How to Transform CPA Firms Through Technology?

August 07, 2012 /

CPAs are all about the numbers. Yet with the rise of cloud computing and constant availability of mobile devices, there’s been a big shift in the way tech-savvy practices compile, analyze and deliver financial data for clients.

Most firm leaders know there are significant advantages to automating their business processes and adopting digital technology. What’s been missing is a no-nonsense roadmap to guide them through the process. Now that gap has been filled with “10 Steps to a Digital Practice in the Cloud: New Levels of CPA Firm Workflow Efficiency,” a how-to guide written by two accounting tech experts and published by the American Institute of CPAs.

“The greatest challenge with technology today is the abundance of choices from which you can select,” write the co-authors, John Higgins and Bryan Smith, both CPAs who hold the Certified Information Technology Professional credential.

Firms need to have a comprehensive technology plan, Higgins said, because “it’s very easy to invest in the wrong solutions at the wrong time.” That can be expensive, both in terms of dollars and staff time lost, he said.

“The accounting profession has developed a good understanding of the concept of cloud computing, but not its value proposition,” Higgins said. “Firms often have difficulty seeing the strategic value of technology.”

In the book, the authors try to convey that value while also offering practical, nuts-and-bolts advice for getting a digital practice up and running. So what are the 10 steps?

Get the right technology infrastructure to leverage the cloud.

Provision enough internet bandwidth, both wired and wireless, to operate effectively.

Select the right mix of desktops, laptops, mobile devices and software solutions – what the authors call a “CPA technology toolkit” – to function in a productive, cost-effective way.

Install the right scanning solutions to aid the shift to a paperless office.

Deploy a Document Management System to maximize efficiency with digital records.

Use Trial Balance working paper software, if your firm performs many of these engagements.

Transform your website into a full-fledged client portal.

Maximize productivity with workflow software.

Offer your clients cloud-based accounting systems.

Have the right plan and tools in place to ensure data security and speedy disaster recovery.

 

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