As Tax Season approaches, every Certified Public Accountant (CPA), including those based in Los Angeles, should be drawing up their to-do-lists. And at the top of this list should be reviewing and solidifying their computer hardware and software as well as their supporting technology related policies and procedures.
CPAs have become so dependent on their technology that keeping things up and running during Tax Season is more important than ever before. So having things buttoned up and tight BEFORE Tax Season hits, is an absolute necessity, not an optional extra.
The following are five things a CPA firm should do in advance of Tax Season to be confident that they are as well prepared as possible from an IT point of view:
- Lessons learned. Think back to last year and identify what worked well and where things perhaps fell down. Based on this, make a shopping list of anything new you might need to buy or do to fill any gaps so that all processes run as smoothly as possible. Complete this check as soon as you can and ensure you schedule in some time for a “lessons learned” session at the end of this season as well, while everything that happened is fresh in your memory.
- Update your software. Software updates come around very frequently so make sure you have the latest versions of all applications and programs. The exception to this rule is if an update requires you to make significant and time-consuming changes to any existing processes. In this case, it is preferable to wait until a quieter period, when you can implement the changes and carry out any necessary training for example, far more easily.
- Update your hardware. Based on your lessons learned review and identify whether you require any additional equipment or if anything needs upgrading or repairing. You need to be one hundred percent confident that everything is in good working order - so you can’t start this soon enough. Doing it early also means you will be in the best position to negotiate the best deal on any new IT equipment.
- Client Database. One of your most valuable and important IT assets is your client database. So, make time to get it in shape in advance of Tax Season. Review it, trim out any unhelpful information, like clients you are no longer in contact with, and make sure things like contact details are up to date. Off the back of this activity, get in touch with your clients a.s.a.p. in order to manage their expectations.
- IT Support. Even with the best preparation, things can go wrong so expect the unexpected and make sure you have an expert on speed dial. If things break down, you will need to get them up and running again as quickly as possible and the only way you can achieve this is with the right specialist support. Maybe even make contact with your regular, trusted sources of support in advance to gauge their availability over the season.
Tax Season is a busy time of year but getting organized with regard to your supporting technological infrastructure is the best way of ensuring you will be able to deliver your objectives on time and in the most efficient way.
The Bottom Line
Clients expect more today, and LA accountants need to be prepared.
If you do not have the expertise or knowledge in-house, there are third party vendors, such as FPA Technology Services, Inc., who can provide you solutions from consulting to managed services. You do not have to lose clients to competitors who have the advantage of better technology.
What are you doing to prepare your LA accounting firm for Tax Season? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments box below.
And to follow-through on the tips introduced in this short article, be sure to download your free guide, 12 Ways for CPA Firms in LA to Utilize Technology More Efficiently.