Tips for Managing Information Technology in Accounting Firms

Over the past decade, tax and accounting firms have reported remarkably consistent business concerns. Although individual issues may shift in where they rank from year to year, there is wide agreement that many of the top issues the firms are facing are directly related to information technology.

In a recent webinar, Wolters Kluwer product manager Nake Sekander talked with Craig Rhinehart, CIO of Robinson Grimes, a Top 300 firm based in Columbus, Georgia about the role of the CIO, and the various information technology challenges facing firms today. Their conversation touched on four areas.

On when to bring information technology in-house

Typically, the decision to bring information technology in-house depends primarily on firm size. Firms with more than 20 employees are most likely to consider in-house I.T. But smaller firms that have multiple locations may also consider it. In addition, firms that prefer to stay on the leading edge of technology are more likely to have in-house IT resources. Regardless, Rhinehart recommends maintaining a relationship with a local I.T. vendor for special projects, additional expertise, or back-up help when needed.

Staying ahead of security risks

According to Rhinehart, the biggest information security challenge is that threats are so varied and change so quickly. Once you’ve protected against one type of attack, a new one pops up. That’s why firms need to work closely with staff to ensure all staff are aware of best practices for protecting data. Security training can no longer be a once-a-year task to check off and forget about. Firms need to put processes in place to respond to threats on the fly, so they can quickly adapt and warn staff as needed.

Turning data into business intelligence

Firms create and store many kinds of data in their systems. However, making sense out of it can be a challenge. Choosing a digital platform that can be the base for your firm’s information systems can make it easier to get the big picture from your data. In addition, an open system makes sharing data between programs easier. Once the data is connected, a data visualization tool can help display the information in ways that can help firms uncover insights and intelligence.

Strategic planning for information technology

To be truly strategic about information technology, firms need to plan around short- and long-term outcomes. Firms should involve IT resources in the strategic discussions from the start. They should not make plans and then hand them off to be executed. Whether in-house or outsourced, a firm’s I.T. resources can be valuable in the planning process. Software vendors can also be partners. If possible, keep the lines of communication open with your software vendors. Provide feedback and make suggestions for features and enhancements that would help your firm. You might be surprised at the impact you can make.

Find out how information technology is helping firms transform and grow. Download the ebook, The Future is Now: Advanced Technologies Making an Impact Today.

 

AUTHOR

Aimee Hall

Product Marketing Manager at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting

All stories by: Aimee Hall