client is a paper copy.

Read more in this article via CPA Practice Advisor.

  • Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.
  • Frank Zappa

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

QuickBooks Online & The CPA Firm

As I talk with CPA practitioners and their teams around the country, the minute QBO is mentioned (QuickBooks Online), the whining begins. I’m talking serious whining here!

I think you know by now, I am here to convey honesty and insight into the world of CPA firm management. I try to offer solutions and alternatives to every issue. That’s why I am addressing this QBO issue.

For years and years I have heard anguish and pain about the different “versions” of QB and how difficult it is to keep CPA firm clients on the most recent version of QB. Some firms report that they must keep a significant number of QB versions active on their servers just to serve the clients. Some firms have even adopted a policy to force all clients to stay current on versions.

All of that, of course, would be solved with an online version and the phasing out of all desktop versions. That is what Intuit is doing.

It doesn’t seem to be going so well, so far.  Users and practitioners are stirred-up and very negative. The most positive comment I have heard about QBO  is “Well, it has its limitations.”

Please note, I am not a user. I cannot do anything but communicate what I am hearing and reading and offer possible solutions.

As with most issues involving significant change, people (users) will get used to it. But, for now, this move to the cloud does not seem like an enjoyable experience.

Yesterday on AccountingWeb, Nate Stewart wrote, “Why QuickBooks’ Cloud Bet Matters To Everyone.” He notes that Intuit says, “QuickBooks Online is the future and it’s better to go with the tide than against it.”

Here’s a review by PC Magazine and it compares similar products.

When I read articles like these online, I always view the comments (I urge you to do the same). Sometimes they are very insightful. One comment seemed to be aligned with what I actually hear from CPA firm users, “With 15 years experience using Quickbooks both online and PC/MAC versions, I can honestly say avoid the online version like the plague.”

I’m sure it will get better, so be patient but I also recommend exploring options like Xero and others.

  • Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.
  • A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Productivity Hack of the Week

Fast-Company-Logo“To help you work smarter instead of harder, we’re hitting you with a productivity hack each Friday. Check out our hacks here.” – – this is from Fast Company.

If you are confused by the word hack, used in this context, learn more here.

I thought the Productivity Hack Of The Week for October 10, 2014 just might interest many accountants working in public accounting. You know…. the place where in most firms you track every single minute of your day! (Except for the very progressive firms where they have embraced the value pricing model.) Of course, whether you are tracking time or not – you can end up wasting a lot of time browsing the web.

Taking a Facebook break or reading a few blogs that you follow everyday (and find helpful… hopefully like mine), can still be good for you and also be productive, within limits. It is still very clear that there is only so much time you can spend with these browsing activities.

That is why, when I read about how to track how much time you waste, I thought it would certainly pique your interest.

There is an app that runs in the background while you work on your computer or smartphone that tracks each second you spend on applications and websites and gives you weekly reports and data based on your activity.

Then there is another app that helps you, after you have decided how much time you want to cut back (a productivity extension for Google Chrome) that allows you to restrict the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites. If you lack self-control completely and need to put yourself on a productivity lock down, you can block specific sites completely using Chrome.

All this is interesting. I need to dig a little deeper and see if it could benefit me. I know that I get sucked into reading a post and following a link, then another link and end up reading, reading, reading….. which is good for my knowledge and expertise but I often have other more important priorities!

As mentioned above, Fast Company provides a productivity hack every week – read them here.

  • Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.
  • Stephen King

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Keeping Pace With Technology

4monitors Roger KramerAll of your people, at least the accountants, have three monitors… maybe four. You offer remote access to most of your people.

There is so much more to accounting firm technology than that and often firm leaders let technology slip from top of mind.

I often see it during firm mergers… acquisitions… technology is not discussed soon enough and thoroughly enough.

This is the year to attend the Association for Accounting Administration Technology Fly-In. You will be able to identify and use:

  • New resources that will help you leverage your time more effectively
  • New applications and knowledge to address today’s technology challenges at CPA firms
  • Specific solutions and best practices in the area of IT

Here’s a quote from a past attendee:  “This is not a fluff session – you are working for 2 days… working on problems broken out in groups based on the size of your firm and gaining contacts you can call when you get back to the office.”


  • November 11-12, 2014
  • Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel & Conference Center
  • Rosemont IL
  • Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it is useless.
  • Thomas Edison

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Roman’s Eight IT Trends Impacting CPA Firms

Roman RalphIf you are a member of The Association For Accounting Administration, you know Roman Kepczyk. One of the most common phrases I have heard AAA members say is, “I love Roman!”  So do I.

Roman has been advising CPA firms on technology topics and needs for many years and when I visit a firm they usually tell me: “Roman has been here.”

Via the AAA newsletter Roman has published 2014 information about 8 trends for CPA firms:

  1. Cloud Apps/Hybridization
  2. Mobility
  3. BYOD
  4. Learning/Collaboration
  5. Globalization
  6. Big Data/Little Data
  7. Workflow Integration
  8. Security by Design

Read the full article and learn about each of these trends.

That’s a throwback picture of Roman and Ralph Hendrix at an AAA National Practice Management conference quite a few years back. Ralph is a past National President of AAA and is the COO of  MACPAGE in Portland, Maine.

  • Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.
  • Mark Twain