For accounting and CPA firms, time is money. Every hour spent dealing with recurring IT issues, data loss, security breaches, and so on, is billable time wasted. The challenges facing your industry today are unique, and so is the way you do business. Your IT solution should meet your company’s current and future needs while safeguarding client data and adhering to industry compliance standards every step of the way.
When we talk to accounting and CPA firms, we often find that their technology and business pains can be traced back to a poor IT strategy that fails to address IT security and future business objectives. This lack of planning gets in the way of their success, maybe not in the beginning, but eventually. Whether productivity is stalled by a large-scale data breach, or employees constantly facing small, recurring issues that never seem to get fixed, lost time is lost opportunity.
Today, a positive technology experience is key to creating a productive and motivating work environment for employees. When your team has the right tools and knows how to make the best use of their technology, they can work together to deliver a quality customer experience and promote trust across the organization and with those it serves.
Focus on Improving Your Business, Not Your IT
You can’t be an expert in everything. But, you are the expert in your business, its operations, and the challenges employees face as they work to meet their goals. IT Strategy and IT Security are two components of the Aldridge Framework for Successful IT Operations. While they are essential to maximizing the value of your technology investment and human capital while minimizing business risk, they cannot stand alone.
IT Design, Implementation, and Support are equally important, and each pillar must rest on a strong foundation of security, business knowledge, technology expertise, and the considerations and trends specific to your industry. Building the best-fit IT strategy for your unique business requires your leadership members to work closely with your IT team. It takes meaningful conversations and time for discovery to outline a clear plan, build a strong foundation, execute an organized implementation, and support and protect your business, its people, and your customers.
A valuable IT provider will combine their technology and business expertise to unveil hidden issues and identify opportunities for innovation and success. An IT Outsourcing company capable of building the best-fit IT framework for your success should…
- Proactively plan with your leadership team regarding risks and key business opportunities coming 18-24 months down the road
- Have knowledge of your industry and the relevant technologies to enable them to design solutions that support your business initiatives and budget
- Execute the implementation of technology that improves productivity and delivers results on time and on budget
- Pay close attention to the business best-practices and technology trends shaping your industry, and share these insights with your leadership team
- Have the appropriate skill set and scale to support, educate and help your employees leverage technology to be more productive
Outsourced IT services can provide benefits for accounting and CPA firms looking to keep up with evolving compliance and industry standards while enhancing employee productivity and driving customer satisfaction. In other words, the right IT provider can help your company decrease the time spent dealing with IT issues or limitations that can put a pause on employee productivity or throw a wrench in the plan to roll out new business initiatives and the technology necessary to support these goals.
Leverage IT Solutions That INCREASE Billable Hours
Your MSP or internal IT team should help your business improve efficiencies and proactively develop solutions that remove obstacles from the path to growth. Your technology should work for your business to streamline operations and do so more securely and efficiently than before.
CPAs and accountants rely on the functionality of their technology to provide a valuable service to their clients. How employees feel about their technology experience is directly related to the quality of your customer experience they are likely to deliver.
Yes, it’s necessary to uphold your IT security and compliance best practices. But you need to be able to balance security, business continuity, and technology functionality successfully.
Work From Anywhere, at Any Time Without Missing a Beat
Accounting and CPA firms rely on the mobility of their data and important files to serve clients at any time and from any location, whether they’re working from home or meeting at a client’s office.
In any case, you need to be able to trust that you have quick and easy access to the most accurate, up-to-date information and that it remains protected when you access your files and systems outside of your company network.
As an example, we help accounting and CPA firms leverage technology like SharePoint, Teams, and other Microsoft 365 products to make the most of their IT solutions so their people can accomplish more. Check out our blog “How Accounting & CPA Firms Can Connect and Collaborate Using Microsoft 365” to learn more about what Microsoft 365 can offer your firm.
Create a Strategy to Balance IT Security and Productivity
We know that your team needs to move from their office, to a client’s location, and to their home, and they must do so quickly, compliantly, and with cybersecurity awareness top of mind. Most importantly, they need to be able to do so in a way that provides a positive experience for them and the clients they serve.
According to Norton Life Lock’s Cyber Safety Insights Report Global Results, 74% of U.S. survey respondents agreed they were more concerned than ever before about their online privacy. However, despite the high levels of concern, 69% of respondents reported tolerating risks to their online identity for more convenient access to their accounts and applications.
While 84% of those surveyed have taken at least one step to protect their online information and identity, most reported taking basic steps like clearing cookies and limiting personal information shared on social accounts. Few are going the extra mile and enabling easy-to-use tools like Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) if it’s not required.
IT security awareness is a key piece of an effective IT security strategy because it combines the right level of technology controls, proactive monitoring and response protocols, and most importantly, employee understanding of the threats that exist, how to identify these risks, and the best way to respond to prevent or remediate a security incident.
Employees need to know how to protect data from external threats, such as phishing scams, hackers, etc. Your people are the gatekeepers of your company’s valuable information. It takes ongoing IT security awareness training, policies, procedures, tools, regular testing, and remediation training to prioritize cybersecurity and IT security best-practices in everything they do. These best practices extend to internal as well as external threats. If an employee leaves your firm, what automated security policies, off-boarding protocols, and other risk mitigation standards are in place to prevent your valuable data from walking out with them?
We outline the basic components of building a cybersecurity awareness culture in our infographic, Employee IT Security Awareness Training, and Best Practices. Quickly brush up on the threats your business faces today, find out what you can do to help your team members identify and respond to potential threats, and mitigate costly business risks.
You’re Protecting Your Client’s Data, So Should Your IT Vendor
You already understand the need for compliance within your firm. You value building trust with your clients and are working every day to protect their sensitive information and give them peace of mind knowing their financial data is in safe hands.
At Aldridge, we saw value in devoting the time and resources required to complete the SOC 2 Type 2 audit and reporting process. By becoming SOC 2 Type 2 certified, we can show our clients what we are doing to protect their business and our own. This transparency grants our clients peace of mind to focus on their core business.
“Completing the readiness exercise and audit process required a significant investment of money and time, but it was worth it. The audit helps us confirm that our house is in order and that we continue to implement the same processes and controls that we recommend to our clients.“
— Patrick Wiley, Aldridge CEO
Read more about SOC 2 Type 2 compliance and why it’s especially crucial for forward-looking business leaders to consider when choosing an IT outsourcing provider.
Leverage IT Consulting From a Partner Who Understands Your Industry and Your Business
A key benefit of outsourcing IT services is the ability to leverage a provider that includes Fractional Chief Information Officer (CIO) services in their offering that gives your company access to both an IT consultant and a strategic partner who understands your industry and your specific business needs.
Your assigned CIO’s technology expertise should extend beyond the technology you use, to how you use it, why, and what you’re trying to accomplish by leveraging your investment technology changes and tools. The CIO’s primary focus, and driving KPI, should be your business’s success, however you define it. The CIO is responsible for not only focusing on how to optimize your existing technology but for providing recommendations for how to leverage both your current tools and technology advancements to improve how you do business going forward. As your business changes, your technology needs to not only keep up but play an active role in enabling those changes.
If your technology is getting in the way of your business, it may not be the technology you use, but how you’re using it. At Aldridge, we offer IT Outsourcing and Managed Services for accounting and CPA firms looking to enhance productivity and security across their organizations. Schedule time to talk with an Aldridge representative about your business pains and goals. We can help point you in the right direction so you can maximize the value of your technology and give your employees the tools they need to accomplish more.