A recent webinar provides accountants with current consulting recommendations on choosing technologies like workstations, office equipment, mobile tools and more. All are part of today’s accounting firm tech stack. This post offers a summary of professional trends along with some specific recommendations.
We began the webinar with a discussion on the key trends around the accounting firm tech stack today. Our first set of topics included digital transformation and cloud migration. We also discussed the evolution and impact of client accounting and advisory services (CAAS) and the prioritization of security.
COVID prompted firms to evolve rapidly to a remote work environment. Some firms did it better than others. Those that succeeded were able to go beyond just creating digital versions of their old processes. Instead, they took a holistic approach and evaluated products that completely changed how they worked with clients.
Firms that adopted modern portals and secure email solutions were able to transition their clients to a digital format and collaborate with them more effectively electronically. We discussed the importance of Zoom and Teams and why we feel Teams will be the long-term winner for the accounting profession.
Digital collaboration is also another critical skill that’s required today. Having equipment like the Logitech C920 video camera and a Blue Yeti microphone, plus a proper light kit, will make a great first impression. We also laid the groundwork for firms adopting collaboration equipment. That equipment could include the Meeting Owl or Samsung Flip 2 and maybe even an OhmniLabs telepresence robot.
We discussed two of the key drivers toward the cloud. One was the difficulty (and risk) that firms are experiencing when they manage their own network internally. The other was the reasoning behind accounting vendors’ transition to cloud development.
Technology is evolving at an ever-increasing pace. It is becoming harder for firms to optimally design, build and support internal networks. That’s especially true as more applications are only being developed/updated in the cloud (and not on-premises). We also discussed how the future of advisory technology is all being built in the cloud where the firm can interact with clients.
CAAS is finally coming to fruition. Business information technology stacks are now capable of supporting the accounting efforts to develop advisory services. Firms can integrate multiple applications and information resources into accounting applications. They can then deliver near real-time information reporting and dashboards. To be effective, these resources have to be available at all times and have an “enterprise– class” secure infrastructure. By default, that infrastructure needs to run in the cloud!
Cyberattackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and targeting any weakness in a firm’s infrastructure. Few firms have the optimal combination of security resources internally to protect the firm. Still, just over 36% of recently surveyed businesses are trying to do so. We recommend moving everything to an enterprise-class cloud provider or utilizing a managed security provider to monitor and protect the firm.
We next discussed specific recommendations for office and remote technology. Many firms are still buying desktop computers. However, we suggest firms go to laptops for anyone who works out of the office one day per week or more. This allows for more efficient use since the computer is always with you. Plus, you can also configure laptops to be more secure and to keep people working if there is an office disaster.
We discussed firms sticking to the “business class” laptop models. According to the most recent CPAFMA survey, Dell, HP and Lenovo are the most popular brands. For minimum specifications, we are recommending firms stick with i7 Intel processors, at least 16GB of RAM and a minimum of 256GB of solid-state storage. We also recommend that any device has a full keyboard (with number pad).
We explained why Windows 11 is the operating system of choice and why everyone should be on Office 365. For monitors, the most common configuration we see is triple monitors. However, the number of users with dual oversize monitors is rapidly catching up. Two displays of 30 inches or more seems to be the sweet spot.
For printing and scanning, we recommend firms monitor how much they are currently doing. Then, they can project out whether their volume will increase or decrease. Thanks to digital portals and secure email solutions, we see the physical need to scan or print diminishing significantly over the next few years. We suggest firms plan accordingly. They should use dedicated “centralized” scanning stations and phase out other devices. This goes for remote users as well, who traditionally carried printers and scanners in the field. Firms are phasing out that practice.
However, we do see remote users needing mobile monitors to expand their screen real estate. We explained why we recommend ASUS over other brands, such as ViewSonic and AOC. We closed the webinar with recommendations on additional battery chargers, surge bars and office outlets. You’ll have to watch the webinar to get those tips, along with other gift-giving ideas!
The webinar is available on demand, so you can get the actual recommendations here. Coming out of busy season is when many firms have time to update their accounting firm tech stack and explore new opportunities. Hopefully, this blog and webinar will help you stay up to date!
Your accounting tech stack works better in the cloud. Get into the cloud today.
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