In most cases during tax season, the majority of your time is likely spent either waiting for certain clients to provide their information or going through piles of paperwork that are provided at the last minute and need deciphering.
As technology continues to evolve, there are some resources that simplify the interaction with your clients, including the continued growth of SaaS (software as a service) alternatives. Traditionally with these options, an accountant or bookkeeper can access the client's data by logging into their financial file that is already running in the cloud. In most cases, this saves a great deal of time because the financial professional can access the client’s financial information when it is most appropriate to work on their returns.
Hosted options, where a desktop instance of a file is running in the cloud, also provide simplified access for accountants/bookkeepers as they can once again work on a client’s financials that are accessible via a traditional web browser.
So what happens if your client(s) prefer to continue using QuickBooks Desktop right in their own local environment? What if, for whatever reason, they are opposed to accessing their financials via a web browser and would prefer to work on a file running locally with their installed software? As a financial professional, this can of course create a great deal of additional work trying to support this type of client.
Ultimately, the financial file ends up being provided in the form of an Accountant’s Copy or possibly even a traditional backup or active file. The Accountant’s Copy can be problematic for a financial professional due to the limited functionalities that preclude doing any extensive form of year end updates.
Sending a backup or a live file require the client to stop working for that interval of time as to avoid creating “conflicting copies” that cannot ever be merged together. With either of these types of file sharing options, you also have to re-educate the client each year as to how to extract the file format you need and then reimport it into their active file.
Due to the challenge created by this type of file exchange, financial professionals have been experimenting with many different forms of file and even desktop sharing. Traditional file sharing options tend to have issues related to file corruption and possibly conflicted copies.
Desktop sharing can be problematic as you must coordinate times where your client can surrender their entire computer. There are other potential issues such as saving information locally on your computer and even printing locally.
If possible, it would be beneficial to have a resource that allows a financial professional to access their client’s QuickBooks Desktop file locally on their computer and have any changes automatically imported into their client’s copy on their system.
With this type of option, an accountant/bookkeeper during tax season would have the same, simplified ability to work in support of any Desktop clients as they do with any that have already evolved to Saas or Hosted solutions.
Seth David is the Chief Nerd and President of Nerd Enterprises Inc., a company that provides consulting and training services in accounting and software. Consulting services range from basic bookkeeping to CFO services such as financial modeling.