Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Monday, May 17th, 2021

The New CPA Exam

“The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” – Vidal Sassoon

They are changing the CPA Exam again. It is shifting to put an increased focus on technology. July 1, 2021 is when this shift in the Exam will take place.

From Accounting Today: As the accounting profession evolves to meet today’s needs, the Uniform CPA Examination is also evolving to reflect these industry changes. On July 1, 2021, the CPA exam is shifting significantly to put a heavier focus on technology, digital mindsets, data analytics, and the other skills that newly licensed CPAs need to succeed. Candidates preparing to take the CPA Exam must take these updates into consideration.

Here’s the informative article, What every candidate needs to know about the updated CPA exam, via Accounting Today. Read it and share it.

I wonder how many CPA partners could pass the exam if they had to take it in 2021. I have often heard partners joke about it (meaning they couldn’t pass it now, let alone after July 1).

  • Study while others are sleeping, Work while others are loafing, Prepare while others are playing, and Dream while others are wishing.
  • William Arthur Ward

Thursday, May 13th, 2021

How Your Office Might Look In The Future

“The best way to enjoy your job is to imagine yourself without one.” – Oscar Wilde

So many CPA firms have been planning how to return their employees to the office. The, not once long ago, open office layout that was so popular is now a thing of the past. Accounting firms don’t have to worry about that, they never made the switch to an open office anyway. Private offices have always been the dream of up-and-comers in accounting firms.

Private offices for everyone doesn’t seem to be a very workable plan either. Think futuristic and maybe follow some of the ideas Google is implementing. Google’s first office was a cluttered garage (like many tech start-ups).

Here are some of the things Google is doing:

  • Encourage (but not mandate) that employees be vaccinated before returning to the office.
  • Over the next year, they will try out new office designs.
  • They are designing “Team Pods.”
  • Meeting room concepts like Campfire where virtual employees will be joined with in-person employees (check out the article to see a picture).
  • In some areas, around the world, Google is building outdoor work areas.
  • Employees can return to their permanent desks on a rotation schedule to ensure that no one is there on the same day as their immediate desk neighbors.
  • There’s more! Read the full article here and see all the pictures. Be sure to watch the video of the balloon wall! I simply can’t visualize that in a CPA firm.

What is your plan? Don’t feel like you have to make a sweeping change all at once. Like Google, experiment with various options over the next six months or so. Keep your team informed and involved in the experiments. Be creative (and caring).

And, never forget you cannot please everyone.

  • If you take care of your immediate surroundings, the universe will take care of itself.
  • Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, September 21st, 2020

Tax Document Automation

“Automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates.

In his August 2020 column for CPA Practice Advisor, Randy Johnston gives you valuable information about automating your tax documents.

Many advisors seem to recommend the same tax automation strategies no matter what the size of your firm. Johnston suggests that one size does not fit all.

Did you have to send your administrative team into the office to scan documents so the staff could work remotely? This happened at many firms and put the admin team at risk for COVID.

In the article Johnston covers:

  • What is the right tax document automation?
  • What tools are most effective, provide the highest ROI, or are easy to miss?
  • Decide the right thing for you, your firm, and your clients.

Capitalize on Johnston’s helpful guidance by reading the article here.

  • The robots of the cartoons and movies from the 1970s are going to be the reality of the 2020s
  • Alec Ross

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020

It Takes More Than An Email

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain

Accounting firms have been faced with introducing a lot of new technologies recently. Some of it has been in almost an emergency mode.

But think back to how a new technology task was rolled-out BEFORE you were faced with COVID. I have observed that the technology team in accounting firms and the accountants speak two different languages.

Maybe the new technology task is something simple like how to log-in and work remotely. The IT team carefully put together a lengthy and elaborate email to explain how to do it. Simple.

Because the accountants didn’t quite understand all of the detailed instructions in the email, they emailed back with questions. The tech team answered, another email and another answer…. another email (of course “to all”) and another answer.

After about five or six back-and-forths, most people will just quit reading the emails.

Anytime you are implementing a new policy or procedure, whether it is about technology or tax processing, it takes more than an email. Communicate in person. Invite small groups of people to be trained face-to-face. You can do this using Zoom for your remote workers.

When you are all back in the office and can meet in larger groups, have the person responsible for the new tech, tax, or office procedure lead the session and answer all questions. Again, it takes more than an email.

  • I was training to be an electrician. I suppose I got wired the wrong way round somewhere along the line.
  • Elvis Presley

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