Top five reasons why it’s time to reevaluate your accounting software
With the 2022 tax season almost over, it’s time to start reevaluating your firm’s software. What worked this tax season? What didn’t? In 2021, 21% of firms cited keeping up with technology as a significant issue they were facing. As CPAs strive to manage the shift to remote working environments and adapt to new challenges, they are increasingly adopting software solutions to help them stay ahead of the game and ensure they deliver on their core responsibility – to provide exceptional business advice to their clients.
If appropriately utilized and implemented, software can increase efficiency, client retention, and firm growth. Yet despite the benefits on offer, mindlessly throwing software solutions at every issue you face is not the answer. Be sure to assess your situation, vet vendors, and focus on integration and usability.
Five reasons to reevaluate your accounting software:
- Complaints from employees – Do not assume chronically missed deadlines are due to employees’ poor time management. Inefficiencies with current software may be the root cause. Listen to employees if they claim software is time-consuming or hard to use. Throughout tax season, your employees will be interacting with software for countless hours. Your employees are the experts on the needs of your firm and whether the software solutions you currently have meet those needs. Busy season is stressful enough for CPAs; there is no need to add the stressor of hard-to-use or inefficient software.
- Lack of efficiency – If appropriately implemented, software solutions should increase efficiency by reducing time spent on mundane tasks. Digitization allows CPAs to minimize incomplete records and lost receipts as records are kept as they arise, allowing for high standards to be upheld. Plus, software solutions can change and enhance the client relationship because files can easily be shared with clients. When CPAs can spend less time occupied by low-value actions such as manual processes, they can focus on delivering value-added advisory services.
- Heavy reliance on spreadsheets – Human error to some degree is inevitable, but over-reliance on spreadsheets increases its probability. High volume spreadsheet use is a sign that your software is not adequately meeting the needs of CPAs. Today’s software can significantly minimize the amount of manual spreadsheet work. Unlike spreadsheets, specialist software can quickly spot potential data entry errors by surfacing anomalies in the tax calculation early in the process, ensuring more successful tax submissions and reducing the potential for miscalculations.
- Outdated systems – Many problems may arise from old software, including poor customer support, integration issues with new apps, and a lack of essential security updates. Particularly during these times of heightened cybersecurity attacks, CPA firms need systems in place to ensure compliance and protection. Cybersecurity is just one concern with outdated systems. A lack of customer support can leave you in the dark should a detrimental issue arise, and older systems often cannot seamlessly integrate with newer applications your firm may use.
- Lack of mobility – In today's hybrid working environment, CPAs require access to digital files from any location, whenever they need it and, on any device. Cloud integration enables mobility all without the need for significant infrastructure investment. CPA firms can also harness cloud to foster a more inclusive working environment. The flexibility possible with cloud software allows CPAs to do their job at convenient hours to their lifestyle, promoting a healthy culture with work-life balance.
How to choose what's best for your firm
If any of the above resonates with you, the next step is choosing a service provider that will easily integrate with your current systems. When selecting a provider, there are some key aspects to consider:
- User-friendliness – Understand the average technical ability of CPAs at your firm, then choose a solution that requires technical knowledge comparable to your firm's ability without compromising features and functionalities. This is essential to prevent long periods spent understanding how to use basic functions of the software, complicating the integration process.
- Easy integration – As the use of third-party applications increases, it is critical to choose a solutions provider that will seamlessly integrate with third-party systems already in use. Some service providers offer a wide range of third-party application integration, while others offer just a few. To prevent an entire overhaul on all systems, ensuring third-party integration is vital.
- Scalability – Although solution providers may meet the current business needs of your firm, ensure that the solution can grow as your business grows. Technology integration can be an excellent tool for business growth, but as you grow, it can be very costly having to constantly switch providers because they can no longer support the size of your firm.
- Security – Software has come a long way in terms of security, but ransomware attacks and hackers are a threat to cloud technology. To retain client trust, it is essential to ensure the integrity of client data. Vet potential service providers by asking questions about their cybersecurity, and ensure they are a trusted and reputable provider.
Every accounting firm has different needs, and there is no one size fits all solution. Analyze the needs of your firm and carefully compare providers to ensure your firm can best utilize the benefits cloud technology has to offer.
Drive value from new software
The software your firm uses should empower and inspire accountants to work smarter – not harder. CPAs must continuously evaluate their accounting software with a clear direction and purpose and prioritize finding a solution that seamlessly adapts as client needs evolve to achieve maximum benefits. Ensure your firm regularly assesses employee feedback and replaces outdated systems with software that improves efficiency, reduces reliance on spreadsheets and can be used in mobile environments.
Embracing new, highly agile, secure, and mobile systems can bring a plethora of benefits to your firm. As software reduces time spent on mundane tasks, CPAs can shift their focus to value-adding client services such as advisory. Choosing a new provider can strengthen operations and give clients heightened transparency and confidence. Ultimately generating greater value for firms’ clients and their businesses.