Not Your Grandma’s CPA
What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘accountant’? Stereotypes peg them as bean-counting hermits who live in a cubicle. One article quips that the world thinks of CPAs as “a bunch of number-crunching math freaks who love taxes and spend Saturday nights playing calculator bingo.” The truth is, there’s no longer such a thing as the cliché CPA, solitarily sifting through shoeboxes full of receipts.
As the business world becomes more complex and technology continues to dramatically advance, accounting professionals are now required to be proactive problem solvers and trusted advisors. They can be found in every industry, because every organization needs them. Accountants consistently rank among the top professionals in order of importance to businesses, and the role they play continues to expand beyond keeping the books.
“Many people think accountants have boring jobs in which they work alone with tedious numbers,” says Louise A. Miller, an Accounting instructor for South University. “On the contrary, accounting work today involves substantial social interaction, and accountants often must be creative in solving the varied problems they encounter.” Because technology and software programs have taken over many basic accounting responsibilities, professionals in this field are now expected to play a much more complex role.
In other words, gone are the days when accountants had the luxury of passively meeting with clients once per year to do their taxes, or quietly sitting in a cubicle running numbers. There are widely-available, inexpensive software programs that make that sort of accounting extinct, and they’re rapidly transforming the world as accountants know it.
The People Business
In his article, “It’s Time to Get Out from Behind Your Desk,” in Accounting Today, CPA and author Peter A. Margaritis makes a powerful case for the need to break through perceived accounting stereotypes in order to stay in business. “Projects will require less number-crunching and more proficiency in communicating and relationship-building,” he states. “Is it crazy to think that Microsoft Excel may be extinct in less than 10 years?”
Margaritis goes on to explain that the key to thriving in this brave new world of accounting will be developing competencies in interpersonal skills, which will become the differentiators for successful CPAs. To be considered trusted advisors that sit at the decision-making table and provide valuable input, they’ll need to get out from behind the desk and get to know their clients and business better.
Sounds overwhelming, you say? How can you possibly get out from behind your desk, when you can’t even see over the daunting stacks of files on top of it? The solution is TECHNOLOGY.
Accounting professionals need to leverage that same technology that could potentially make them obsolete in order to stay competitive. Luckily, the options are many and pretty amazing. For example, in the document-heavy world of accounting, where time equals billable hours (i.e. MONEY), and excellent document management is essential. Accounting professionals need much more than a system for storing files; they need a full-featured Document Management System (DMS) that cuts out all the busywork and manages complicated compliance for them. The following functions are just a few of the essential features a robust DMS should provide:
Streamline Workflows and Simplify Processes
Working smart is just as important as working hard. If you’re spending time doing critical work that doesn’t justify billing—searching for files, copying files, sending files—it’s time to minimize the busywork and turn these jobs over to DMS. Much work can be automated, and virtual assistants like Zonal OCR free up your time for human collaboration.
Mobility and Anywhere, Anytime Access
The next generation of clients expects plugged-in, “always on” service, and help beyond the core services of taxes and payroll. Jennifer Warawa, VP and General Manager of Sage Accountant Solutions, explains the change: “There’s been a monumental shift in the way that accounting professionals are viewed by their clients. In the past, it was more around tax and compliance. Now, they’re looking for more guidance and ongoing advisory services. Because a business owner works anytime, anywhere, on any device, talking to an accountant once a year doesn’t make sense. It should be an ongoing dialogue, and business owners are starting to demand that.”
Make sure your DMS is mobile friendly, and that any device can become your office with instant access to every document and file, regardless of time or place.
Compliance Woes? Turn to Technology
Accountants work in one of the most highly regulated industries of them all, and it’s a hassle to preserve good standing with regulatory organizations like HIPAA, the SEC, and FINRA. The right DMS can effortlessly help maintain compliance with all major regulations, making compliance worry-free. A compliant DMS should also have transparent and non-intrusive auditing capability, minimizing the time, labor, cost, and business interruptions usually caused by necessary audits.
The complicated world of accounting is changing quickly—don’t get left behind! Streamline your workload and costs and get out from behind your desk by putting technology to work for you. eFileCabinet offers the most secure, robust, and user-friendly document management system available. Talk to one of our business efficiency experts to learn more today.
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