I have always been concerned that as a profession we have relied on the post engagement work in process file as our primary engagement profitability management tool. The problem is that this is after the fact and contributes to a high degree of write-offs and write-downs. The sooner we can iden- tify if an engagement is deviating from the plan, the sooner we can take corrective action and that will translate directly into improved profitability and cash flow. This is a big reason why I think a logical design of workflow software is to directly integrate it with the practice management system.
DO WE GO FROM HERE?
I hope this article has provided some new insight into the world of workflow software. I recommend that as the next step in expanding your knowledgebase on this potential “killer application,” you should visit the websites of the vendors listed alongside this article and participate in a web demonstration of their solutions. You will discover firsthand the wide-ranging scope of features, functions and overall design approach that each vendor takes. If nothing else, I think you will find it to be a real eye-opening experience about the potential for workflow software to help you improve the quality, efficiency and profitability of your practice.
I would be remiss in my explanation of workflow software if I didn’t identify one very important distinction. Some workflow systems are designed to be document centric, where the focus is entirely on routing an individual document. Other solutions are engagement centric, where the focus is on managing all of an engagement’s files and information as a group. Remem- ber this as you look at the different systems and find yourself scratching your head wondering how the scope of solutions can be so diverse.
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John Higgins, CPA.CITP, is the Strategic Advisor for CPA Crossings, LLC, Rochester, Michigan. John specializes in advising accounting, tax and financial professionals on how to leverage technology to improve productivity and profitability. Visit their CPA Technology Best Practices CPE Center at www.cpacrossings.com or contact John directly (firstname.lastname@example.org).