CPA firms tend to be a cautious when it comes to technology – with good reason. Mistakes, even small ones, can create client issues or potential compliance problems.
One technology issue other industries have been working on – and solving – for years is becoming increasingly important in the Accounting Industry: application integration. Our technical environments typically involve many applications – for engagement management, audit processes, tax planning and prep, workflow etc. These single purpose solutions tend to do what they were designed to do very well – but they exist in their own silos.
Firms are starting to take notice. Here’s why:
- There‘s a tremendous amount of data redundancy. Simple things like client codes and client names exist in multiple systems.
- The lack of integration is an obstacle to generating useful reports. For example you might want to see information from your document management system in your time and billing system. Or you may want to compare the schedules in your scheduling system with time entry. There is a huge need to report across multiple systems.
In some ways we were given a false sense of security by the “suite” solutions. “Buy the package of applications – everything is integrated” we were told. There was some truth to that but as CPA firms adopted more of a corporate structure and more platforms and applications became available, few firms could live within the “box” the suites provided – so many one off solutions resided outside the suite.
The integration challenge is solvable whether you are using a suite or set of your own applications. You just need to find the right partner.