Progressive. Enlightened. Bold and Dynamic. These are just a few of the synonyms you would find in Oxford Dictionaries if you were to look up “forward-thinking” or “forward-looking.” The degree of success firms enjoy in terms of business growth and profitability is closely tied with their attitudes about technology adoptions, the solutions they have chosen to implement, and the degree of integration and automation they have introduced into their business processes.
Technology can be used to alleviate all kinds of challenges in the business, depending on the firm’s goals. But certainly not all firms have the same goals. For example, not all firms want to add more clients. Some firms will focus on doing more valuable work for their existing clients. Other firms want to do more work with the same or fewer staff. Or they want to do the same amount of work, while cutting back overtime hours to provide improved work/life balance. Still others may way to focus on expanding into new verticals or even niche markets. Whatever goals your business is trying to achieve, progressive technology solutions may exist (or could be developed) to help you reach those goals, if you know the solutions exist, that is.
Let’s talk a little bit about the most common staffing challenge we all face – doing more with less. One approach to attempting to solve this problem is through the use of automation. However, not all process can be easily automated, and some may be easier to automate than others. In fact, even the phrase “automation” itself is not really concrete. It’s more of a sliding scale with levels ranging from no automation at all on one end to full automation on the other end of the spectrum. The levels in-between are where we see most technology solutions today. Something else to keep in mind is that different products are at different places in their life cycle. And some processes are better candidates than others or can be taken to higher levels of automation more quickly than others.
Collaboration is one of the biggest efficiency promoters out there. Collaboration can refer to internal collaboration between co-workers. It can also refer to collaborating with your clients. But how do you actually improve collaboration? How do you get people to want to collaborate? Well, thankfully, I believe that’s just built into human nature. We are a very social species, and we naturally want to be social with and to collaborate with others. We just need the right tools to do it. And that’s where software vendors, application developers, and in-house IT come into play. Our job is to create progressive technology that allows you to more easily collaborate with each other and with your clients.
Client Portal solutions have been around for over a decade, but only recently have they started expanding to provide a more complete end-to-end solution for your clients. Clients are demanding more than basic file-sharing capabilities. They want to be able to view and pay their invoice. They want to be able to send in business and personal documents. And they want to have greater clarity into the progress of return’s preparation.
New Solutions for More Modernized Processes
This year we’ve introduced a few new client-facing enhancements that will help improve the client experience. The new e-payments functionality in CCH Axcess Practice lets clients pay their invoices electronically through the CCH Client Axcess Portal.
And the new Engagement Organizer feature provides firms with a customizable electronic PBC (Provided by Client) Request List for clients to upload their requested documents. Both the firm and the client can track the progress as clients send files to the accountant. Engagement Organizer was built in such a way that makes it very easy to bring in these customer-uploaded documents into CCH ProSystem fx Engagement. Featuring a customizable questionnaire, notes and progress tracking, it’s never been easier for audit clients to work with their firm.
We know that many clients want and expect these kinds of progressive electronic tools when they work with their accountants. And not only are clients more satisfied, but the integration and automation on the firm side makes everyone more efficient.