Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

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

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

New Internet Domain for CPAs

Here’s a recent press release from the AICPA.

AICPA to Oversee New Internet Domain for CPAs

.CPA Will Enhance Trust and Branding of Profession in the Digital World

LAS VEGAS (June 10, 2019) –The American Institute of CPAs is in the process of being awarded the .cpa domain and is currently in a contract execution phase with the Internet’s global governing body, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The AICPA’s role in administering .cpa will provide a defined global domain for CPAs worldwide to connect with their clients with increased trust, security, and verification.

The Internet, like most things, is evolving. ICANN is charged with developing important future drivers for connection in the digital world. As part of this mission, it has expanded the top-level domain structure to aid navigation on the Internet and support trusted and value-based entities and communities. To supplement traditional top-level domains such as .com, .edu and .org, ICANN has approved more than 1,200 specialized domain extensions – including Amazon’s .aws, Google’s launch of .app, as well as those for other well-known businesses, governments, and institutions, such as .vanguard, .barclays, .kpmg, .mlb, and .nyc.

“By overseeing the .cpa domain in collaboration with other global CPA organizations, the AICPA can help promote CPAs’ visibility and protect their professional standing online,” said Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, the president and CEO of the AICPA. “We also want the public to have confidence that someone using a .cpa domain address for email or a website is affiliated with the CPA profession.”

The new domain extension will be available to CPAs and their firms and will signal a clear connection to the profession. For example, Firm Name, LLC, could have a website address of www.firmname.cpa. Jane Smith, an employee at that firm, could have an email address ofjsmith@firmname.cpa.

“Today, there’s a lack of authentication and growing mistrust of online information,” said Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com, the AICPA’s technology subsidiary. “This is why many leading companies and communities, such as Amazon, KPMG, and the banking industry are moving to restricted top-level domains. We’re looking forward to bringing this important new capability to the profession.”

More details on registering a domain name will be available later this year. For additional information and the opportunity to sign up for notifications, please visit https://domains.cpa.com

  • By overseeing the .cpa domain in collaboration with other global CPA organizations, the AICPA can help promote CPAs’ visibility and protect their professional standing online.
  • Barry Melancon

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

Computers Are In Control or Are They?

“The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes.” – Winston Churchill

In your accounting firms, software and computers have taken over many of the duties that were formerly done manually, preparing tax returns, figuring depreciation, etc. We have been warned that computers (robots, AI, etc) will take over even more of the routine accounting work. Never fear…

I was with a group recently, dining at a local restaurant. Several of the ladies had various coupons for discounts on their dinners and also wanted to take advantage of a “special” the restaurant was featuring.

The question was asked, “Can I use my coupon and also take advantage of the special?” The friendly, helpful server replied, “I can’t tell you for sure until we put it into the computer. The computer will tell us.” Interesting. So, I took from this that the computer was the ordering police allowing some orders and refusing others. I thought to myself, “Robots are in control!”

As it turned out, the friendly, helpful server informed us that my friends could take advantage of both “deals” because she had input the meal they ordered as a different meal and the computer allowed it!

So, you can now sleep at night knowing you can always resort to fooling the robots.

  • Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves.
  • Lord Byron

Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Client Service and Technology

“The team at your firm needs to know how to provide excellent client service. It should be clear to them what the firm’s expectation is and that you enable each person to provide excellent client service.” – Randy Johnston

I believe that excellent, over-the-top, client service is your best marketing strategy. Your clients will brag about you to others because that kind of client/customer service is rare these days.

I usually visit two groceries on a regular basis. One is huge and offers everything you could possibly need in the grocery category. The other is also a chain but a small, specialized type. The large one offers self-checkout and a few full-service lanes are open even though they have numerous ones that are always closed. The smaller one has no self-checkout. The clerks in the large one rarely talk to you and almost never smile. The clerks in the smaller one are always friendly, talkative and helpful. The large one has cheaper prices. The smaller one is usually slightly higher in price. Which one do I visit the most? You guessed it. Friendly, caring, engaging customer service out-weighs pricing.

Today,  am sending you to an article by Randy Johnston via CPA Practice Advisor. He gives us lots of technology tools to help with awesome client service.

He notes: But most of you who have been in business for a while recognize right away that there is a difference between academic smart, book smart, certification smart, common sense, clever, innovative and practical. 

And: How can we use technology to enable great client service? First, we should define what we want as our client service deliverable. Technology tools can make each client service interaction easier, more seamless and professional.

