No matter how long you've been a CPA, you've probably witnessed significant changes in a short time.
Double-entry accounting (using pencil, paper, and an abacus) remained constant for over 500 years in the “pre-accounting” era. Calculators and electronic systems were introduced within the last 100 years, but the industry made great leaps with the introduction of automated, intelligent accounting systems less than 40 years ago.
Today, we're using cloud-based systems, specialized apps, and leveraging technology (like AI) to streamline processes and save time.
What's next for the future of accounting software? How do we make sure it's not burdensome, but efficiently provides the information necessary to make critical business decisions?
In our recent webinar, 5 Ways to Crush Your Time Wasters, we asked Debra Defer, Managing Director of Business Services and Outsourcing at BDO USA, LLP, for insights on data analytics and cloud-based software.
The shift from reporting to analytics
Today's business leaders rely on data-driven decisions to improve productivity, target opportunities, and remain competitive. Executives need insights, not just information, to stay competitive in today's rapid-fire business world. While we still need financial statements and cash flow projections, today's leaders need KPIs (key performance indicators) and insights – something that goes beyond traditional accounting reports.
In addition, over 90% of the world's data was created in the last three years. Data analytics are essential to rapidly process historical and real-time data, quickly providing previously hidden insights.
Debra discussed how CPAs can use analytics to help their clients achieve operational excellence and add value for their clients.
- Is their inventory on par for the upcoming Christmas season?
- Are AR (accounts receivable) collections slow, impacting cash flow and upcoming payroll?
In the past, we might have said that bad data is better than no data at all. Still, with today's analytics and reporting, it's not hard to leverage technology to provide real-time data and actionable insights.
Today's cloud-based applications are crucial to accessing and sharing data, investigating real-time metrics, and forecasting trends. But while we think that cloud-based accounting software is all about the data, it's really about the people who use it. How do you get people to change (like migrating to QuickBooks Online) when it takes extra time and effort?
Debra explained how BDO USA made it a team effort to encourage its outsourcing clients to use QuickBooks Online. The firm incentivized its staff to talk to their clients and encourage them to switch. They had great results within a short time and celebrated their success company-wide. Teamwork, support, and goal setting helped BDO transition their clients to a proven cloud-based platform that worked for their businesses – and saved them time from navigating multiple systems.
Trusted advisor and proactive business leader
Once you have the right software, you'll add value to your client engagements by providing not only reporting and analytics but the business drivers behind them. Making the connection between metrics and operations is one of the most valued aspects of the outsourced CPA – Client relationship.
Debra pointed out that analytics is also the key to running your own company efficiently. Internal metrics will help you target time-wasting activities and change them. Having metrics for your staff, company-wide productivity goals, and other analytics will keep your business focused and efficient.
Getting started means making a deep dive into your organization to see where there's a need for improvement. Once you identify those problem areas, you can put processes in place to improve them. Finally, tying those metrics to compensation will take analytics one step further, streamlining your operation for maximum efficiency.
Ready to stop wasting time?
Our recent webinar, 5 Ways to Crush Your Time Wasters, will help you find gaps where you're wasting time and money. Being productive is essential in today's business, and these tips are designed to help the outsourced CFO be successful with their clients and in their own business.
Got a favorite way to overcome time-wasting habits? We'd love to hear about them. Just post a comment below.
About Deborah Defer
Deborah has more than 30 years of accounting experience, both in industry and accounting firms. As Managing Director for BDO USA, LLP's Business Services & Outsourcing, her team is focused on consulting and training of clients regarding their accounting system analysis, recommendations, and implementation. She also serves as the firm's Technology Leader for all solutions utilizing the QuickBooks Online platform. Deborah has been selected to the Intuit Influencers, Top Business Process Outsourcing ProAdvisor of 2015 by Insightful Accountant, and Top 100 ProAdvisor for six consecutive years.
Deborah is also very active on social media. You can connect with Deborah Defer on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter @DeborahDefer (Dr. QuickBooks).