Here at Aldridge, we’ve worked with a variety of CPA firms to help them find the right technology solutions to fit their business. Often, these companies are eager to adopt the latest software application or innovative offering without realizing the actual time and cost required to implement the technology. If you’re a financial firm, the security of your data and systems is integral to your relationship with clients. Without proper evaluation, the premature adoption of a new technology offering may lead to legal penalties and financial losses. Your firm must have a concrete understanding of its business goals and know-how technology can be utilized to facilitate them. Our experts have identified three CPA firm technology trends that align with the goals of most CPA firms we’ve worked with.
CPA firm technology trend 1: Automation leads the financial industry
In your CPA firm, you’re likely more than familiar with the pains of data entry and finding the information you need, when you need it. There are new software applications and solution offerings developed every day that cater to the needs of financial firms. Such solutions can do everything from automatically import tax data, to easily record and locate documents necessary for an audit. For example, applications such as HubDoc and Bill.com are cloud-hosted tools designed to automatically import financial information from statements associated with your bank and credit card accounts. Quickbooks is another common software application used by CPA firms to automatically import financial data. While such developments allow CPA firms to reduce the number of time employees spend entering numbers and tracking important documents, accountants are now responsible for troubleshooting, managing, and integrating new applications without impairing the business. The responsibilities associated with overseeing the technology can equate to a full-time job that distracts from the core competencies of your business. Today, small to medium-sized firms are at a greater risk for network invasion than a large enterprise because they simply do not have the in-house resources to protect their network and manage the integrated technologies within it. While automation tools can save time and money in the short-term, it’s important to remember that a hasty implementation can result in more cost than benefit.
CPA firm technology trend 2: Cloud services continue to gain traction among CPAs
Cloud computing has been a hot topic for CPA firms debating the security and cost implications of the technology. Like law firms, CPA firms work within the bounds of compliance restrictions and client specifications. According to the 2016 National Management of an Accounting Practice survey, researchers found that the use of cloud technology among CPA firms grew from 48% in 2014 to 56% in 2016. Software as a service (SaaS) technologies were the most popular cloud tools among the companies surveyed as 70% indicated they used a SaaS solution in some way. SaaS solutions allow you to license and use software that is hosted in the cloud without having to manage the installation and updates of the software. In the past, CPA firms were more apt to keep their data onsite. However, as the technology has developed to accommodate data-sensitive companies, the abilities to transfer business-sensitive information between organizations, efficiently bill time, and easily locate document records when needed have been integrated into a variety of software solutions. Cloud application providers generally handle patches, updates, and network security management thus, allowing a CPA firm to focus on more strategic elements of the business to improve client relationships and business processes. The growing trust between firms and Cloud solution providers will fuel the adoption of cloud services by CPA firms as 2017 continues. As security features advance and Cloud becomes a standard for business practice, there will likely be an increasing number of CPA firms implementing cloud computing into their organizations.
CPA firm technology trend 3: Technology Overload
When we’re talking to CPA firms, we’ve noticed the biggest mistake firms tend to make is buying into a technology tool too quickly. Often, firms fall victim to the misleading claims made by software vendors and pay more to accommodate a new technology than its projected ROI. Any time your organization changes the technology you use, you are essentially changing the way your users work. An application may offer advantages that appear to save time and enhance productivity, but it’s important to keep in mind how such changes will impact the business both in the short and long term. Before adopting a new application or system, your firm should begin assessing its value by asking the following questions:
- What applications does your firm currently use?
- How will the new technology integrate with your current IT environment?
- What security and compliance regulations are you required to follow?
- What security measures need to be taken to safely integrate the new tool?
- Will any additional hardware or technology purchases be required to integrate and deploy the technology?
- How much downtime will your business endure when implementing the tool?
- What is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of the technology?
- Are your clients ok with their information being stored in the cloud?
- Does your firm have the resources to implement the technology?
Every firm is different, and these are only a few of the questions your organization should ask to determine the true benefit of integrating new technology. If your team is unsure about an application or system, ask for advice! Expert consulting can help your firm avoid wasting money and time by directing your business to the right solution for your unique structure and needs. Our IT consulting team has worked with a variety of CPA firms to help identify what technology is best for their business. If you’re looking for information about the latest, most effective IT solutions, contact us today.