Is Your IT Status Quo in Tax Season?

The long held truth of not making changes to your IT environment during tax season is regularly being challenged. Whether or not you believe it, this unwritten rule has its place. The nature of technology these days does not allow IT to be disconnected from the world January 15th to April 15th for fear that some update will render tax accountants non-chargeable.

I remember “back in the day” carrying around a 3.5” floppy with the Norton anti-virus update of the week. Something as simple as that update had caused grief to many workstations. Albeit the means of distribution has changed, the necessity has not. AV updates happen by the minute if not faster. Windows updates are happening to desktops sometimes without you knowing! Who knows when one of these updates might turn a PC into an oversized paperweight. If you are not using Windows SUS (Software Update Service) and testing updates before Patch Tuesday and rolling out en masse, take the time to investigate. It’s free! Whether it is Windows updates or any other non-tax application update, plan for damage control if it all goes south. Unlike my favorite button in Microsoft Word, the undo feature of reversing a bad update is not as simple.

Most of the software updates we have cannot wait until after April 15th. Changes to the network must happen and IT has to do its best with correcting the issue should updates cause grief on individual PC’s or the network. While IT can put off as many updates as possible, by no means have they run out of work and have free time to stuff tax returns.  If you do have free time, congratulations, but busy season is the ideal time to be proactive and plan for summer projects. Whether you are rolling out new hardware or software, utilize the time while accountants are busy to play in the sandbox. CPA firm IT departments can never do enough testing. 

Keeping change to a minimum during the busiest time of year at your firm is a priority. Having the least amount of intrusion into the number crunchers day to day activities is appreciated.    Tax law change though  – that’s one thing we can’t help with – everything else that plugs in to the wall just call us or email helpdesk. We’re working late too…

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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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