Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Monday, May 11th, 2020

News About Rootworks & Right Networks

“You make different colors by combining those colors that already exist.” – Herbie Hancock

Two “works” are becoming one – Right Networks has acquired Darren Roots’ organization, Rootworks.

This combination will be of interest to probably hundreds (or thousands) of firms using these organizations.

Here’s a quote from Root whose organization boasts 700 member firms – –

“We’ve been growing rapidly over the last several years, with over 700 member firms today,” Darren Root said of Rootworks. “And we’ve been evolving on the technology side. We provide a business model for the modern firm, and we help educate firms for that business model; but we also have a platform that helps accountants organize and grow that firm. Being able to leverage Right Networks’ long history of solid security and infrastructure and customer service will greatly benefit our member firms.”

Here’s the article describing the combination via Accounting Today:

  • When it seems that someone has shattered your dreams..pick up even the smallest of pieces and use them to build bigger and better dreams.
  • Jeremy Irons

Monday, April 27th, 2020

Be A Good Zoom Citizen

“A man’s manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

You have been participating in Zoom calls for a while now. Are you a good Zoom citizen?

I don’t often post a complete Seth Godin post but I think this one will be helpful to many of you working in CPA firms.

Zoom Tips For The Modern Age

If you’ve ever joined more than three people on a Skype or Zoom conference call, I hope you’ll appreciate these tips, and perhaps share them:

  1. Sit close to the screen. Your face should fill most of it.
  2. Use an external microphone or headset. Regardless of how you’re amplified, remember that the microphone is only a foot away, which means you don’t have to strain or raise your voice. Also, consider Krisp if you have background noise issues.
  3. When you’re not talking, hit mute. If you’re on mute, press and hold the space bar and you can be heard.
  4. Don’t eat during the meeting.
  5. When you’re on mute during an audio call, you can do whatever you want. But when you’re on mute on a video call, you need to act like you’re truly engaged. Nod your head. Focus on the screen. Don’t get up and feed your dog.
  6. Don’t sit with the window behind you. A little effort on lighting goes a very long way.
  7. When you’re talking, spend some time looking at the camera, not the screen. You’ll appear more earnest and honest this way.
  8. When you’re talking, go slow. No one is going to steal your slot.
  9. Don’t walk if you’re using a phone. And if you’re using a laptop, don’t put it on your lap.
  10. Please (!) do not use an animated background. Do not use a funny one either. If we’re noticing your background, you’re doing it wrong.

These are obvious. They are generous. They’re effective.

And almost no one puts in the effort to consistently deliver on them. It’s worth it.

  • Rudeness is the weak person's imitation of strength.
  • Eric Hoffer

Tuesday, November 19th, 2019

Offering Client Accounting Services

“Technology is, of course, a double-edged sword. Fire can cook our food but also burn us.” – Jason Silva

It has been a really hot service offering for many firms over the last couple of years. I am talking about CAS (or whatever name your firm calls it).

You can’t provide CAS without the technology to support it. Make sure you are budgeting properly for technology in 2020.

I was reading over my list of current trends in the accounting profession for 2019 and this one caught my attention. I hope it captures yours, too.

Developing Client Accounting Services – The firm that assembles the numbers will see the advisory opportunities first, and that firm will likely be the most trusted business advisor in the long term.

  • Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation.
  • Dean Kamen

Tuesday, October 8th, 2019

Staying Safe Online

“The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.” – Tacitus

As the old saying goes, “It’s a jungle out there!” It sure seems to apply to the internet.

Jared Clarke, privacy advocate & tech writer, made me aware of his VERY informative article, Ultimate Privacy Guide (How to stay safe online).

Complete privacy on the internet is virtually impossible, and any services that claim to offer it are bending the truth.

However, anyone can improve their privacy online by adapting their on-line habits, like choosing privacy-focused online services and limiting the volume of information, they store on the internet.

In this privacy internet guide, we’ll show you how to protect internet privacy against threats.

As you read the article, be sure to note the top three basic mistakes users follow repeatedly. He also shares his Top 10 Online Privacy Tips.

 

  • The best safety lies in fear.
  • William Shakespeare

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 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