Archive for the ‘Paperless’ Category

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

What If They Stay?

“To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” – Elbert Hubbard

I see it all the time, there are people who need to go. Owners hope and pray they will eventually quit. In fact, they subtly take steps to encourage departure. But, what if they stay? Is it worth demotivating your top performers because poor performers experience no consequences for their lack of engagement, low performance, and bad attitudes?
Here’s a tweet from Bruce Tulgan, author of It’s Okay To Be The Boss:
Of course, there are employees we don’t want to lose. But who are you afraid will stay? Identify those people. Are they low performers? Do they have an attitude problem? Are they simply not engaged? If you can fix the problem, do it! Otherwise, you’ve got to let those people go.
  • No man goes before his time; unless the boss leaves early.
  • Groucho Marx

Monday, July 1st, 2019

That Mystical Place…. the Cloud

“Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller

Now that tax season is over and somewhat slower summer months are upon us, I am hearing from and talking directly to more CPA practitioners.

I continue to be amazed at the slowness with which so many accounting firms are advancing in paperless and movement to the cloud. Many firms tell me that they are paperless in that they don’t keep paper files. Yet, they admit that paper still flows around the office (client source documents, route sheets, etc.). As for the cloud, they confess that they are “somewhat” in the cloud.

That’s why a blog via Right Networks and written by Gene Marks caught my eye. He explains The Five Risks of Not Going To The Cloud. He notes, “Yes, you should be leveraging the cloud for all of your firm’s data – including your clients’ data. In fact, not doing so creates more risk than rewards.”

I hope you take the time to read the article that explains more about these five significant risks:

  1. The risk of data loss.
  2. The risk of your internal infrastructure.
  3. The risk of your IT staff.
  4. The risk of security.
  5. The client expectation risk.

Read more here.

  • For happiness one needs security, but joy can spring like a flower even from the cliffs of despair.
  • Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Thursday, June 20th, 2019

Keep It Simple

“Simplify, simplify.” – Henry David Thoreau

Recently, we joined a group of friends for dinner at a nearby restaurant. It was one of those restaurants that provided a menu that weighed about two pounds and seemed like a coffee table book. The hostess seemed to struggle to carry eight of them as she led us to our table. These types of restaurants always make me wonder who they are trying to impress.

This visit was different.

They have a new, simple menu that you open, lay it flat and that’s it. A front cover, two facing pages inside and more choices on the back. Most of the offerings we were used to were included.

Maybe restaurants are trying to impress people with their expensive looking menus but I was more impressed with the simplicity and ease of ordering.

How many things are you making more complicated in your firm just because you have always done things a certain way? Now is the time to simplify! Technology will make it happen.

  • Customers require the effective integration of technologies to simplify their workflow and boost efficiency.
  • Anne M. Mulcahy

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

Small Firms Can Also Use AI for Audit

“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” – Mother Teresa

I work with a lot of smaller firms. They are always looking for ways to stay competitive and to take advantage of as much technology as possible. Sometimes small firms assume they can’t compete with what the big national and regional firms are doing.

In a recent article via The Journal of Accountancy, Samantha Bowling, CPA, CGMA tells the story of how her 15 person firm is using artificial intelligence to identify high-risk transactions as part of its auditing process.

One line caught my attention. It is an important issue for small CPA firms. Do you still have servers on site? Bowling says, “We used to have seven servers on-site. Now everything is in the cloud. We used to be able to remote in to our servers before, but it was slow. The remote access is much better in the cloud. It’s night and day. I’m excited because I’ve never had access to this much technology.”

Just because you are a small firm doesn’t mean you have to think small! Read this article!

  • Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.
  • Vincent Van Gogh

Friday, April 26th, 2019

Spring Cleaning

“If you always add and never subtract, you will eventually bury yourself.” – Peter Walsh

Maybe you aren’t really too busy today. Anyway, you are probably still recuperating from tax season.

This would be a great day to clean your desk (and your office)!

Right, I know you are paperless (cough, cough). But do you spend time looking for stuff? Studies have found that we lose precious work minutes every time we go searching for a lost paper on a cluttered desk or office.

This doesn’t just apply to paper items. Studies have also found that information workers lose up to two hours a week frantically searching for lost digital documents.

In her article via HBR, Libby Sander tells us that cluttered spaces can have negative effects on our stress and anxiety levels, as well as our ability to focus. Workplace stress costs American businesses up to $190 billion every year in health care costs alone. Read the article here.

I have toured many accounting firm offices over the years. I can always tell, without being told, which office belongs to a tax partner or manager (because of the stacks of papers, files, mail, magazines, etc.)!

This is the day to unclutter your desk, office, and your mind!

  • Clutter smothers. Simplicity breathes.
  • Terri Guillemets

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

Tech Mistakes

“Technology like art is a soaring exercise of the human imagination.” – Daniel Bell

There was an interesting article via the Journal of Accountancy recently that you might want to read. It deals with technology mistakes that you should avoid.

