If you’re a certified public accountant (CPA) in Los Angeles and are looking for ways to improve your firm, I have put together some advice and examples of what some highly successful CPA firms are doing. After all, there are reasons why they’re gaining merit in the industry, and their successes (and failures) serve as lessons you can learn from
As a business owner, you can’t assume that you’re doing everything possible to grow your firm — there always is room for improvement, including in areas relating to information technology (IT). You can look at how other firms successfully leverage their CPA IT tools to ensure you’re making the most of every available resource.
What do top-performing LA CPA firms do as a habit? They:
1: Embrace the Digital World
Virtually all CPA firms these days use digital content and few, if any, rely on paper, pens and hard copy folders. How is the integration of digital in your firm? By this, I mean that most successful firms automate as many processes as possible — everything from workflows, client write-ups and timecards to document management and online file sharing. They leverage technology to ensure their operations are most effective. By embracing this digital approach, the most successful companies outperform the competition by offering more efficient and reliable services.
2: Start with the Basics: Press ‘Save’
According to Cisco, 70% of IT professionals “believe the use of unauthorized programs resulted in as many as half of their companies’ data loss incidents.” However, other more frequent causes of data loss include human error, hardware malfunctions or software issues, and malicious attacks.
There are few things more frustrating or damaging to a business than losing work, as this results in lost productivity and revenue. And there’s nothing more preventable than something as simple as a CPA forgetting to press “save” before their computer locks up, hiccups, or has a power dip. This is why it’s important to cover the basics by getting into the habit of saving every time you make changes to a document. The best performing firms train their staff in the best practices down to the smallest details, including something as simple as pressing save often.
3: Have Multiple Backup Systems
Much like pressing “save,” creating multiple backups for your work is a great habit to adopt and practice. A single copy saved to your computer’s hard drive isn’t enough these days. Successful CPA firms often will keep several digital, encrypted copies of each file to ensure that data is recoverable should one format fail.
4: Become Well-Versed in Firewalls and Security Protocol
As a CPA, your responsibilities include handling tons of sensitive data for your firm and for your clients. The best performing firms invest in securing their information via firewalls, antivirus, and antimalware solutions to support their strong security policies. For this reason, it is essential to your business for you to familiarize yourself with security software and firewalls to ensure that your system — and everything contained within it — is safe from hacking attempts, viruses, and ransomware.
5: Investigate the Use of Cloud-Based Operating Systems
Top tier firms have, at least, evaluated the benefits of the cloud and to figure out ways to leverage appropriate cloud-based technologies to improve their service delivery. Whether via file sharing platforms or document management systems, they seek to leverage the benefits of the cloud how and where they can. Investigating cloud-based systems not only shows your clients that you’re current but that you’re also seeking ways to enhance the services you provide. This shows them that you’re looking out for their best interests.
6: Unify Their Communications
Highly successful CPA firms recognize that being contactable via one phone line, via a single phone number, is an inefficient way to manage contacts. Effective firms use voice over IP (VoIP) systems, virtual numbers, and mobile accessible communication networks: this enables them to provide superior, reliable service to their customers and keep in touch regardless of location. They also leverage the power of unified communications to enhance their client relationships.
Additionally, by integrating your phone system with your customer relationship management (CRM) package brings the customer service experience to a whole new level.
7: Use Social Media to Maximize Their Reach
Highly successful CPA firms recognize that it takes more than delivering quality service to attract new customers and retain existing ones. Nowadays, clients are expecting their trusted advisors to provide knowledge and information outside the traditional communication channels. This means making yourself as accessible as possible to engage with your clients and attract new ones where they are — via social networking platforms, aka social media.
With the advent of social media, the person or firm with the loudest and most consistent messaging wins. It’s more than simply reaching out and having an identifiable brand. Setting up social media profiles for your company on different platforms is incredibly easy, yet it can improve your business tenfold. Just be sure to have a robust social media policy in place.
To follow through on the tips introduced in this article, but sure to download our free guide 12 Ways for CPA Firms in LA to Utilize Technology More Efficiently.
Have we missed anything? Which of these best practices is your firm following? How do you recommend firms improve their use of CPA IT tools? Share your experiences in the comments section below.