Accounting firms have been busy in recent years expanding their service offerings far beyond tax preparation, and understandably so—any firm that wants to position itself for the future has to develop new service practices. Fortunately, firms aren’t alone in the race to develop client accounting and advisory services (CAAS). And technology can help. A wide range of technologies can enable firms to streamline and automate processes on the way to CAAS.
What can the right technology do for a firm? The effects can be surprisingly wide-ranging. This post looks at three ways firms can use technology to not only move more rapidly and effectively toward CAAS, but also to change their cultures for the better.
The more you can automate your firm’s most fundamental functions, the more time and resources you’ll have to devote to CAAS. For instance, running QuickBooks® Desktop (QBD) in the cloud gives your employees all the capabilities of QBD anywhere and at any time. There’s no need to be in an office to use QBD, and there’s no longer a reason to share files via email or other risky methods. Instead of working around QBD, you’ll be able to work in QBD whenever you need it.
With QBD, you can also run apps in the cloud that automate other key functions. For instance, accounts payable is often one of the least automated processes found within a firm. Tools such as Bill.com, Tipalti and Stampli offer automated approval, payment, reminders and integration of AP information into QBD, so you don’t have to re-key data. You save time and reduce errors.
The same goes for accounts receivable. Your firm can run payment applications used by the CAAS team, such as Stripe, Square or PayPal, in the cloud. Or you can integrate specific accounting products into the firm’s practice management application, including Affinipay, CPACharge, QuickFee and Kotopay, which can all be linked within the firm’s digital invoices or website.
The same idea works for many other functions as well, including managing human resources and tracking internal firm performance. When you spend less time manually completing common processes, you have more time and can devote more resources to developing CAAS capabilities. You essentially unleash your own and your employees’ talents toward creating new revenue-producing services.
Perhaps the most essential reason to put the cloud at the center of your tech stack is that someone else can take care of so many routine tasks for you. Another compelling reason? When you run applications in the cloud, your cloud provider keeps them updated so you don’t have to. That’s critical because some apps won’t run properly or securely without frequent updates.
More importantly, you have a partner in security that keeps your data safe. It’s almost impossible for a small or even mid-size firm to choose, implement and update a cybersecurity package capable of both warding off attacks and mitigating the damage when they happen—and they will happen. Your firm needs a cloud provider that will take care of security for you, searching in the background for threats and eliminating them before you even realize they exist.
Plus, when you have a partner who takes care of updates and security for you, that’s another task you don’t have to take on yourself. Again, when you run it in the cloud, your tech stack enables you to focus on developing new services for clients.
Staffing and retaining employees are major challenges for accounting firms. The right tech stack can help on both fronts. When you automate HR and other employee-facing functions, you put yourself in a position to track employee progress and reward your best performers. Plus, when you take monotonous chores away from employees, you enable them to better serve clients—an important step in getting to CAAS.
When you open your job applications up to employees from any geographical location, you don’t have to limit yourself to a particular area—you can recruit the best talent from anywhere. And employees at firms are notably happier when they’re able to do their jobs by working a reasonable number of hours. Automation via the tech stack can help employees get more done in less time, keeping them more interested in their jobs and enabling them to achieve work-life balance.
The cloud opens your firm to dedicating the time and resources you need to develop your CAAS practice. Choosing the right applications is critical, but the tech stack works best when it begins and runs in the cloud. The extent to which you want to operate in the cloud is up to you—your firm can run apps there, use cloud-based security services or even turn your whole IT operation over to a cloud provider.
Ready to get your CAAS practice moving faster? Contact Right Networks today.
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