What are your firm’s goals for 2020?
As summer winds down, that ‘back to school’ vibe energizes our work as well. It’s a time of new ideas and initiatives, and not too early to start building out technology and practice management plans for your accounting firm in 2020.
Successful annual planning requires dedicated time and focus. How can firm owners and partners carve out the time to research the technology solutions to support firm goals? We suggest that you consider doing your research for a 2020 firm technology plan while at Accountex USA, where you’ll have access to educational content, CPE credit, and the industry’s best technology and practice management advisors. The AbacusNext team will be there, and we are looking forward to meeting with you at Booth #721.
In this post we’ll share several of the key initiatives and goals that tax and accounting firms tell us they are pursuing. No matter where you are on the journey to digital transformation in your firm, one or more of these goals may be on your list.
Goal: Organize information flow throughout the firm
Many firms struggle with maintaining paper files for client taxes, paper slips to track phone messages, and an administrative burden of printing, packaging and shipping document sets to clients to gather signatures, or to close out a return. They can’t respond quickly to client requests by phone, because the file can’t be located quickly enough to handle the question.
Workflow software solves these problems. With OfficeTools accountants and staff can instantly see the status of specific tasks, and can delegate tasks to team members who are under-utilized. Every project, assignment, and appointment is readily available via shared calendars.
The activity list in OfficeTools functions like an inbox for all open items to be completed. Phone calls that need to be made, projects that need to be worked on, or an approaching scheduled appointment are at your fingertips. Time once spent manually tracking tasks and deadlines is now freed up, allowing accountants to focus on building client relationships and conducting billable work.
Goal: Reduce revenue leakage
When accountants don’t track time, even if we use a value billing model, visibility to time allocation is lost, and certainly some billable hours are lost as well. Accurate time tracking helps firm managers better understand how resources are being used, and therefore the cost of service delivery. OfficeTools makes time tracking so easy that staff members capture more billing detail. Tracking time can be done anywhere in the program, even on your mobile device, and synced back to the office for payroll, billing, or both.
Two time views, daily or weekly are available to streamline key punching. All time is synchronized within OfficeTools software for purposes of reporting, payroll and client billings.
Before you head out to Accountex, capture your time and billing challenges. An OfficeTools expert will be glad to talk with you at Accountex about how we can help you realize your goals.
Goal: Cultivate stronger client relationships online
Clients increasingly request the ability to engage services, collaborate and share information with the firm online. Get started right at the outset of the new client relationship.
Our client intake/check-in system allows clients to change basic contact information right from OfficeTools Client Portal. Update from the firm’s lobby when checking-in at the reception area. No more clipboards and re-keying information. Add a simple customized tax questionnaire to the process for both lobby and online clients.
While you’re at the AbacusNext booth, ask about other great OfficeTools features that will delight clients, including appointment requests, bill payment, job completion and client messaging.
Goal: Increase data security, reduce cyberrisk
Accounting industry professional standards set forth obligations on members in public practice to protect confidential client data. In the event of an unauthorized data breach, regulators would consider whether the firm had processes and procedures in place to secure client data, and whether data protection processes were kept current and effectively communicated to employees.
Whether your key applications for practice management, time & billing, tax preparation and other core functions are hosted by a private hosting service or accessed in the cloud, be sure they meet stringent security standards. As you consider new applications, ask your hosting provider to provide detailed information on their security capabilities.
Factors to consider include:
- Is the provider a full-spectrum electronic protected health information (ePHI) and HIPAA compliance-ready solution?
- Are its data centers in compliance? Given the current cybersecurity threat landscape and increasingly strict compliance standards, it has become common for organizations of all sizes to require strict assurance of certifications when contracting with third-party professionals. Those without certification are at a disadvantage. Common compliance standards include, but are not limited to, SOC1/SOC2/SOC3/SSAE16.
- Does the provider offer multifactor authentication? If so, ensure universal implementation throughout your firm.
- Do the data centers leverage biometric authentication?
- Does the provider encrypt all data at the database level, both in transit and at rest?
Stop by the AbacusNext booth and bring your security questions.
Let’s meet at Accountex USA! Set up a meeting in advance
There’s so much to see and do at Accountex, it’s a good idea to structure your daily agenda. If there’s a particular day and time you’d like to meet with AbacusNext, contact us to arrange a meeting, or just stop by Booth #721. We’ll be sure the right expert is available to answer your questions and contribute to your planning for 2020.