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By Randolph P. Johnston and Leslie Garrett
Related reports available exclusively from CPA Trendlines:
The Accounting Firm Operations and Technology Survey Report for Medium and Large Firms covers 86 critical questions in 98 succinct pages for firms with 11 or more persons. Some two-thirds of the firms report revenues in the $1 million to $5 million range.
The Accounting Firm Operations and Technology Survey examines the inner workings of accounting firms – including operations and the technology being used.
Eye-opening trends found in the survey include:
- Firm administrators in medium firms appear to be getting increasingly more involved with technology purchase decision-making.
- Revenue, headcount, and profit are increasing for most firms.
- Unfortunately, the data also indicates that, as firms get larger, the benefit of having more partners is typically not realized.
- Some medium firms may be inhibiting their growth for lack of a person devoted to operations or firm administration.
- Medium-sized firms appear to hit a ceiling when they reach $10 million in annual revenue.
- And it may be difficult for firms with up to 100 full-time employees to rise above $25 million in annual revenue.
The report is divided into nine main sections:
- Practice Management
- Technology Management
- Operating Systems
- Computer Hardware
- Application Software
- File & Data Storage/Management
- Remote Access/Internet/Telecommunications
- Technology Spending, Decision-Making, Annoyances and Trends
Observations and Trends Report: For each section of the survey, the research team provides insight and analysis in an Operations and Trends Report
Thought Leadership: Several of the profession’s most respected thought leaders weigh-in and provided insight into select results: Daniel Hood, Editor-in-Chief of Accounting Today, Rick Telberg President and CEO of CPA Trendlines, and Bob Scott, Executive Editor of The Progressive Accountant.
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A WORD FROM THE RESEARCH TEAM
Randolph P. Johnston, Chairman and CEO, Network Management Group
Leslie Garrett, PhD, CEO, Insight Research Group
In an effort to assist you in navigating this resource, we recommend starting with the table of contents and locate the section of greatest interest; start there first.
At the top of each page, you will find the bar chart key for easy reference. Skim the questions in a section and then go through one question at a time, note the responses and trend lines. Each section contains the survey questions followed by bar charts showing the top results for prior and current year by size of firm. Following each survey section, you will find a brief write-up about the section.
SELECTED HIGHLIGHTS and INSIGHTS
Among the report's key findings:
- Many firms may be wasting money on over-buying laptops, considering that the vast majority of staffers still work mainly at the office.
- Recruiting and retention are the biggest challenges for most firms.
- Large firms are getting bogged down compared to the medium firms that are moving faster to change, evolve and modernize.
- Large firms seem to be watching budgets more closely, while medium firms are increasingly spending on technology.
- While referrals remain the main source of new clients, the Internet is overtaking referrals from other professions, like law and finance.
- Medium and large firms agree the most effective way to control costs is through upgrading technology and improving workflows. But, they admit, they don't know where to start.
- Most medium and large firms are looking toward mergers and acquisitions for growth.
SELECTED BENCHMARKS and COMPARISONS
The report establishes numerous important data points for firms to reference in assessing their own operations and potential opportunities for improvement. For example:
- 95 percent of large firms and nearly 45 percent of medium firms handle IT support by employing one or more IT person.
- Larger firms find advantage in running exchange servers internally while medium firms host email one-half of the time.
- Up to 25 percent of team members use a tablet for work-related tasks, while 32 percent of medium and 15 percent of large firms indicate they do not use tablets.
- Large firms have increased their reliance on brand name servers, while medium firms are exploring lesser-known brands.
- Large firms are migrating to HP/Compaq as their desktop computer of first choice.
- Firms are moving to three-monitor work-stations.
- Firms are lagging – especially large firms – in the adoption of current versions of Microsoft Word, with many still operating on MS Word 2010.
- Medium firms have been adopting Office 365, perhaps as a cure for license deficiency.
- XCM owns 20 to 30 percent of the medium and large firm market.
- CCH dominates the medium and large firm tax software market.
- QuickBooks continues to dominate as the software of first choice for write-up and bookkeeping.
- Almost all firms appear to be exploring a variety of cloud services.