By: Randy Johnson
Continuing Professional Education (CPE) can be a wonderful thing or a painful one. Taking the time to improve yourself and your knowledge can be very exciting and beneficial. New insights, improved strategies, easier ways to accomplish mundane tasks, as well evolutionary and revolutionary ways of completing the work to run a business can be very rewarding.
Think about your top three business issues to resolve today. Picture the possible solutions. Have these issues persisted for more than three years? Were the issues aggravated by the recent economic conditions? What is your path forward to resolve these items? Does part of the solution involve technology? Would more knowledge be useful in identifying solutions and resolving the issues? Part of the benefit of State Association membership is networking with your peers who have similar responsibilities. Another part of the benefit of belonging to your state CPA Association is asking for help to find answers. Perhaps your State Association CPE coordinator could help you locate educational content to help. This knowledge can be delivered in-house, via the web, or through live delivery, including all-day courses or multi-day conferences.
What Is Working?
Both CPAs in Industry as well as the CPA in Public Practice tell us that the following technologies are making a difference in solving business issues:
1) Workflow—the ability to move work through a series of pre-defined steps is one of the highest ROI technologies today. Workflow systems organize and control procedures, and can inform management of the status of work in progress. Workflows can support assignment of work to team members, work load balancing and scheduling as well as different processes for tax, audit, bookkeeping, sales, HR, payroll, billing and other key functions. What type of workflow are you using?
2) Smartphones and Tablets—with over 50% of the U.S. market carrying a Smartphone and over 25% of all U.S. adults owning a tablet, wouldn’t it be wise to think about how to improve productivity and increase ROI in these investments?
3) Portals—since transferring information securely is a concern to many businesses, the ability to publish or transfer one or more documents through your web site can be a strategic tool. Making documents available in a portal should require minimal effort and be a natural part of the document creation or consumption process. How easy is it to use your portal?
4) Cloud Storage, Hosting and SaaS applications—the ability to have documents and data stored in the Cloud or accessible remotely, is a competitive advantage. Cloud Document Management, hosting or SaaS applications can be a significant shift in strategy. Have you considered your public Cloud, private Cloud, or hybrid strategy?
5) Access from any device, anytime, anywhere—the ability to get to any work from any device by the right people at the right place and the right time is a competitive advantage. Mobile technologies continue to improve and enable productive work from more places. Can you work as effectively at home or at a client site as you can in the office?
6) Collaborative Accounting—is the ability for multiple people to work in your accounting system at the same time. If you are in public practice, this would include providing client access. Most organizations are replacing their accounting system with their fourth generation of accounting. How appropriate is your system for your needs? When did you replace it last?
7) New Generation Microsoft Technologies—Microsoft has changed almost everything in the past year. Windows 8, Office 2013, Office 365, Windows Server 2012, Exchange 2013, SQL 2013 and more, are enabling new reporting technologies such as PowerPivot and Power View. These features are helping users build better dashboards and collaborate more accurately while quickly completing work. When did you get your last update on Microsoft Excel or Office? If you haven’t had, at least, a refresher course on Microsoft technologies in the past year, you certainly have a lot of potential personal gain.
8) Integration into and between systems—the ability to have your systems effectively talk to each other, including low end accounting software like QuickBooks or other key operational systems, is strategic. A pretty good rule here is “if an accountant is keying data, there is a broken process.” Are your systems as connected as you would like them to be?
9) Collaboration—is the ability to have documents or data in a shared or common structure where one or more users can simultaneously update the information. Note that this can be in the Cloud or in a private Cloud your organization has created. Working in teams or being able to delegate and review easily are important hallmarks of effective use of collaboration. How easy is it for you to collaborate with other team members?
10) Apps—Solving business problems seems to moving from broad systems that do it all, to point systems that address a few issues plus have the benefit of integration. Yes, big ERP systems still exist and yes they are still challenging to implement, but the other end of the market has exploded. What do you know about apps that can solve some of your business issues?
This list is not intended be comprehensive, but merely reflective of key technologies that can make a difference in achieving specific business strategies and tactics. Can you with great confidence know that you have command and control of this simple list of ten technologies? What about the technology opportunities that you don’t know about?
But That’s Not All! Get Help from NCACPA!
Part of the reason our K2 organization has enjoyed a long-term relationship with NCACPA is the ability to help you, the member, with increased productivity and technology savvy. Whether you are faced with strategic or tactical decisions that involve Cloud technologies, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), mobile and tablet technologies, accounting software, document management, workflow or an overhaul of your core operational systems, our K2 team prepares courses with your needs in mind.
NCACPA not only produces a two-day technology conference where all of the technologies above are discussed including practical demonstrations, but also implementation strategies and risks are covered, along with quality CPE as well. A key difference between CPE and what a vendor tells you is that facts and practical application need to be a part of your CPE experience. Beyond the technology conference, your Association has specialty conferences, all-day courses, webinars and in-house education that can help you and your team members. Isn’t it wise to invest in your business and yourself?
Register today for NCACPA’s TechFest Summer Conference August 19–20 to hear more from guys at K2!
Randy Johnston is a shareholder in K2 Enterprises, where he develops and presents continuing professional education programs to accounting, financial, and other business professionals across North America. You may contact him at [email protected].