With all the things that accounting firms have going on right now – namely tackling remote and hybrid working, juggling vast tax law changes, helping clients with government programs, and more – addressing technology can sometimes be on the back burner. The brutal reality is that the further firms get behind on technology, the more they lose their competitive advantage and ultimately end up making things harder for themselves both in the long and short term.
So when you have a minute to pop your head out of the piles on your desk and the spreadsheets on your screen, do a quick scan of your firm and make sure you’re not making these common mistakes. If you are, keep calm, we’ve got you covered with quick steps you can take to prevent a catastrophe while you’re busy taking care of your clients.
Here are some of the most frequent accounting technology blunders, as well as how to fix them.
Poor Security Practices
Employees who do not have any basic cybersecurity training are far more vulnerable to security threats. Simulated phishing training is one of the most basic and effective methods for your firm to enhance its cybersecurity. All employees should be required to go through hands-on simulated phishing email training. According to a recent study conducted by Cofense, 82 percent of employees who received email phishing training were able to identify a phishing email within the first minute of receiving it.
Now you can stop frantically trying to remember passwords and let LastPass or Practice Protect take care of your password management for you. All account information is stored in a secure vault and with the auto-fill feature, there’s no need to write down any login information. The software also has two-factor authentication so that even if someone does find your credentials, there’s an additional layer of security that they have to go through.
Let’s talk about enforcing software updates schedules, a high-priority security measure. Continuously updating your firm’s software keeps you safe from hackers who might exploit old vulnerabilities. Many firms don’t prioritize updating their software regularly enough, but it really makes an impact when it is done regularly – every time you update your apps you’re protecting it against potential loopholes that could expose private information or be used to gain access into the company servers.
Using Outdated Hardware
Some firm owners believe they are saving money by not purchasing or updating their hardware. When you consider that outdated hardware can also lead to increased crashes and more downtime, the tradeoff begins to make less and less sense. Also, using outdated hardware is a significant security risk.
In many cases, the producers have discontinued any technical help for this antiquated equipment. This also implies that fewer software upgrades are available, which is a security vulnerability in and of itself. With fewer upgrades, cybercriminals and hackers can exploit vulnerabilities and potentially breach your firm’s data.
To prevent more serious hardware problems, keep an eye on your inventory and change equipment every three or four years. Migrating more data to the cloud reduces overall server dependency, and prevents security-related downtime.
Lack Of Microsoft 365 Adoption
Organizations worldwide are dealing with more data than ever before, and it can be daunting to manage it well. CPA firms often have to figure out how to organize, access, and share files while also thinking about security, regulation, and privacy. SharePoint is a powerful Microsoft 365 tool that can help firms authorize the right employees to access the data they need.
There are several advantages of using SharePoint for your firm:
- SharePoint offers more security than a physical server.
- It enables real-time editing, which is ideal for companies requiring streamlined collaboration or working remotely.
- Lost files can be recovered with cloud backup.
Ultimately, SharePoint can help your firm improve productivity, streamline operations, AND improve organizational security. It also offers customized workflows and data access controls that can help your firm remain compliant with current regulations.
SharePoint is a powerful tool that your accounting firm should employ to the maximum extent possible, and one of the best aspects of SharePoint is that it comes standard with Microsoft 365!
Not Streamlining Your Processes with Software
Organizations around the world are attempting to figure out how to automate and construct workflows in such a way that their employees can function more quickly. Nonsensical errors, the need for more employees to be trained on your processes and procedures in order to maintain current workflow, laborious documentation of transactions, and time-consuming paperwork are just a few examples. Many of these problems can be addressed by using productivity software. Successful CPA firms not only embrace new technologies but often use them to automate more time-consuming tasks.
monday.com is a platform that allows for customizable workflows, and the good news is that it probably already fits in your app stack. monday.com offers over 3,000 integrations, and it can help streamline operations while also keeping employees accountable.
Why spend time working on tasks that can be automated? Gusto can help you automate your payroll, benefits, W-2s, and more. The company has already built integrations with some of the main accounting programs on the market, such as QuickBooks and Xero.
Expensify can help track company spending in real-time, and it eliminates the need for constant manual receipt input. Your CPA firm may use Expensify to automate the cost-tracking process, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your practice.
Evaluate Your Technology and Take It to the Next Level
There’s no doubt that your company should be investing in technology to keep its data safe. While some firm leaders believe they are benefitting their bottom line by not purchasing new hardware or software upgrades, the fact is that your technical infrastructure is one of the most crucial elements of your business.
Technology is about more than just protecting your data: it can allow your company to streamline operations, scale more efficiently, and collaborate more effectively. To find out where your firm currently stands with its technology infrastructure take our CPA Technology Check-up to receive your tech score!