The common mistakes, called “the dirty dozen” by the author (J. Carlton Collins, CPA) are:

  1. Email messages are unencrypted
  2. Old computers are still used
  3. Employees are not adequately trained
  4. Accounting system features are underutilized
  5. Paperless systems are inadequately implemented
  6. Physical security is lacking
  7. Smartphones are underutilized
  8. Cloud computing isn’t used
  9. Work areas are poorly designed
  10. Color printing is underutilized
  11. Social media is underutilized
  12. Websites are inadequate

My hot buttons on this list are #3, #5 and #12. How about you? Be sure to follow the link and read what the author says about each one.

  • Let’s go invent tomorrow instead of worrying about what happened yesterday.
  • Steve Jobs

Friday, July 13th, 2018

Think Before You Automate

“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?” – Henry David Thoreau

Your firm is almost paperless. You have been working on it (that’s what many firm leaders tell me) but still some paper flows around the office as tax returns and other client projects are being prepared.

You find an appropriate accounting workflow software and commit to automating the way that work flows through your office. There are several vendors serving the CPA profession. Do your research and find out which one is best for your firm. Both of the prominent CPA profession software vendors have a product.

Then you are anxious to get it up and running so that you can digitally track the work flowing through the office. Move ahead cautiously. Take time to think. Are you planning to simply replicate your current process by using the software?

Before you automate, investigate and eliminate all of the inefficiencies in your current processes. The accounting software will just do what you tell it to do. Form a task force comprised of people from different levels and disciplines involved in the work and streamline the process before you automate it.

Accounting workflow software will help you take a huge step toward becoming a truly digital firm.

 

  • Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.
  • Peter Drucker

Friday, December 29th, 2017

Next Year

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.” – Robert Frost

How many times have you said those two words, “next year”?

Maybe to your kids, “You’ll be old enough to do that next year.”

Maybe to your spouse, “Honey, we’ll take that special vacation trip next year.”

Maybe to yourself, “I’m going to lose 25 pounds next year!”

How about inside your firm?

“We will work on it and become COMPLETELY paperless next year.”

“We can’t do it this year, but next year we will out-place those five clients that drive our staff nuts.”

“We promise to be more timely with our feedback process next year.”

“We will add a few more employee benefits next year.”

“We have to update our website next year.”

“We will look into all this new digital stuff like blockchain and artificial intelligence, next year.”

“I’ll pass the CPA exam next year.”

For all these “next years” relating to your firm: Monday is NEXT YEAR.

For NOW – have a happy and safe New Years’ weekend!

  • It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and the broken promises.
  • Chief Joseph

Monday, November 27th, 2017

Year-End Tax Checklist

“Life is simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius

Well-managed CPA firms have, for a long time, supplied their individual income tax clients with some sort of year-end tax checklist. It is meant to be a helpful tool to encourage the clients to consider significant (and some insignificant) events that might affect their tax return.

At my firm, we used to include the tax checklist with the tax organizer. Many clients, as you can imagine, never bothered to look at their organizer, so they also missed the tax checklist. Then, we stopped providing tax organizers. Our default setting was “No organizer” unless a client specifically requested one. A few did.

Things are so much better now. You can simply send an email to your clients with a link to the annual tax checklist. They can quickly scan through the questions and provide you with information that affects their return.

Last week I received an email from one of my clients that included the year end tax checklist link (just because I am on their mailing list). It was quick to read, easy to review and made me think about pertinent information. That’s exactly how you want your clients to feel about how you provide services – quick, easy and pertinent!

Make 2018 a year when you become a proactive advisor to your clients and get away from always being in reactionary mode.

  • The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.
  • Hans Hofmann

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

Workflow Software

“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” – Albert Einstein

There are still many of you out there, working in CPA firms, without the advantage of workflow software.

Sad but true, I continually interact with CPA firms who are just “sort of” paperless. One of the tools that makes becoming truly a digital firm a reality is workflow software. From your desktop, you know who has what and how projects are flowing through your office.

Last week, Accounting Today featured an article: Software Survey: Workflow solutions in 2017.

Simply put, workflow for tax preparation means tracking all of the paths and operations involved in producing a return and invoice, and making certain all of the tasks are performed on time by concrete due dates.

Workflow software gives you peace of mind. It helps you be sure that no client falls through the cracks when it comes to due dates. Missing a due date is one of a CPA’s biggest worries!

I know, when my firm adopted GoFileRoom for document management many years ago, the most attractive feature was the workflow portion.

If you are one of those firms still without a workflow tool, be sure to read the article – it is full of great insights from various sources/vendors.

  • When you forgive, you in no way change the past - but you sure do change the future.
  • Bernard Meltzer