New economic realities are meeting next-wave technologies to create new opportunities for CPA firms, according to Mike Sabbatis, president of CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business.
How do you read the economy today?
Today, accounting firms face challenges everywhere on the horizon. The economy is in turmoil following a financial meltdown. Clients are experiencing tough times on a number of fronts. Political and regulatory changes are coming fast and furiously. Firms face the necessity of doing more by getting the most they can out of their professional staff. But all these challenges can add up to a tremendous opportunity. The firms that can help their clients now — with cost-effective solutions, practical guidance and foresight — are going to win clients for life.
Just what should CPA firms be doing today?
First, firms need to ensure that they have the tools to keep up with what is going on today, thereby staying informed on technical tax and accounting regs and rules. Tools such as CCH IntelliConnect, the latest evolution of CCH’s research platform, and CCH ClientRelate, which can pinpoint clients affected by legislative and regulatory changes, help firms keep up with, and profit from, the new rules that are coming at a fast pace.
Next, firms have to analyze every workflow and ask if technology can save time and make the best use of staff.
What’s CCH doing on the workflow issue?
CCH has been introducing a host of solutions in recent years, and we are continuing to invest and deliver new ones. ProSystem fx Scan with Autoflow Technology eliminates time-consuming data entry. TaxScripts Pro slashes the time it takes to create Disclosure Authorizations and request IRS transcripts. ProSystem fx Outsource offers onshore and offshore services to simplify tax return processing.
Later this year, we’ll introduce ProSystem fx Workstream, an integral component of our complete digital office. Workstream will help automate and manage a firm’s processes; it also helps budget hours so projects are completed on time. Workstream’s dashboard will display project stats and automatically notify any individual or group in the firm of an imminent project milestone.
How does Workstream fit into your vision of the future CPA firm?
We see an accelerated adoption of paperless workflows and technology, adoption of knowledge management practices and tools. It’s what we call “dynamic connectivity” — being able to connect to the person, process or piece of knowledge you need precisely when you need it, so you don’t trudge from one mini-task to the next, logging off one application and onto another. Instead, what you need is already at hand, ready to be picked up and used, with results flowing naturally to a conclusion. This feeling of flow is becoming natural to young people in their digital world — and we think it will become the norm in our profession.