|John H. Higgins,
CPA Crossings, LLC
What does it mean and why you should pursue it
I am currently serving as an advisor to a small accounting and tax practice to help them “go paperless.” They know they need to change the way they process their engagements, but they aren’t really sure why and they definitely don’t know how. This is a very common scenario these days. We are in the midst of an unavoidable transition in how CPA firms get their work done and deliver their client services. Many firms have moved well down this path, past the heavy lifting of “change” and are appreciating the benefits of leveraging technology to get their work done. On the other hand, there are a substantial number of small firms and sole practitioners who simply have not been able to dedicate the time and resources necessary to focus on using technology to increase efficiency and productivity. As the classic saying goes, they are too busy working in the business and not working on the business.
The big deal in accounting firm technology for the past ten years has been “going paperless”, driving paper out of the processes and focusing on doing everything online. One of the challenges in making this transition is that most practitioners like working with paper. They are comfortable with it, they identify with it, and they know how to work with it. So they have to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the benefits of transitioning to paperless workflows is worth the pain of the change. If you don’t believe in the value of the alternative approach, you will unlikely have a successful transition.
Our approach in advising CPA firms in this area is to articulate the value proposition of “going digital”, which is another way to refer to the process of “going paperless.” We do not have the space here to articulate all of the benefits of going digital, trust me, there are many. The main benefit is that if you can structure your workflows to capture, process, store and disseminate all of your data and information in digital format, you open up a whole new world of opportunity to maximize efficiency and profitability, provide more relevant and innovative client services and increase the appeal of your firm to the quality professionals you want to join your team. Looking out even further, going digital will directly increase the value of your firm from the perspective of your succession plan.
A big part of the challenge with making this transformation is in understanding what to do and how to go about it. In our book; Ten Steps to a Digital Practice in the Cloud, we articulate ten key initiatives that you need to complete to become a fully digital practice. These initiatives include moving your server infrastructure to the cloud, outfitting your professional staff with the “CPA technology toolkit”, implementing a document management system, workflow application and client portal and more.
Download the complimentary Excerpt from Chapter 2, which covers the Strategic View of IT Model – Infrastructure, Software Applications, Business Processes, Staff and Clients