Today’s technology offers many opportunities for accounting and CPA firms to improve operations and gain an edge over their competitors. However, how, and when companies leverage technology is key to driving the ROI of their IT investments. As a business leader, you’re faced with several decisions around topics and departments in which you may not always be an expert. In addition, it’s not always cost-effective to maintain such expertise in-house. IT consulting services, like an outsourced Fractional Chief Information Officer (CIO), are helping growing businesses leverage the expertise and resources of an enterprise-level firm without the cost of a full-time employee.
By investing in IT consulting services, accounting and CPA firms get access to a seasoned IT professional with experience helping other companies in their industry achieve successful IT.
For IT to be successful in your firm, we believe there are fundamental pieces that must be effectively covered in your IT solution. IT consulting is only one piece and must operate in tandem with IT design, implementation, support, and security. Each of these elements cannot stand alone and are key to building a best-fit IT solution capable of supporting your needs and business growth today and over the next few years. We refer to this structure as the Aldridge Framework for Successful IT, which we use to guide our service delivery approach when providing Fractional CIO consulting and IT outsourcing to the accounting firms we serve.
Have a Clear Technology Roadmap and Budget for Successful IT
Many accounting and CPA firms can map their business technology pains to one core issue: a lack of a clear IT strategy and direction. Generally, they either have an internal IT team without the time and business expertise to provide the appropriate level of IT consulting, or they’re outsourcing to a provider whose IT consulting services are not delivered by a resource that meets the criteria of a CIO-level consultant. In either case, the firms experience surprise IT costs, unplanned downtime, and time wasted fighting their technology as a result. At a high level, your firm’s CIO should work with your leadership team to understand your business’s goals, strengths, opportunities, and weaknesses. They should then use this information to map out an 18–24-month strategic IT roadmap and budget that takes the ebbs and flows of your business into account.
For example, when it comes time for tax filing season and your team is working against the clock to meet deadlines, they won’t be burdened by IT project initiatives or unnecessary downtime. Employees will have the IT support they need for timely resolution and your leadership team will have the peace-of-mind they need to focus on the core business.
IT consulting services should be an ongoing effort to align your technology with your business strategy. Your CIO should hold regular meetings with your team to address your firm’s IT risks and opportunities, as well as the current state of your business. It’s crucial that your CIO stays informed about your business pains and goals to ensure your IT roadmap and budget remain aligned with the direction of the organization. The following sections outline a few of the benefits IT consulting services can provide your business.
Maximize the Value of Your Accounting Firm’s Technology
Business technology is rapidly evolving, and the amount of innovative new software and application offerings is exponentially increasing. Your accounting firm’s employees are experts in what they do, not in the technology they use. As technology’s role in business continues to grow, companies are realizing the necessity of strategic consulting to select the right technology and position IT investments for success long-term.
An effective CIO will maximize the value technology brings to your business by ensuring that you are leveraging the right technology, at the right time, and at an appropriate cost. They should vet current and potential technology to ensure you’re not paying for more than you need and identify opportunities to leverage new technology to improve efficiency and address problems you didn’t know existed. For example, if you’re already paying for Microsoft 365, you may not be utilizing all the features it has to offer.
Your CIO may help you cut the time spent on day-to-day redundant tasks like scheduling meetings with clients by using simple automation tools like Microsoft Bookings. This change empowers your clients by giving them direct access to your calendar while giving your team more time to spend on strategic tasks that add value to your business. Essentially, IT consulting services enable your firm to do more with the resources you already have and position your organization to maximize the value of your IT investments in the future. The solutions they implement should work to increase billable hours and facilitate a high-quality customer service experience across your firm, often leading to cost savings as a result.
Ensure Accounting Firm’s Data and Client Financial Information is Protected
When it comes to IT security, accounting and CPA firms are much more sensitive about protecting their data and systems than other companies. The compliance and industry standards shaping their industry have little tolerance for risk and require accounting and CPA firms to take a proactive approach to data governance and cybersecurity.
As noted previously, IT consulting is only one piece of the Aldridge Framework for Successful IT. IT security spans across all elements and is fundamental to ensuring the health of a business and its reputation. At Aldridge, we encourage our clients to perform routine IT audits and host regular meetings with their leadership team and dedicated Fractional CIO, so any changes to the business’s IT environment and executive team’s vision are accounted for as both your business and the cybersecurity threat landscape continue to evolve.
Your CIO should have a big-picture view of your current and potential IT security risks and incorporate a plan for remediating these risks within your IT roadmap. The IT security solution you have in place should protect your firm’s sensitive business and client data while maintaining compliance standards and functionality in the process. Further, your IT outsourcing provider should maintain the appropriate levels of IT security and compliance standards within their own organization. At Aldridge, we saw the value of investing in a SOC 2 Type 2 audit and certification to provide peace-of-mind to the accounting and CPA firms we serve.
To learn more about our decision to become SOC 2 Type 2 Compliant, read our blog, SOC 2 Type 2 Compliance for Accounting and CPA Firms.
Enhance Your Competitive Edge & Embrace Opportunity
A true CIO will work with your leadership team to keep you informed about new technology, best practices, IT trends, and emerging threats you need to know to stay competitive in your industry. Yes, they should optimize costs, manage risks, and work to improve efficiency across your organization, but they should also provide your firm with the information and resources you need to stay relevant. While today’s businesses are increasingly reliant on technology, few firms are leveraging the IT consulting services of a true CIO to position IT for success. A Deloitte study found that businesses that are properly leveraging available technology earn two times more revenue per employee and have four times higher revenue growth than those who do not. Without the right level of IT consulting, accounting and CPA firms often find themselves taking an ad-hoc approach to IT. They may be implementing the right tools but lack a strategic approach for how and when they leverage their technology in a way that provides the most value. Often, they waste more billable hours implementing and understanding new technology than they get back in return, resulting in a poor technology experience for both employees and the clients they serve.
Our Fractional CIO consulting services offer accounting and CPA firms the IT consulting and strategic planning resources they need to gain an edge over their competitors. We help the accounting and CPA firms get more done with the resources they have by implementing the right technology initiatives at the right time. We understand that an informed decision is a valuable decision, which is why we actively work with clients to understand their business build an IT roadmap that aligns with their vision for success.
To learn more about our IT managed services and Fractional CIO consulting, schedule time to speak with a member of the Aldridge team.