Rosenberg IT Roundtables Meet to Discuss Top Techs and Trends
The 13th Annual Rosenberg IT Roundtables, which focuses on today’s digital trends and technologies transforming accounting firms, recently concluded its hybrid on-premises and virtual event.
I (Roman Kepczyk, Director of Firm Technology Strategy) led the sessions; keep reading for my key takeaways.
Tax Season 2022: Hope For the Best; Plan For the Worst
The expectation of when we will be “Post-COVID” varied significantly depending on what part of the country participants lived in and the local views on mandates during the pandemic. While more personnel are getting vaccinated, variants and the winter season could be significant wild cards.
- Plan for your upcoming busy season to be as impacted as significantly by COVID as the last busy season
- Start introducing or transitioning clients to adopting digital solutions for collaboration and file transfer now
- Shore-up your remote access technologies
Prioritize Security For the Health of Your Firm (and Because It’s an IRS Requirement)
Accounting firms aren’t prioritizing security … until there is a breach that hits home. Ransomware continues to be a lucrative criminal business with a low risk of being caught which is driving growth in ransomware attacks. Hacker groups are increasingly becoming specialized and targeting victims not only for ransom but for the client data that can be monetized whether or not the ransom is paid.
- Invest in professionally managed security services through qualified IT companies and cloud vendors with enterprise-class tools and security resources
- Be sure to meet IRS requirements for security and phishing training and have a written information security plan (WISP)
Client Accounting Advisory Services Are More Popular Than Ever
Firm growth is being driven by Client Accounting and Advisory Services (CAAS). COVID opened the door to providing advisory services via PPP and the CAREs Act. Firms should take this opportunity to formalize their advisory services with focused training and educate both clients and internal firm personnel on their ability to do so.
- Evaluate your current niches where you have the opportunity to expand advisory services
- Proactively build out a CAAS technology stack of applications to create an integrated business information system to help clients manage their businesses more effectively
Tap into All Tax, Practice and Workflow Applications Features
Applications for tax and assurance automation allow firms to capture client data digitally throughout today’s practice. There have been significant advances in the modernization of portal, workflow and eSignature tools, including integration with existing applications.
- Question any “supporting spreadsheet” or re-keying of data to see if your existing tax, practice, or workflow application has already added enhancements to capture and report on that data
- If your existing application does not have those integrations or automation tools built in, evaluate replacement products before the upcoming busy season
Remote Work Is the New Norm; Make the Most of It
Adopting remote work and collaboration will be one of COVID’s legacy impacts on the modern business environment. Personnel from both firms and clients have seen the benefits, and the technology is finally robust enough to encompass the vast majority of personnel. Firms should standardize remote work equipment as well as provide ongoing training on the use of these tools.
- Identify what work is optimally produced remotely or can be collaborated upon virtually and what work is produced more effective when physically together
- Build your personnel’s schedules and project collaboration around those remote and in-person tasks to make the most of everyone’s time
Accounting Technology and IT Support Staff
The cloud, digital transformation, remote work, and security have a significant impact on the information technology that firms are adopting. Next year, we expect accounting firms to standardize on Windows 10 PCs, equip employees with firm-managed and secured devices, and prioritize employees’ remote setups. Even before COVID, the transition of applications to the cloud had a measurable impact on reducing internal IT staffing requirements.
- Prioritize workstation standardization and security between the office and remote site (think monitors, docking stations, VPNs, collaboration technology, etc.)
- Re-evaluate the current IT staffing mix; expand training and security where needed
Accounting Trends to Focus On Now vs. Later
Blockchain and artificial intelligence will be future disrupters once their capabilities have been harnessed seamlessly within applications that firms can realistically utilize, which is still a few years away.
- Firms should focus on completing the digital transformation of client data and the utilization of today’s consumer-grade application program interfaces (APIs), machine learning, robotic process automation (RPA) and data visualization tools.