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While technology can ease the modern CPA’s workload, it can also drive them completely mad. To help control the chaos and boost productivity, CPAs require a Tech Stack. It’s a set of third-party apps and connected services designed to work together and boost your daily efficiency and effectiveness.
Sensitive data, regulatory changes, and savvy competitors force CPAs to construct Tech Stacks that are secure, agile, scalable, and connected. This may sound far-fetched at first, but digital innovation has made it a reality for even the more non-technical CPA. Today, things such as cloud, mobility, and connectivity are standard features in any Tech Stack. CPAs now have unprecedented low-cost access to cutting-edge software, advanced automation, and data-crunching capabilities.
Scope of Accounting Technology Ecosystem
There is one drawback that comes with all this access — unprecedented complexity. For instance, take the upcoming AccountEx, a technology-focused event in Boston. This one conference has attracted over 100 exhibitors (You’ll find Analytix at Booth 213 actually). But these exhibitors represent only a fraction of the CPA solution providers that connect and compete in today’s Accounting Technology Ecosystem.
Tech Stack Challenges
More options mean more Digital Transformation — and more complexity in platform training, management know-how, and departmental staffing. Today, it’s virtually impossible for any CPA to digest all this technology and make an accurate assessment of each vendor and platform combination. Perhaps that’s one reason research indicates 70% of digital transformation decision-makers, regardless of their industry, fail to reach their stated goals.
So let’s think about how to do it right. We’ll begin by stating these Tech Stack anatomy basics:
CPA Super Friends
One place to begin listening is Facebook Live. Every Friday morning a group of industry peers share their enthusiasm for improving the modern CPAs back office operations and bottom-line results. “Zoom In With Seth,” (hosted by Seth David of Nerd Enterprises) is billed as being a live webinar, but actually functions more like a collaborative workshop. A group of six to nine individuals share their screens, while others type away in the chat section, adding insights and sharing links.
Last week’s discussion was inspired by Seth’s own experience. For over a year, he’s been customizing his own smart back office and decided it’s time to share his findings with the show’s guests and audience. As it turns out, a domain expert and speaker at AccountEx 2019, Steven King, wrote a post last year, entitled How to Get a Smart Back Office That Drives Growth. It helped inspire Seth to experiment with various Tech Stack combinations.
I encourage you to listen to this hour-long discussion or pick out the sections that interest you. Here are the key topics, takeaways, and quotes to help you better navigate the video:
Developing a New Mindset
At the 8-minute mark, Seth shares a method he’s refined for planning and improving his tech stack. It comes down to this: “Ask yourself, does it solve a problem I haven’t solved, or does it one-up an existing solution?” If it’s a no for both, skip it and simplify the planning process. Focus on only your tech stack gaps.
Adjusting Your Strategy
At the 9-minute mark, Seth suggests you approach the problem in a different way. He then shares his screen to review the major areas that Stephen talked about in his smart back-office article by breaking it down into sub-levels.
Keeping it Simple
At the13-minute mark, Seth dives into his tactics for simplifying the planning process. “I’ve got a pretty thorough list of apps here in the apps tab. And we’re now going to choose one app for each sub-category.”
Mixing In-House and Outsourcing
At the 16-minute mark, Seth hands it over to Mathew Fulton, managing partner of Parkway Business Solutions. Mathew is an Advanced Certified QuickBooks Online ProAdvisor and Workflow Specialist. Mathew speaks about how his company doesn’t grapple with In-house vs. Outsourcing but rather takes a hybrid approach. “What I’ve found to be some of the biggest benefits of using an outsourced team is flexibility of workforce. This makes it a lot easier to scale your business.” Mathew speaks from experience as he’s been an Analytix Solutions partner for over two years.
At the 16-minute mark, Satish Patel, CEO of Analytix Accounting Solutions drills into what’s likely the largest problem and opportunity for CPAs, communication. “So we’re familiar with what CPAs go through every single day. One of the biggest challenges that we find everybody’s having is in communications.” Satish then goes into specifics, “How do you make onboarding successful? A lot of challenges come from these initial conversations.” To help solve this primary issue, Analytix offers a complimentary analysis for partners to better understand the quality of a new client’s books. This tends to make initial conversations more productive and worthwhile.
Insisting on Third-Party Know-How
At the 32-minute mark, Lynda Artesani, president of Artesani Bookkeeping, shares her experience working with third-party apps and service providers. A key factor in working with a third-party is the depth of their domain expertise. So if you are in a niche business, verify whether the third-party app or service provider has experience in your specialty. In Lynda’s words, “do they know the lingo and all the things you need to know?” Many CPAs who work in niche businesses like, Trust Accounting, eCommerce, Franchises, or Restaurants should insist on finding solutions that connect with their current systems. Lynda’s also been an Analytix Solutions partner for quite some time and specializes in accounting with law firms.
AI: Increase Your Value
At the 36-minute mark, Seth discusses the power of artificial intelligence to boost the value of client conversation. One particular vendor topped Seth’s list. “If you are not using Chata.ai, you don’t know what you’re missing!” he exclaimed.
What’s the appeal? With Chata.ai, says Seth: “It’s really easy to have a conversation about why expenses were so high one particular month but so low another month. These are the conversations we should be having with our clients to add real value, well beyond just doing the books.”
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