The image of the practicing CPA is one that requires attention and thought. The aim is to appear as a solid, well-prepared professional. Part of that process is using apps that help us stay connected, organized, and accessible. Here are two apps CPAs should consider using.
KEEP TRACK OF YOUR STAFF WITH SIMPLE IN/OUT
When you're out of the office, your colleagues are (hopefully) back maintaining the home fires. Or are they? Keeping track of who's traveling, in a meeting, at their desk, or out for lunch is often a real problem. Enter Simple In/Out, which uses the one thing we all have—a cellphone—to check you in and out automatically by simply tracking your location.
Simple In/Out's iPad app, called FrontDesk, uses iBeacon technology to track when an employee (actually an employee's smartphone) is in the area. The system is based on geofences, a GPS-tracking tool that uses predefined boundaries. This allows employees to define, for example, their home office and have Simple In/Out recognize that location. It also provides privacy when a user is in any "undefined" space. So, when you're either at your desk, in a specific meeting room, in your home office, or in a specifically pre-identified client's office, the system knows. If you're anywhere else, the system reports you as "out."
Simple In/Out reasonably balances efficiency, efficacy, and privacy and just might be the digital solution you were looking for to solve a persistent analog problem: Where's Waldo?
- Website: simpleinout.com
- Operating systems: iOS, Android, Windows, web
- Cost: There are eight pricing plans. Basic, which covers up to 10 users, costs $9.99 per month or $107.99 per year. The most popular plan, Pro 50, which covers up to 50 users, costs $29.99 per month or $323.99 per year.
BUILD A STRIKINGLY WEBSITE; TRACK TRAFFIC WITH THE APP
At its heart, Strikingly is a website builder, but it's not just any website builder. It's one part desktop app, which combines a beefy design engine with an almost magical ability to unlock the treasure-trove of information that is your personal LinkedIn page. The second part is the mobile app for iOS, which allows you to track traffic analytics for your site.
Here's how it works. Just launch the desktop app, create an account, and provide your credentials for access to LinkedIn. The app then polls LinkedIn and grabs all those detailed data about you (if it's not detailed, then shame on you—you haven't been keeping your profile polished and up to date) and formats it into a great-looking individual webpage. While the desktop editor provides many opportunities to customize and tweak the page, I found the version the system automatically generated for me was simply gorgeous—especially considering it was created in less than two minutes! You can judge for yourself here: glafollette.strikingly.com. (Note: The mobile app's basic activity-tracking tools will allow me to see how many of you peeked!)
Apps that operate this smoothly are hard to find. Apps that operate this smoothly and are free are really hard to find. While there is a paid version, I find the basic free version to be quite adequate. The free version has some limits, including bandwidth. The paid "professional" version expands both bandwidth and tracking capabilities, provides for a dedicated domain name, and allows extra pages, among other things.
- Website: strikingly.com
- Operating systems: iOS, web
- Cost: Basic is free; Pro is $192 per year.
Greg LaFollette (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a strategic adviser with CPA.com, the commercial subsidiary of the AICPA.