No Rest for IT in CPA Firms

Busy season now begins for IT departments at CPA firms across the country. All those non-critical updates that have been sitting on the shelf or waiting for download are now screaming for attention. The hard and fast rule of “status quo” in tax season regarding network changes still persists, but is diminishing in impact due to hosted type environments.

Tax season is our time in IT to prepare for the season of upgrades: hardware, software and all things related. Here are some items that should be on your radar, if not already on your to do list:

1) Is Windows XP still hanging around? Windows 7 is a proven platform in our industry
2) Have you looked at 64 bit Windows? The additional memory it can handle makes a difference.
3) Are you going to replace computers in bulk or wait until they break?  Look at solid state drives for less moving parts and increased speed?
4) When computers break, can you give users a temporary machine that connects to a virtual desktop? If you have not already, find out what your peers are doing with virtual desktops.
5) Are you protecting your network with web content filtering? Are computers protected when off your LAN or WAN?
6) Do you have enterprise licensing with Microsoft to control versions and costs with ease? (Note: You do need to have a degree in rocket science or similar to understand Microsoft licensing.)
7) Internal auditing – make sure you use what you have and cancel what you don’t use.
8) Play in the sandbox – This is what you should have been doing in tax season when all the users did not call you (even though they saved up all their issues on a Post-It note waiting for this week to dump on the help desk). If you don’t have a test environment, get one.
9) Clean those hard drives – Even though space is dirt cheap, keep those hard drives clean. End user intervention is often involved so encourage them to clean out their file shares. Make sure you give adequate warning before you take matters into IT hands and delete old data.
10) Are you taking time to train your users? Taking time to train yourself? Get to meet some of your peers and talk shop at the AAA CPA Firm Technology Fly-In next month.

This list can go on and on, I’ve only touched the surface. It is much the same around this time every year. While there are great and wonderful new things in IT, make the fundamentals a priority – a stable network for end user productivity. 

Make sure you get your rest though, a good eight hours a night - once the software updates are done after hours of course.

This blog

Jim Fahey is COO of Apple Growth Partners, a regional CPA firm in Ohio. His focus is on the effective and efficient use of technology within the firm by all team members.  He is also in charge of talent management and retention at his firm.  A background of IT and Human Resources helps Jim bridge the gap of technology complexities with end users who just want their computer to work so they can be chargeable.  Being a very cheap (frugal sounds better) person himself, he is always looking for ways to save dollars at his firm.  He is Director of Education for the Association for Accounting Administration and past Technology Committee member of the Ohio Society of CPA's.  He often leads industry CPE events on the topics of Information Technology, CPA firm practice management and human resources/recruiting. Find out more about Jim on LinkedIn.

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