Why You Need an Independent Security Review

Illustration of computer security threatsThen follow up every few years.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

Going “paperless” means that all firm files and client data will be digitally stored on the firm’s network, which is almost always accessible to firm personnel via internal workstations and remotely via the internet. The firm has a fiduciary responsibility to protect this data from anyone not specifically authorized to view it.

MORE: ‘Learning Culture’ Requires Standardized Processes | Centralize Contact Administration | How Digital A/P Processing Boosts Productivity | How an ‘Owner’s Drawer’ Boosts Security | The Top Portable Monitors for Auditors | Why Scanning Procedures Matter
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Proper security is VERY difficult for any internal network administrator to guarantee as few have the experience and have participated in ongoing training to implement security settings optimally the first time. Therefore, all “one-shot” implementations of firewalls, wireless routers, virtual private networks and other security settings should be outsourced to an organization that has experienced personnel dedicated to security.
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2020 Outlook: Data Import on the Rise

Microsoft Power BI likely to become the visualization standard.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

Security continues to be a significant and increasing threat, but many firm owners continue to assume it is being managed by their IT team. We find traditional firm IT does a good job on the internal components they control, but there are consistent shortfalls in the use of multifactor authentication, intrusion detection/prevention and staff training.

MORE: 2020 Outlook: Becoming the Most Valuable Advisor | Top Three Tips for 2020 Success | 2020 Outlook: Where Do You Want to Be? | 2020 Outlook: Dicey Disruptions | 2020 Outlook: Upstream Mergers | 2020 Outlook: Staffing Gets Creative
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With cloud providers having significantly better security and disaster recovery resources than on-premise networks, we expect this will be another reason that the majority of firms give up managing their own networks (with the uber-large firms having their own IT/security consulting being the exception). However, all firms need to be training personnel on safe computing when remote, on being suspicious of unexpected emails (phishing), as well as social engineering attacks that could expose their login/password as well as put the firm at risk of ransomware.
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‘Learning Culture’ Requires Standardized Processes

Three people speaking by videoconferenceMake training a priority.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

For many firms, the ability to identify, standardize and implement best practices is the last remaining competitive advantage in business today as communications tools and access to technology have become available to everyone.

MORE: Centralize Contact Administration | Cutting Your QuickBooks Costs | Reclaim Time with Remote Deposit | Why Daily T/E Entry Should Be Required | Why Your Firm Needs Procedure Manuals | Digital Tax Workflow Requires a System, Not Projects | SURVEY: 60% of Firms Employ Remote Access Tools
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To take advantage of the continuous stream of innovation and opportunities, firms must adopt a “learning culture.” This requires a formal process to capture and standardize best practices in every department within the firm so that every person can take advantage of them.
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Centralize Contact Administration

Businesswoman talking on phoneYour practice management application will be home base.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

Many firms today maintain contact information within multiple applications such as practice management, Outlook, tax systems, and other marketing and CRM (customer relationship management) programs.

MORE: Cutting Your QuickBooks Costs | How to Transfer Files Securely | Going Digital with A/P Processing | Avoid Over-Auditing with ‘Document Containers’ | Beyond Email: New Digital Tools | Who Deletes Documents and When?
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Too often, a significant amount of time is wasted in firms pulling contact information together, reconciling and verifying lists for mailings, invitations, and even organizers. It is critical that firms centralize the updating of contact information for consistency.
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Cutting Your QuickBooks Costs

Office worker using a laptopAre licenses getting too pricey? There's a workaround.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

In the United States, QuickBooks is by far the most dominant small business accounting product on the market and will be the application that the majority of the firm’s clients use. Therefore, it is obvious that the firm must become proficient in supporting QuickBooks.

MORE: How to Transfer Files Securely | How Digital A/P Processing Boosts Productivity | How an ‘Owner’s Drawer’ Boosts Security | The Top Portable Monitors for Auditors | Why Scanning Procedures Matter
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Unfortunately, one of the biggest wastes of time is when firms support too many older versions of the software, which often leads to incompatibilities that can corrupt the database and make it unusable for clients. Fixing these errors creates lost time that is seldom charged to clients and instead impacts the profitability of these jobs.
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How to Transfer Files Securely

Portals should integrate with your workflow software.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

When dealing with digital files, the most effective way to transfer them is electronically over the internet either with secured email or through a portal.

MORE: How Digital A/P Processing Boosts Productivity | Reclaim Time with Remote Deposit | Why Daily T/E Entry Should Be Required | Digital Tax Workflow Requires a System, Not Projects | SURVEY: 60% of Firms Employ Remote Access Tools | Collaboration Should Tie In Messaging | The Best Defense Against Malware
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Many firms have emailed clients copies of tax returns and financial statements over the years. Unfortunately, this is not always the most secure method as the firm does not have control of the various internet service providers and the relay servers between the firm’s email server and the client’s email account.
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How Digital A/P Processing Boosts Productivity

Woman at laptop holding credit cardDedicate one credit card to this purpose.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

Processing accounts payable is another of the manually intensive processes within the firm’s administrative department that can be significantly streamlined through digital processes.

