From the Oct. 2009 Issue
How well can your firm perform? Do you have the right clients, employees and
technology? Are you making the right decisions to improve your firm? Are you
being proactive? Economic conditions may be on your mind and influence you to
make passive or conservative decisions. A down economy may be just the right
time to create new client services that support business goals, and technology
may help you reach these goals.
YOUR NEXT ROUND OF TECHNOLOGY CHANGES HAS ARRIVED
This column is being written on a new computer running the new Windows 7 operating system with Office 2010. In fact, no software I’m using today is the same version as it was a year ago. This technology wave does not seem as disruptive as the last one, and the applications seem more compatible with each other and my specialized applications. I think you will find your situation similar.
Purchases in late 2009 and early 2010 will begin adoption of the next technology wave. Consider that for any machines purchased in this timeframe, you should do the following:
- Have Windows 7 Professional so you can run Windows XP mode.
- Have dual processors with at least 8GB of RAM.
- Convert any OEM licenses of Windows or Office to Open Licenses with software assurance within the first 90 days of purchase. This will accommodate upgrades to Office 2010 and more virtualization over the life of this acquisition, as well as permitting employees to use a copy of the new MS Office at home.
- Plan on training your people on the new version of Microsoft Office and Windows for at least two hours, but more time would be helpful.
The fundamental changes in Microsoft Windows technology should be transparent to most users, but Office 2010 will take a little adjustment compared to Office 2007 and a big adjustment compared to any prior version. A small investment in training will result in time savings throughout the organization.
Beyond the adoption of Windows 7 and Office 2010, you may want to consider
technology that allows you to provide better client service.
SO WHAT TECHNOLOGIES COULD HELP ME SERVE CLIENTS BETTER?
Asking a few other questions can help you better answer this question. What do my clients want and need? What would make my employees more efficient? What is practical and simple? What can improve the business workflow? What would advance my business goals and initiatives? We suggest creating a list of all items you believe would help the organization.
Some current winners in technology include the following:
- Workflow Software
- Paperless — Really, there are too many good applications to mention here. See www.totallypaperless.com. (And also see The CPA Technology Advisor's Free Document Management Selector.
- 1040 Workpaper Products
- SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) - A few of my favorites in this category:
- Hosted Services - Here are several good hosting companies. You may find that hosting applications, email or your VoIP work for you.
- Free VoIP Services - There are a myriad of free services that could provide you with multi-point voice or video services that save money and may improve voice quality.
- Web Meetings - Here are a couple, but there are many other vendors who supply live meeting applications.
- Web Productivity Applications - Many technology vendors off products thatcan supplement the day-to-day use of Microsoft Office.
- Protection Services — These products can keep your office safer:
- Virtualization — This is a wise investment whether on servers, desktops, laptops or virtual desktops. No new technology installation should be implemented without considering virtualization.