While it may seem counter intuitive, with the additional stress of client demands and time deadlines at this time of year, right now is the best time to start planning a technology implementation strategy. In fact, when the firm is at its busiest is the perfect opportunity to:
- First, observe your processes
- Second, discover places where technology can increase your efficiencies
- Third, start planning to implement those tools
After all, the pace of technology change in the accounting industry continues to accelerate in 2020. Therefore, there’s no time like the present to determine your technology implementation strategy.
Processes to Observe
With this in mind, prior to adopting any new technology, it is critical to understand your current processes. That is the best way to ensure upcoming changes will help drive the firm forward. To clarify, here are some areas to observe:
- One, client data requests – How are staff members coordinating data requests with clients? Do team members inefficiently search through multiple email messages to find information? How do these processes impact client satisfaction?
- Two, remote access – How, and how often, are staff members accessing information when working outside of the office? Do teams always have the most current version of information? What software tools are currently in place to accommodate this?
- Three, automation – Could repetitive tasks be automated to create more time for addressing client needs? Who would create the automation?
Wolters Kluwer Solutions
To that end, Wolters Kluwer offers solutions that help firms maximize efficiency and improve client service. For example, Engagement Organizer is included at no additional charge with CCH ProSystem fx Engagement. This cloud-based PBC list provides an automated way to request documents from clients, track the progress, and insert workpapers directly into a binder. Clients upload documents to Engagement Organizer versus responding to multiple emails.
Notably, for firms with remote team members, cloud-based solutions can be advantageous. Specifically, cloud-based solutions eliminate the need to install and manage software locally. Also, they can increase the security of data. In particular, CCH Axcess Financial Prep is a cloud-based trial balance solution for preparing business tax returns. Additionally, it integrates with CCH Axcess Tax. Or, depending on your needs, CCH Axcess Knowledge Coach is an audit solution that provides all the necessary practice aids for risk assessment, performing testing, and review. Indeed, these solutions increase collaboration among the engagement team by allowing real time access to information.
Furthermore, repetitive procedures can also be automated. For example, TeamMate Analytics‘s Expert Analyzer includes several predefined workflows based on financial statement area. Simply run them on any engagement and your team will save a significant amount of set up time. Moreover, with TeamMate Analytics you can import PDF files into Microsoft Excel for more detailed analysis.
Getting Started with a Technology Implementation Strategy
To sum up, investing the time now to understand your firm’s current processes will highlight opportunities where technology can help, and should be a key part of your technology implementation strategy. Doing that now will give you a jump-start on implementing those technologies after tax season. And that’s a great first step.
Don’t stop there, though. Ultimately, ongoing education is how the most successful firms stay on top of the latest technology that could benefit their firm. Here’s a recording of an Audit Talks – LIVE session, for example, that discusses challenges created by ‘audit of the future’ and solutions to meet those challenges. Listening to it is a great next step in your ongoing education. Just click here to get to that recording.
P.S. Also consider reading Overcome Tax Season Challenges. It compliments this blog’s content.