Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

Technology Fly-In For CPA Firms – Recap

Roman-mainIn November, the CPA Firm Management Association hosted it’s annual technology fly-in. It is an opportunity for firm technology managers/directors and firm practice managers to learn the most current trends and threats to their firms from a variety of CPA profession technology experts.

Sessions were conducted by Roman Kepczyk, Eric McMillen and Christian James.

Here are the topics:

  • CPA Trends: Strategic IT Response
  • Your Security Response
  • CPA Digital EcoSystem
  • IT Infrastructure/Data Center

Read the entire recap by Roman Kepczyk on the CPAFMA website here.

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

Monday, October 19th, 2015

Educate and Inspire Your CPA Firm Tech Team

CPAFMA_Name_PantoneCPAFMA is offering a fantastic opportunity for your firm’s valuable tech team (or tech person). The 2015 Technology Fly-In will be held in Chicago on November 10-11, 2015.

There is an elite list of speakers:

  • Eric McMillen, CEO and Chief Security Architect, The McMillen Group.
  • Christian James, Co-Founder, Xcentric
  • Roman H. Kepczyk, CPA, CITP, CGMA, Director of Consulting, Xcentric

Here’s a quote from a past-attendee:

“Great information was shared at the Technology Fly-in in Chicago. While my role has changed, I always learn so much at this event. All of the speakers are exceptional; it is so evident that each loves what he/she does. The exchange of information is invaluable.”

Topics for this year:

  • CPA Trends: Strategic IT Response
  • Your Security Response
  • CPA Digital Ecosystem
  • IT Infrastructure Update/Data Center
  • Tech Take Aways
  • IT Hot Topics and Open Brain Share Networking

Get all of the details here.

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

Friday, September 18th, 2015

Get Your IT Committee Talking

Information Technology inside of your busy CPA firm is a very, very important topic.

Just in case they need more to talk about, here is a list of trending IT topics to add to the IT Committee discussion list via Roman Kepczyk of Xcentric. Follow this link to read more about each topic (and share it with your Committee).

 

Topics:

  • Windows 10 Transition
  • Higher Resolution/Oversize Monitors
  • Revisit Ergonomics
  • Subscription Pricing
  • Collaboration on the Horizon
  • Mobile Device Management
  • Security Tune Up
  • Data Backup vs. Disaster Recovery.
  • The human spirit must prevail over technology.
  • Albert Einstein

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