As a practicing CPA in Los Angeles, you’re no doubt aware of how integral IT has become to your role. Long gone are the days of paper spreadsheets. You use the latest and greatest software, while billing and invoicing are also handled electronically. Indeed, there’s a good chance that every aspect of your work day is now dominated in some way by technology. But, do you know how to make the most of it?
While we like to think that IT is indeed fabulous, it isn’t without its pitfalls. How many of the following IT mistakes have you found yourself guilty of? Such mistakes are easily made, but almost as easily rectified or avoided altogether. Don’t allow yourself to be left behind by the competition. Get a grip on your IT before it gets too far out of hand.
1. Failure to manage updates and upgrades
One of the biggest IT mistakes of all may not feel like a mistake at the time; perhaps you feel that your software is good enough or you can’t justify spending money to upgrade a particular product. However, months down the line, you may come to realize that your equipment simply isn’t up to snuff and find yourself having to pay even more just to fix things. When it comes to accountancy, too often “good enough” just doesn’t cut it. You need to be making the most of your technology and ensuring that it’s working at its very best. The world of finance is always changing, so make sure your IT is keeping up.
2. Failure to keep technology secure
Your firm will handle incredible amounts of data on a daily basis, including information pertaining to both the company and its clients. It would be utterly devastating, and not to mention costly, if this data was to get lost or fall into the wrong hands. It is essential that you take the time to ensure your IT is as secure as it can be – at a minimum, protecting data with malware and firewalls and regularly updating passwords. Now is also the time to think about encryption if you haven’t already and to create an AUP (Acceptable Use Policy) so you’re your staff are aware and adhering to all of the security measures that your firm has in place.
3. Forgetting to create a Disaster Recovery Plan or even backing up files
How often do you dedicate an entire afternoon to a document or spreadsheet, only to press Save once you’re exiting the program? It is absolutely crucial that you remember to save documents as you go and to make multiple copies of such files on back-up disks or external drives. It would be heartbreaking to lose an hour’s work, let alone if your network went down and took a months’ worth of files with it. Forgetting to press save, or backing up your documents, is almost a criminal offense these days. But it is easily reconciled.
Similarly, does your CPA firm have a documented Disaster Recovery Plan? Do you know what you’d do if you suddenly lost power or were hit by vandalism or a natural disaster? It would be a mistake to assume that those kinds of things won’t happen to you. So ensure every base is covered.
4. Losing out on social media and app engagement
It’s important to be as accessible as possible when it comes to engaging with your clients and attracting new ones. Have you considered how social media could help your company? Have you investigated the benefits of an app? Overlooking such platforms could be your biggest IT mistake to date, so be sure to consider the online image you’re projecting.
5. Relying on technology too much
These days, technology is designed to do almost everything for us. It can be so tempting to mindlessly let it (IT) do all the hard work. That would be a huge mistake. Technology is just as fallible as we are and relying a little too much on your computer could leave clients feeling as though they’re talking to a robot rather than a person. IT may be a huge part of your day, but don’t let it define how you’re perceived. Leverage IT to help you deliver better customer service rather than being seen as just another bean counter.
As I’m sure you’d agree, technology is everywhere these days. Which means there’s a lot of potential for making IT mistakes - some of them more costly than others. Remember that to succeed in this brave new world, you need to embrace IT wholeheartedly, but never forget that it, too, is fallible.
What's your take on technology? Are there are any shortcuts or favorites you have that make your life as a CPA easier that you'd like to share? If you have any hints or tips for fellow CPAs, please share them with us in the Comment field below.
To follow through on the tips introduced in this article, be sure to download our free guide 12 Ways for CPA Firms in LA to Utilize Technology More Efficiently.