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As the crisis around the new coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to expand, it has brought the US economy to a grinding halt.
While natural disasters and cybersecurity have pushed most CPAs and accounting firms to develop a business continuity plan, few had expected the huge impact of such an unprecedented massive outbreak. It is now important to take the right steps and reduce the impact of this crisis on your practice, clients, and workers.
These five steps can put you and your clients in a better position to tackle this challenge:
Keep your customers informed. Share business updates on your website, social media, or even through phone calls and emails. Keep your clients informed, in a timely manner, with documentation and advisories from the government like the extension of filing deadlines from April 15 to July 15. With almost no person-to-person interaction advised these days, you must have a system or client portal for receiving digital documents. Your clients might be confused about the steps to take if they can’t file their taxes on time. Communicating with your clients will put your clients’ minds at ease. Bottom line, stay connected with your clients and encourage them.
Like most large businesses, your accounting firm and CPA practice needs to be prepared for a long period of lockdowns and social distancing, probably weeks or even months. If you haven’t already, now is the time to move to the cloud. Nobody knows how long the coronavirus pandemic will grip the US and the world, but until it is over, most of your employees probably won’t return to the office. Choosing a cloud-based solution gives accountants access to all of the essential applications you need to efficiently run key functions. Applications like QuickBooks Online and XERO provide full accounting functionality in a secure environment, so you can work in real-time without confusion or delays.
Implement remote collaboration technologies like Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams, allowing your employees to communicate, collaborate, and stay connected virtually. Coronavirus has prompted several collaboration tool vendors including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Zoom, Cisco, LogMeln, Atlassian, and Loom to offer free trials of their premium services. This will help you and your team make a safe and successful transition to a remote working environment. Use powerful management platforms like Insight360 to take advantage of efficient tools and are backed with powerful security features.
In these times of unprecedented confusion, fear, and panic, your clients and customers need help from their trusted advisors more than ever. In addition to implementing virtual remote working tools for your team, you should also establish portals for clients and customers to upload tax documents or download copies of completed returns and work papers. Encourage your customers to move to the cloud to protect revenue.
Identify team members who will be dedicated to implementing the plan in a coordinated effort. Besides tracking the progression of the disease, the team should regularly communicate updates to clients and employees and share information and infographics from authorities. The task force team should be responsible for ensuring that CDC, NIH, and WHO guidelines are followed. The team should make sure they are up-to-date on the virus and its potential effects on your clients, practice, and business.
We at Analytix acknowledge that the constantly changing COVID-19 situation has created uncertainty for businesses and CPA firms alike. We are here to support you and your clients during these unprecedented times. We are working to bring you the best resources and information to help you navigate this challenging crisis.
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