Time to review your software options?
Is your firm being held back by software choices that are now long overdue for review?
From FRS 102 and Clarity ISAs to iXBRL and online filing, change has become a way of life for tax and accounting professionals. On top of legal and regulatory changes there are the challenges of rising client expectations and mounting fee pressure. The right software can undoubtedly help a practice meet these challenges and exploit new opportunities but today's problems can't be solved by yesterday's IT solutions.
Many practices have come to realise that a review of their technology choices is now long overdue, as Wendy Rowe, Head of Product Management for CCH Software at Wolters Kluwer explains: "A lot of firms have been using the same software suite for a decade or more. While their compliance software has been regularly updated, the underlying architecture and the way in which the software allows the practice to use data and interact with its clients has often remained more or less static. It's no wonder that these practices are losing their competitive edge since the business context in which they're working has changed dramatically in the last 10 or 15 years. They're now looking for software that's fit for the future."
"Take document management as an example," says Wendy. "With more online filing there are far fewer hardcopy documents being printed so electronic document management has become standard even in smaller practices. The CCH Central suite includes a fully integrated document management system so documents can be filed straight into the client file from any application or automatically from an incoming email, based on known email addresses. Yet some practices are still struggling with a standalone document management system that's been bolted on. It's inefficient and wastes potentially chargeable time."
Wendy thinks that accountancy firms need to raise their expectations and demand more of their software supplier. "If you have to maintain separate spreadsheets to track workflow, then something is wrong; workflow management should be a natural part of your software suite. The CCH Workflow system takes this even further by actually automating steps in the workflow – for example, adding a new client to the database can automatically create and email out an engagement letter, eliminating the risk of missing an important step."
And then, of course, there are the continually evolving needs of your clients; a new generation of business owners has brought new ideas about how their accountant can add value and new expectations about mobile and online access to information and advice. "Our client portal allows an accountancy practice to exchange information and share files securely 24/7," says Wendy, "but that's just the starting point for our vision of the future-fit practice. Business is mobile and technology has to recognise that. For us it's not about a sterile Cloud vs On-premise debate, it's about delivering the tools that accountants and their clients need so they can work together, now and far into the future."
Of course no one can predict what the future will hold for the accountancy profession but those who plan ahead will undoubtedly be in a better place to exploit emerging opportunities. And the best time to start that process is right now.
Want to review your options? Visit the Wolters Kluwer website.