You can transform your accounting firm with the right technology. Smart investments can enable you to secure your clients’ data, work more efficiently and even drive revenues. One of those smart investments should involve working with a managed IT partner.
Many firm leaders understand the power of technology to improve their operations. In a recent survey, 82% of accountants said technology is helping them improve relationships with clients, and 65% said technology has helped them better meet client needs over the last two years.
What type of technology are firm leaders adopting? One major center of investment is managed IT. By embracing a partner to run their IT operations, firms are following a larger business trend. The market for IT services is booming, with one projection showing that it will be worth more than a trillion dollars in 2025, up from $715 billion in 2020.
Firm owners that have invested in services from a managed IT partner can attest to the return they’ve enjoyed on their investments. Firms outsource their IT operations to a partner, enabling experts to handle laborious but critical tasks such as securing data, updating applications and maintaining servers—while freeing up time for their employees to focus on client service.
Some of the primary motivating factors behind the move to managed IT, according to Rightworks OneSpace Firm Premier customers, include:
Changing the role of IT staff while a managed IT partner handles security
Security used to keep Mike Gillis awake at night. Gillis, managing partner at DMJ, a 100-person firm based in Greensboro, North Carolina, knew his firm’s in-house servers weren’t going to be able to keep pace with cybersecurity threats. Rather than spend upwards of $250,000 to upgrade internal servers, Gillis and DMJ turned to OneSpace Firm Premier as a managed IT partner.
With experts at Rightworks protecting DMJ’s data in the cloud, Gillis sleeps at night now. “I just feel much more secure with OneSpace Firm Premier and much more secure with the functionality,” he says. “Security always scared me.”
DMJ found a better way to spend the money it would otherwise have budgeted for server upgrades. The firm installed a brand new, top-of-the-line videoconferencing system in its office. What’s more, outsourcing IT, including security management, to OneSpace Firm Premier experts enabled Gillis and DMJ to transform how the firm does business.
The firm kept its IT staff after moving to OneSpace Firm Premier but changed IT employees’ responsibilities. Gillis says the firm now plans to have IT employees do billable work for clients, something that wasn’t possible prior to the adoption of OneSpace Firm Premier. The switch means more revenue coming into the firm. IT became a revenue driver rather than a cost center.
“We’re going to get them consulting with our clients and turn them into a revenue source,” he says. Plus, his worries about security are over.
Working with a managed IT partner to normalize the remote firm for clients
Remote and hybrid work have become common for many accounting firms post-pandemic, but some clients have proven more willing to accept new models of working than others. Jeanie Price, partner and director of administration at DeLeon and Stang, a firm with offices in Maryland and Virginia, found that a managed IT partner enabled her to win over even clients that were skeptical of virtual meetings.
Moving employees to a remote work model in 2020 wasn’t difficult given that the firm has been a OneSpace Firm Premier customer since 2011. DeLeon and Stang quickly moved about 35 of its 43 employees to remote work without any major issues.
“Transitioning was quite simple for us,” Price says. “Because we’d been in the cloud, we knew everything would work well. We knew we could work through concerns, but we really didn’t have any. From [the employee] perspective, nothing changed. Everything worked. We have a good rapport with the team.”
Some clients were less willing to move to a virtual setup. But the firm had no choice in 2020, just as most businesses didn’t. Price found that with a little help, clients began to embrace connecting securely and virtually in the cloud. As a result, the firm has gained efficiency by eliminating some cumbersome in-person meetings without sacrificing client service.
“Clients had to make some adjustments, but we communicated with them the whole way,” Price says. “They had to adapt to a digital method of sending us tax records, but we were able to handle that with portals and secure email exchange. A lot of them were pleasantly surprised at how easy some of those processes were. We also have a significant number of older clients who struggle with interacting remotely, but we were able to walk everybody through it. We’ve gotten a lot of kudos for how easy it was.”
Support from a managed IT partner that understands accounting firms
Many providers of managed IT services are generalists, serving a wide variety of businesses. OneSpace Firm Premier from Rightworks is not. OneSpace Firm Premier is a managed IT partner completely dedicated to the business needs of accounting firms. For DeNet Kenefick & Associates (DKA), a 15-person firm based near Minneapolis, that specialization was important.
In December 2019, DKA was looking to replace an in-house server. Steven G. Wormley, CPA with DKA, says the firm had to decide whether to purchase another server or turn to managed IT services. The firm had a long-term relationship with its IT consultant, but Wormley says the support relationship was sometimes strained.
“We had experienced a fair amount of finger-pointing when things went wrong between the internet provider, the IT consultant and each of the individual software application vendors,” he says.
DKA ultimately decided to outsource IT to OneSpace Firm Premier. In large part because Rightworks had strong relationships with makers of accounting and business software.
“We were intrigued with the idea that Rightworks would support us in dealing with the major application software companies,” Wormley says. “We are a small player, but Rightworks would have much more clout in getting to real answers when things go wrong. When other support organizations are finger-pointing, Rightworks can get answers faster than we can.”
The results have been positive. Wormley says Rightworks OneSpace Firm Premier has delivered the consistent, reliable support DKA sought when it abandoned its internal server and previous IT support system.
“Ultimately, we chose Rightworks OneSpace Firm Premier because of your focus on and experience with CPA firms,” he says. “Our experience so far has met the promises made to us during our decision-making process.”
Improved network performance and faster applications with a managed IT partner
Friedman Kannenberg & Company, P.C. (FKCo), is a 10-person accounting firm based in Farmington, Connecticut. Most of their clients are involved with the music industry, whether as producers, venue operators or musicians. So, FKCo’s business, in a sense, is all about performance. But performance was an issue for the firm.
FKCo was using a thin-client computing model, which required employees to use stripped-down, specialized devices connected to a central in-office server. The thin-client model posed a few problems, but one of them was especially aggravating: it was slow, particularly with video calls. FKCo serves many of its clients virtually, so connectivity is important.
In September 2022, FKCo moved to OneSpace Firm Premier. The power of connecting through a secure data center managed by experts immediately became clear. “We have been seeing better mobility now that we don’t have thin clients on our desks,” says Evan Kalish, accountant and administrator at FKCo. “Thin clients have terrifying internal graphics, and they’re very choppy for remote calls.”
With OneSpace Firm Premier, Kalish says the firm has seen a 10-15% increase in performance speed since switching. That’s a big deal for a firm where employees often meet virtually with clients who love to be seen and heard.
A managed IT partner frees firms to do what they do best
Ultimately, managed IT lets you run your accounting firm while someone else takes care of technology. Just as your clients outsource accounting to you, your firm can benefit by outsourcing IT to a team of experts.
A managed IT partner gives you peace of mind, locked-down security, superior support and better performance. It can even help you improve your relationships with clients. And once you find the right partner, you can enjoy those benefits without doing much at all.
Get started with OneSpace Firm Premier and managed IT. Contact us today.