Column: My Perspective
From the December 2010 Issue
All too often, we hear that the accounting profession is slow to change. It is true that some accountants are set in their ways … resistant to change from traditional modes of operation to a new way of doing business. Others have been labeled technology laggards. These observations aren’t completely off course. The profession as a whole still has some ground to cover when it comes to upgrading workflow and adopting leading technologies. However, it’s about time we gave ourselves a little credit and celebrated how far we’ve actually advanced.
I recently had the opportunity to give a keynote presentation to a few hundred attorneys. I spoke to them about technology, going paperless and workflow processes. In a room of more than 200, only one attorney raised his hand to indicate that his firm was paperless. As I pressed him about what “paperless” meant to him, he indicated that his firm doesn’t store paper, but instead maintains all documents electronically in Windows Explorer.
I went on to ask the group how many had implemented portals for document delivery. Again, only one hand went up, and his definition of a “portal” described a solution that was really little more than email. By the end of the presentation, all I could think about was that I now have a new appreciation for how far the accounting profession has advanced in terms of technology and workflow.
I spend a great deal of time talking with accounting professionals around the country. Many practitioners express how difficult it is to keep up with the technological changes that continue to inundate them. Most do feel a bit “behind the curve.” But after my exposure to the legal profession, I want to say this to each of you: It’s time to celebrate your successes. As practicing accountants, we not only have to keep up with new tax laws and financial statement standards, but we also have to spend time managing our practices, recruiting new talent, researching and implementing technologies, and updating software solutions. And yet, despite our crazy schedules, we still manage to move forward in terms of technology adoption. There are very few professions that utilize the breadth of software applications that we do. We truly have come a long way.
So while I am advising you to recognize our successes, I’m not advocating that we rest on our laurels. Even with all that the profession has accomplished, there is still much to do. We must continue to push our firms along. Many of you still need to complete your paperless strategy. Others need to develop and implement a portal strategy and/or refine a client accounting online strategy. Additionally, you must maintain a clear focus on strengthening your brand, including your web presence and social media plan.
For more ideas, check out my article about Client Accounting Online, also from this issue. I believe this strategy is a real game changer for accountants, along with tax document automation. Be sure to also read our reviews of solutions that can help your clients move toward a paperless environment. We’ve written about dozens of such tools over the past year, and we will continue to write about them. It’s not enough to just transition our firms to paperless; we must also move our clients along. Most of all, though, as we reach the end of another year, remember to take the time to celebrate your successes.