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How to Streamline Your Practice in the Digital Age

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May 10th 2016
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Like it or not the digital age is here, so where does your firm stand? Are you using the cloud or does your staff still deal with tons of paperwork?

Moving to the Cloud

Each year, the Texas Society of CPAs and the AICPA Private Companies Practice session conducts a comprehensive survey of accounting practices. It's called the Management of an Accounting Practice (MAP) and it measures the software solutions modern accounting firms leverage to improve their operations.

The results of the MAP survey illuminate the struggles of accounting firms to move to fully-digital operations, especially using cloud software. According to the survey, 90% of respondents agreed that the ability to deliver business processes digitally will be a key differentiator for firms in the coming years. However, just 8% believed that the industry is future-ready right now.

Why is there such a big discrepancy? And how can your firm streamline your digital operations today?

Roadblocks Along the Way

Cloud computing presents multiple challenges to accounting firms. And that makes embracing the technology difficult for management. Here are a few of these roadblocks:

1. Security Issues

Because sensitive financial information is at stake, some CPAs avoid sharing over a network. Yet, cloud services can be more secure than installed solutions. Why? Because software is continually patched and monitored by the company.

Remember when Microsoft Office asked you to update software, and you just closed the window? Well, security patches in the cloud are installed on a rolling basis. Cloud providers understand that the success of their business relies on data security.

2. Poor Network Quality

In spite of advances in delivering seamless Internet services, connectivity issues can still occur. Be upfront with your firm's staff about potential bumps. Your team may experience subpar connections, while working from home or a hotel.

Be prepared to involve your network specialists in the migration process to prevent ongoing concerns.

3. Migration Woes

Making the transition to cloud computing is bound to have its ups and downs. Your staff will need time to adjust to the new systems. Before committing across your entire firm, try moving operations to the cloud for just one client as a test run.

As you transition, keep communication open between your employees, management, and clients. That way, your team can address any problems in the process early.

Also, consider making the transition during a slow season. You want the move to be seamless and stress-free for your team.

There are Rewards at the End

Transitioning your firm to the cloud helps differentiate your firm. You can offer your clients more convenience and transparency. Moreover, it helps streamline your internal business operations and improve your profitability. Here’s why:

1. Eliminate Technology Snafus

Traditionally, software used on the premises can involve different models, including licensing requirements and ever-changing versions. This makes it difficult for CPA firms to manage.

The ability to formulate a cohesive solution is often beyond the scope of the typical on-site IT personnel. When utilizing cloud solutions, both you and your client are using the same up-to-date platform without the licensing and version issues.

2. Organize Data Easier

When your firm has to pull client data from spreadsheets and files sent over via email or through file-sharing services, organization becomes a nightmare. Using cloud software helps the entire firm work more efficiently. Documents are accessible by anyone who needs them, and multiple people can work on the same file.

Cloud accounting software pulls client data directly into a dashboard, instead of relying on you or your client to import it. This saves time importing, and it also ensures that you always have the most recent client data.

3. Boost Your Profits

Diversifying beyond accounting services can increase your profits and client base. Utilizing cloud-based software makes leveraging higher profit margin services possible.

For example, by using real-time financial information, savvy CPAs can provide advisory and consultation services. You can help clients build better financial strategies and design solutions based on their current needs.

4. Streamline Your Practice

It can feel overwhelming to migrate your business to the cloud. However, the improvement of your business operations and client satisfaction is worth the short-term frustration.

So, is your firm ready to take the next step or have you arlready begun? Share your experiences so far.

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