2015 Holiday Gift List

All I want for Christmas is…?  Wait, you don’t know?  Here are a few ideas to ready your lists whether giving or receiving.

More and more, I hear stories of people dropping cable and shifting to alternate ways to fill their television screens.  Although many TVs connect to the internet directly, the popularity of content streaming boxes has continued to grow.  At least one of these has made this list each of the past three years, and this year is no different.  Which one works best for you or yours?  Let’s take a quick look at a few similar devices.

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New Blog Series: Age of Distracted Work(ers)

Let’s face it – you are dumber now than you were 5 years ago. I am too.

We continue to watch the news, get drunk on the novelty that is social media, and listen in on the soap opera called politics. This is the culture we work in. The culture you hire in. The culture you are cultivating…unless you rise up above the noise, clutter, and un-actionable information and lead your firm and your life to greener pastures.

I don’t have any silver bullets, but this is the start of a blog series that attempts to offer some insight, guidance, and wisdom (gained through failing) on this subject of ‘Focus’ in this day and age.

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Replacing Your Cloud Access Workstation

Everyone loves getting a new computer. The brightness of the screen and the clean keys on a new keyboard just feel good. With a new laptop, you no longer have to worry about your battery dying when you close the screen to take it home for the night. If you are replacing an old desktop, you no longer have to fear that the strange whirring sound coming from the fan on your desktop is going to start a fire. Everything just seems to move faster.

There are many reasons you may be considering a new purchase:

Replacing a machine that has reached its end of life
New workstations for new hires
Upgrading laptops as an employee incentive
Moving forward to a new operating system

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Our Bozeman Crew Has a New Home!

Our Bozeman staff has been experiencing an exciting transition into their new, larger office space. This lodge-like office was previously the home of an outdoor gear shop…seems suitable for our adventurous Bozeman men and women. There’s still more construction and remodeling to be done, but here’s a sneak peak in the meantime.

Don’t worry, the address has been updated here in case you need to get in touch.

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Best Practices to Keep Your Firm Safe in the Cloud

Liz Gold of AccountingWEB wrote an article highlighting insights from our CEO’s presentation at Thomson Reuter’s 2015 SYNERGY Conference last week. Trey James’ presentation was on Cloud Security Best Practices.

Article Excerpt

“Not surprisingly, one of the common questions James faces is whether there are more breaches today than in year’s prior. His answer is yes, but only because there is now a requirement in most states that if a company gets breached, the incident must be reported. And if it’s reported, a data breach at a company is considered newsworthy, which is why there is more visibility around the issue.”

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Updating Your Home Office Technology

CPAs were amongst the earliest adopters of home offices and remote work, as many would drag home their tax files and audit binders to review at the kitchen table after the kids went to bed. This led to many accountants formalizing their remote work environment by setting up home office workspaces so they could work more efficiently.  The advent of the computers, Internet, and digital files brought this capability to another level, and while many have now adopted cloud and remote access technology, they are often working in the original home office environment that was setup back in the day of paper files.  After almost twenty years of working in a home office I was in some ways “guilty as charged,” and made a conscientious effort to update my workspace to take advantage of current tools and office technology that would enhance my personal productivity.  Below I list five items (beyond your computer), to consider updating to get more productivity out of your time in your home office.

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Technologies and Tools to Improve Collaboration

Collaboration among team members and with clients is a key component in the successful completion of any assurance engagement. Many accountants fall into the habit of using the same communication and information tools that they initially learned when they joined the firm, without further thought about how those tools have evolved to make firm personnel more productive. While many of those in senior management are more comfortable with email or telephone communications and reviewing documents on paper, the production staff coming out of school today favors more instantaneous communication and digital tools that are accessible at their fingertips. This can create a communication gap between the various groups within the practice and hinder collaboration.

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Xcentric Finds Its Niche Delivering Cloud Services to CPAs

Author: John Carey, Sr. Director, Worldwide Channel Programs Strategy, Citrix
This post originally appeared on the Citrix Blogs.

Succeeding in a niche vertical market such as public accounting requires a deep understanding of the business model and a compelling offering.

Xcentric, a Citrix Service Provider and Citrix Solution Advisor based in Alpharetta, Georgia, provides both — as demonstrated by its impressive, double-digit growth over the past several years.

“Providing technology solutions to CPA firms is challenging,” said Roy Keely, Vice President of Market Strategy for the 80-person company.

“Public accounting has a complicated workflow and is subject to tax laws that are constantly changing. A typical company might use 60 different applications that require specialized backends and database servers. A commoditized approach isn’t the answer.”

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Tax Season, Velocity, and Lucille Ball

Most of us can recall the famous “I Love Lucy” candy factory skit where Lucille Ball is working on a conveyer belt wrapping chocolates as the speed of the conveyer belt steadily increases to the point of chaos, which is reminiscent of what happens in many accounting firms towards the end of busy season.  Looking forward to next tax season, there are a number of proven methods to help manage and control the velocity of our “tax return conveyer belt” so that it better aligns our firm’s ability to process returns successfully.  This article will discuss Lean Six Sigma principals applied to tax production, including the Law of Velocity, which points out that firms sometimes need to slow down their production to actually improve productivity and quality.  MIT Professor John Little devised the Law of Velocity which states that the velocity of any process is inversely proportional to the amount of work in process (WIP) completed during a specific period of time, meaning if you cram too much work in WIP, you actually decrease productivity. 

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