MORE: Reclaim Time with Remote Deposit | Going Digital with A/P Processing | Avoid Over-Auditing with ‘Document Containers’ | Beyond Email: New Digital Tools | Who Deletes Documents and When? | Capture Firm Knowledge on an Intranet
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Consider how many “touches” a single payable creates: receipt of the invoice, timing of payment in a folder, writing the check and attaching the stub, sending it to an owner for signature, filing a copy of check with backup in its own folder, and stuffing, sealing and sending the check to the vendor. Now imagine doing this a hundred times per month, every month. Imagine the volume of physical accounts payable vendor files both onsite and in storage, that can be eliminated by storing these images digitally.
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Reclaim Time with Remote Deposit

Woman using tablet in front of laptop and desktopBanks often provide the scanners.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

One of the easiest processes to convert to paperless with an immediate ROI is the firm’s system for depositing client checks. Manually receiving and physically going to the bank to deposit checks can be time-consuming and subject to too many errors.

MORE: Going Digital with A/P Processing | How an ‘Owner’s Drawer’ Boosts Security | The Top Portable Monitors for Auditors | Why Scanning Procedures Matter | Using Databases for Document Management | SURVEY: Firms Split on Mobile Device Management
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The manual procedure requires firms open mail on a daily basis, make copies to file in a binder, complete deposit slips and then send a person physically to the bank, which can easily take a half hour every day, five days per week, 52 weeks per year.
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Going Digital with A/P Processing

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Use a special A/P credit card.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

Processing accounts payable is another of the manually intensive processes within the firm’s administrative department that can be significantly streamlined through digital processes.

MORE: How an ‘Owner’s Drawer’ Boosts Security | Why Daily T/E Entry Should Be Required | Why Your Firm Needs Procedure Manuals | Digital Tax Workflow Requires a System, Not Projects | SURVEY: 60% of Firms Employ Remote Access Tools | Collaboration Should Tie In Messaging
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Consider how many “touches” a single payable creates: receipt of the invoice, timing of payment in a folder, writing the check and attaching the stub, sending it to an owner for signature, filing a copy of check with backup in its own folder, and stuffing, sealing and sending the check to the vendor.

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How an ‘Owner’s Drawer’ Boosts Security

Older businessman sitting at desk holding phoneBONUS: You sneak in some training.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

Improving firm efficiency means that the owners have to get on board. One of the more obvious opportunities is the delivery of the firm’s own financial reports.

MORE: Why Daily T/E Entry Should Be Required | Avoid Over-Auditing with ‘Document Containers’ | Beyond Email: New Digital Tools | Who Deletes Documents and When? | Capture Firm Knowledge on an Intranet | SURVEY: How Many Firms Back Up Data to the Internet?
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Many firms still print a hard copy of the monthly financials and distribute them to each owner, many of whom physically store these documents in a binder or drawer in their office.
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Why Daily T/E Entry Should Be Required

Man viewing desktop computer screenThis means owners and managers, too.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

Studies done over the past two decades have clearly shown that there is a significant improvement in realization for firms that enter, release and post time and expenses on a daily basis. This process allows for daily or “hotel”-type billing, which is sent out with the completion of each billable project.

MORE: Avoid Over-Auditing with ‘Document Containers’ | The Top Portable Monitors for Auditors | Why Scanning Procedures Matter | Using Databases for Document Management | SURVEY: Firms Split on Mobile Device Management | Need Internet? Grab Your Phone | SURVEY: IM Still Not Common at CPA Firms | The Best Defense Against Malware | SURVEY: 59% Deliver Invoices on Paper | Is It Time to Update Your Offsite Backups?
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The next step in the evolution of time and billing systems provided real-time dashboards to report on firm activities and effectively allow firms to generate invoices.
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Avoid Over-Auditing with ‘Document Containers’

Man's hands on computer keyboardTwo software apps to compare.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

Traditional audit practices use the previous year’s audit programs and processes updated for the current year as their standard operating plan.

MORE: How to Equip Field Auditors | Why Your Firm Needs Procedure Manuals | Digital Tax Workflow Requires a System, Not Projects | SURVEY: 60% of Firms Employ Remote Access Tools | Collaboration Should Tie In Messaging
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Eventually this can lead to a significant amount of “overauditing.” Breaking this habit is difficult as every level of staff has been trained in the manual processes and falls back on them when deadlines approach.
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The Top Portable Monitors for Auditors

Laptop with portable monitor attachedTest out mobile monitors before buying them in bulk.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

The advent of today’s audit “document container” applications has transitioned every aspect of audit production into a digital format.

MORE: Why Your Firm Needs Procedure Manuals | Beyond Email: New Digital Tools | Who Deletes Documents and When? | The New Risks in Cloud Efficiencies
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The key to successfully using these engagement applications is to make sure your personnel have the optimal equipment with them to work digitally. This includes multiple monitors, image capture equipment and remote communications capabilities.
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