Today's Features

SURVEY: Practice Management by the Numbers

Data chartBONUS: 6 charts, including most and least effective ways to control costs.

Accounting Firm Operations and Technology Survey

Our survey respondents were asked practice management questions that explored how much time is spent working from remote locations, the top challenges of managing the firm, channels to bring the most new clients to the firm, time spent managing tasks, and methods for controlling costs.

They were also asked about initiatives that generate revenue, their biggest technology challenges, security in the cloud, communications with clients, mergers and acquisitions, wireless networking and plans for the firm’s website.
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Six New Rules for Smarter Tech Spending

Plus: Topline findings and recommendations for firms of every size from the new Accounting Firm Operations and Technology Survey.

By Brian Tankersley
Accounting Firm Operations and Technology Survey

Many practitioners think that CPA firm information technology is easy, and the really hard work is done with people who have large databases, etc. Nothing could be further from the truth, as it would be normal for a staff tax preparer to have as many as 12 applications open at once.

More from the AFOT Survey:  Top Video-Conferencing Tools: GoToMeeting, Skype |  3 Monitors the New Standard |  Ready for a New Laptop?Dell Gains on Laptop RivalsWhen to Replace Your Desktop PC?Accountants’ Favorite Desktop PCWho’s Still Using Windows 7?Cisco, SonicWall Top Firewall ChoicesHow Firms Manage Mobile Devices

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Very few things are as important to your firm’s effectiveness and efficiency than the reliability and effectiveness of your technology.

Some general guidance on how to approach IT in your firm includes the following. READ MORE →

Hiring Trends Flash Warning Signs of Slowdown in Tax & Accounting

CPA firm staffing and wage growth signal weakness.

By Beth Bellor

Not only are several sectors in the tax and accounting industry charting new records in employee numbers, but wages often are up as well, according to new CPA Trendlines research.

MORE ON JOBS: CHARTS: Tax & Accounting Among Biggest Jobs Creators in U.S.
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But key indexes are flashing signs of a decelerating expansion, possibly augering a slowdown, or even cutbacks, in the months to come.

In this report, CPA Trendlines highlights:

  • Current hiring trends in each of the bookkeeping, payroll, tax and CPA segments of the industry (all data seasonally adjusted)
  • Average hourly wages for key segments
  • Typical hours worked per week
  • Trends concerning women in the accounting workforce

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The Job Interview: A Make or Break Proposition

Two businesswomen sitting at table and talking in office courtyard5 criteria to meet when hiring.

By Steven E. Sacks

Over the past several years, there has been significant job growth and a large part has been attributed to the private sector, which includes professional services firms, businesses, hospitality, education, and health.

Despite what appears to be robust employment with new opportunities across a broad swath, companies on the hunt for talent are still facing the challenge of finding the perfect candidate.

MORE: The Power of ‘Real Influence’ | Smart Trust in the Workplace | What Aspiring Accountants Need to Know | Improve Job Satisfaction or It’ll Cost Your Firm | We Hear But Do We REALLY Listen?
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Companies are using third parties to assist them in their quest to get the “right fit” because their goal is to build solid teams. The team approach ensures that there is consistency in attitude and performance within and between departments. This is not to suggest the goal of creating automatons or cultivating groupthink.

However, a recruiter considers not only whether the individual is competent but also if he or she will be compatible with the other players.
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Give Your People the Resources They Need

Woman scanning a documentSeriously consider your rate of return.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

We have talked about putting the right people in the right places. Let’s discuss giving them the right resources.

MORE: 4 Steps to Take Before Next Tax Season | How to Create Good Managers | How to Hire and Manage Great Admin Staff | Managing People: The Heart of Effective Project Management
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Little angers me as much as getting cheap when it comes to giving staff what they need. Here’s an example from my wife’s career as a federal government contractor.
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Using Databases for Document Management

Businessman touching virtual buttons in server roomMany have integrated portals for transferring files to clients.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

The network drive in most firms is not very well organized and requires the most cleanup. This happens because it is usually managed with Microsoft Windows Explorer, which allows almost anyone to create or access a file anywhere on the drive.

