Does today's outsourced CPA firm need a crystal ball to help their clients proactively? And does the choice of accounting systems affect the firm’s ability to forecast trends and identify opportunities?
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, how to leverage software and reporting that not only serves your firm’s needs but your client's needs too.
Your client wants KPIs (key performance indicators), dashboards, and advanced reporting. But clients also need your insights into what they should do to stay competitive. If you're an outsourced CFO, you'll need to understand how to combine accounting systems, client reporting needs, and your expertise to make your clients more successful.
Anticipating future needs
Debra shared fascinating insight into how accounting has evolved in recent times. The Accounting department used to be the red-headed stepchild, located in the back of the office, which processed transactions and issued reports. Auditing and tax professionals got more visibility than those dedicated to the daily processing of information.
But technology has evolved and so have the needs of executives.
First, it’s essential that accounting software leverage technology. By using a variety of software (including Vic.ai), companies can speed up the flow of data, from automated feeds to posting and payment. Manually posting transactions is a huge time waster, especially since automation can streamline those efforts.
Next, executives depend upon data-driven decision making. Proactive, current accounting reports have never been more valuable for making timely decisions, especially in a high-growth or fast-paced firm.
You'll need to anticipate if your client has enough cash for next week's payroll or next month's expenses.
As a trusted advisor, you'll need to tell them if AR (accounts receivable) is affecting cash flow and develop alternatives to address it. Accounting has evolved from transaction processing to being proactive drivers of change.
Does the accounting system support business decisions?
Accounting systems have advanced beyond restrictive desktop or server-based applications.
With the advent of cloud-based accounting systems, companies are rapidly transitioning to these platforms because of security, ease of maintenance, and reporting. But you'll also need to consider if the platforms connect to the apps you need to be most efficient. Once again, the ability to leverage technology and incorporate future needs will save you time and headaches.
Consider which accounting application is best for your client's industry. If they are in a specialized sector, you may have limited choices as to what accounting software works best for that industry.
If your client needs dashboards, KPI, and custom reporting, you'll have to consider what plug-ins will work best to meet their needs. Will they need real-time data or reporting that supports their strategic plan? Anticipating their accounting and reporting requirements will help you be proactive and choose the best application that is both effective and efficient.
Cloud technologies like QuickBooks, NetSuite, Sage/Intacct, Right Networks, and Microsoft Dynamics NAV dominate the industry. But it is your job to determine which one will help you anticipate the data-driven needs of your clients.
Favorite accounting systems
During a webinar polling question, we asked our attendees to let us know which accounting system they used. Can you guess what it was?
Hands down, it was QuickBooks Online. They like the ability to collaborate in the cloud securely, but Debra added some advice. Make sure you choose applications that will help you eliminate time wasters such as expense data feeds, bank reconciliations, and reporting.
Our audience loved Debra's enthusiasm in our webinar 5 Ways to Crush Your Time Wasters. As a top QuickBooks ProAdvisor, she has great insights on leveraging technology so you can be a proactive and valuable resource for your clients. Do you have any ideas of how to use technology to help your clients make better decisions? Please 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).