 

  • Just having satisfied customers isn’t good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create raving fans.
  • Ken Blanchard

Tuesday, May 7th, 2019

The Benefits of the Cloud

“Who cares about the clouds when we’re together? Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.” – Dale Evans

I often talk to firms who are still hesitating on whether to be “in the Cloud” or not. Most are still nervous about where their data will be and how it can be safer than it is on their own servers.

Roman Kepczyk has seen it all when it comes to CPA firm technology and has over thirty years of experience advising firms on technology matters. In his recent article via AccountingWeb, he gives you Seven Reasons Firm Workflow Should be in the Cloud.

Here are the seven reasons…. read the article to learn more about each reason:

  1. Remote Access
  2. Data Centralization
  3. Improved Collaboration
  4. Reduced Maintenance
  5. Improved Support
  6. Managed Cost
  7. Security

Conclusion: Firm owners need to educate themselves on how digital workflows and cloud technology can improve teamwork and client service. Discussing the seven items above before renewing any software license will allow the firm to focus more clearly on the optimal solutions that cloud provides.

  • Cloud computing is often far more secure than traditional computing, because companies like Google and Amazon can attract and retain cyber-security personnel of a higher quality than many governmental agencies.
  • Vivek Kundra

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

A Typical CPA Firm

“The idea that you will wake up tomorrow and everything that you know to be true about your practice is suddenly gone is a gross overstatement.” – Darren Root

While many profession leaders are warning CPAs that the typical public accounting firm is a dying breed and that its demise will happen rapidly, it is not what I observe in my consulting practice.

In the “typical” CPA firms I work with, there is definitely a need to become more digital and take advantage of the efficiencies that result. Most of these firms still do a lot of compliance work but also do a lot of true consulting work with their clients. I do expect them to make the transition into more of a consulting practice but I don’t expect it will happen rapidly.

That’s why I enjoyed reading Darren Root’s recent article via Accounting Today – The Traditional Is Still Very Much Alive.

Read it and see what you think. How will your firm make its way into the future?

  • Because technology and client demands will continue to push firms to adapt, we know that transformation, at some level, is inevitable.
  • Darren Root

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, November 30th, 2018

Last Chance to Participate – Digital Survey

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” – Frederick Douglass

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DIGITALLY DRIVEN SURVEY
In recognition of the evolving trends in digital operations, the CPAFMA 2019 Digitally Driven Firm Survey –  formerly the CPAFMA Paperless Benchmarking Survey, the longest-running paperless benchmarking survey in the accounting profession – is being conducted as an update to the Association’s 2017 survey. This important resource will be updated to provide you with the valuable, consistent benchmarking that we’ve all come to rely on upon through CPA Firm Management Association. Results of the survey will be included in future CPAFMA articles and resources, including a MAPCast in December 2018. Participants will be provided with an advanced copy of the results. Your participation as a firm management professional is crucial.
Please submit your responses no later than
Friday, November 30, 2018.
The survey takes between 10-15 minutes.

Click here to take the survey. Roman can’t hold his breath much longer!

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Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

Establish An Email Policy

“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” – Joshua J. Marine

Not sure why, but many CPAs seem to have a fascination with retaining emails. I have talked to some who admit that they have thousands in their inbox that might date back two or three years or more.

I like a comment in the article I featured last week about M&A and technology. An acquiring firm gets IT involved during due diligence to start educating the firm being acquired about retention policies. When your data comes over to the new system, all of your email older than six months will go away. You need to move client emails to the client file.

How would some of your partners feel about that? If you are a smaller firm and have not implemented these essential types of IT policies, start preparing now.

  • When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.
  • Helen Keller

Monday, August 27th, 2018

The Importance of Technology When Talking M&A

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

BoomerDuring the 2018 Boomer Technology Circles Summit, Jim Boomer moderated a panel discussion on best practices in mergers and acquisitions regarding technology. I know at my firm, the tech staff were involved early on in any merger discussions and often seemed to work magic.

Boomer has written a great summary of the discussions. THIS IS GREAT INFORMATION for anyone considering a merger. Be sure to read it!

Here are the questions that were explored:

How early does IT need to get involved in the due diligence process? And as an IT professional, how do you push to get involved?

We’ve counseled firms that the technology cost of acquiring a firm runs, on average, $10,000 per person. Is that consistent with your experience?

If there a time of year that’s best for making the integration fast and effective?

There’s a lot of talk about “rip and replace” strategy versus peeling off the bandage slowly. What’s the more effective method in your experience?

How long do you let legacy data ride? And what if the acquired firm’s technology spend wasn’t what you were told?

What are your top three priorities to have implemented on Day 1?

  • The human spirit must prevail over technology.
  • Albert Einstein