MORE: SURVEY: 60% of Firms Employ Remote Access Tools | Capture Firm Knowledge on an Intranet | SURVEY: How Many Firms Back Up Data to the Internet? | The New Risks in Cloud Efficiencies | SURVEY: How Many Firms Use Unified Messaging? | Be Careful with Microsoft Office Upgrades | SURVEY: Have You Dumped Manual Invoices Yet?
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Unfortunately, there is seldom a firm standard that is adhered to, allowing users to create files with any naming convention they want and store it anywhere they choose. The result can be files that are hard to find and slow to search across the network.
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Microsoft Issues Warning to 800 Million Windows 10 Users

System restore warningYour “backup” might not exist.

By Rick Richardson

Microsoft’s Windows 10 OS has been facing multiple problems in recent months. In the latest development, Microsoft has now released an important new Windows 10 warning to 800 million users.

MORE TECH THIS WEEK: Microsoft and Oracle Join Cloud Forces to Take on Amazon | Front-Facing Display Puts DJI Osmo Action Ahead of GoPro | What Your Car Will Know About You | How to Beat the Online Sales Tax | Amazon Takes More Control Over Smart Home Technology
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The company has identified a serious and long-running bug on its OS platform.
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What Lee Iacocca’s Life Teaches Accountants

Woman on city train using tabletSUMMER READING: 14 proven leaders can teach us a lot.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

Lee Iacocca passed away July 2 at age 94. He was a brilliant business and civic leader and a cultural icon who was even considered for president.

MORE: Growing with a Client | My First Thought Is to Never Turn Down Business | Secret Success Formula: E=fs4Uh | High CPA Fees Should Be a Client’s Goal | How Hidden Bias Taints Results | When to Keep Some Plans to Yourself | When Writeups Went Extinct | Kennedy’s Acceptance Speech
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I never met him but read his autobiography and besides enjoying it I took away a management technique I am sharing with you here.
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Building Competency on Every Level

diagram
Work is passed down to the next level once the saturation point has been reached.

Including 3 key initiatives in most strategic plans.

By Bill Reeb

Let's discuss how firms need to alter their thinking as to what best practices might look like near term to better position themselves for the future that is almost here NOW.

MORE: Change Happens: How to Master It.
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First of all, which I have covered numerous times before, we have to truly address from a workload perspective the prevalence of the Upside-Down Pyramid™ in firms.
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4 Ways to Fix IRS Collections

Home foreclosure? Put on the brakes.

By CPA Trendlines Research

Tax assessment and collection – this is the juncture where taxpayers really get to know their favorite federal agency ... or, if not favorite, the only one that touches virtually every working American.

MORE: 3 Ways to Improve IRS Levies | How the IRS Abuses ‘Math Errors’
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It can be a heavy touch to a tender area, the one in the vicinity of the wallet. So it’s a touch that can always use improvement.

Fortunately for taxpayers, the Tax Advocacy Service  suggests 16 ways Congress could make the assessment and collection touch a touch softer.
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Smart Tech Tips from Top CPA Firms

Laughing businesswoman talking on the phone in office in front of four monitors5 key questions, including what to tell recruits.

By Marc Rosenberg
The Rosenberg Practice Management Library

I have a keen interest and understanding of how managing partners perform their jobs. Their duties encompass a long list of critically important management functions. Certainly, one of these is to ensure that technology has an optimal impact on the firm’s success, profitability and efficiency.

MORE: 15 Amazing Organizational Tactics to Manage a CPA Firm | Why Governing by Partner Ownership Is Bound to Fail | 6 Ways to Retain NextGen Staff | How to Develop a Truly Progressive NextGen Culture | The Top 5 Concerns of Great Managing Partners | Partners: When To Speak Up and When To Shut Up
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This can be quite challenging because, unlike most MP duties, managing the technology function is a highly technical skill that most MPs don’t have.
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Reframe Sales as Communicating Value

Two people working side by side on laptopsCreate a conversation where the client can experience what it would be like to work with you.

By

I've talked about how the accounting industry has been disrupted. High-volume, low-profit services such as tax returns are being pushed out by large commercial organizations, leaving small and medium-size accounting firm owners to work increasingly harder for decreasing profits.

MORE: 3 Keys to Evolving Your Accounting Practice
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The solution is to allow your business model to adapt by following these three core principles:

  1. Transform from accountant to advisor. (Read 3 Keys to Evolving Your Accounting Practice if you haven’t yet!)
  2. Learn to price/sell/deliver.
  3. Confront and conquer fear.

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