IT Trends Impacting Firms

An important part of managing today’s CPA firm is being aware of key trends that should to be taken into account when planning for the future and designing the firm’s strategic plan and budgets to accommodate the firm’s evolution.  Below we list eight IT Trends that are impacting the way firms work and interact with their clients, which should be taken into account when planning for the years ahead.

Cloud Apps/Hybridization

The level of complexity in today’s IT infrastructure continues to increase and evolve at a faster pace than can the abilities of most internal IT personnel.  The majority of firms have gone to outsourcing all “one shot” implementations to external expertise, and that evolution continues with firms outsourcing both the installation and the hardware support to “Cloud” providers. Analyzing the internal costs for equipment, licensing, installation and ongoing maintenance against a monthly fee has pushed many firms to move applications such as their Exchange/Outlook to hosted providers as well as critical applications such as portals and document management. When the features and overall cost of a cloud application

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A Tale of Two Clouds: Commodity Cloud vs. Service Centered Cloud

The cloud is obviously growing in popularity, and with this comes the variety of shapes and sizes that it can be packaged into. One of the lowest common denominators to look at when analyzing your cloud options is whether or not they are a product or a service company. Every IT firm under the sun likes to call their services/products ‘solutions’…so you have to do some translation on what it is you are actually buying at the end of the day.  

Thus, a way I like to frame it up is: is their core offering a commodity?

How do you know if it’s a commodity? If at the end of the day you are buying storage, computer, and power (and only these items), then it’s a commodity focused cloud. If you are buying a seat or an experience in conjunction with those items, then it’s likely a service centered cloud.

What’s better…a hammer or a screwdriver? It depends on the objective. Both can be right and useful given the situation. For many accounting firms, the cloud is

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IT Governance Series: Part I Download Available

Part I of the IT Governance series gives readers a detailed overview of IT Governance and how it relates to CPA firms like yours.  This white paper also focuses specifically on a framework called CoBiT.

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While the concept of IT Governance has been around since the early 1990’s, the range of definitions attached to this term, along with the responsibilities and outcomes related to governance, are as wide ranging as the definitions themselves.  The definition most often used by Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), and the one we will use in this guide, is the one from the IT Governance Institute (, which defines IT Governance as “a structure of relationships and processes to direct and control the enterprise in order to achieve the enterprise’s goals by adding value while balancing risk versus return over IT and its processes.”

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Sit Down with Chuck Caldwell Video

Chuck’s firm has been in the Xcentric Cloud since 2009. Before the Cloud, they had 1 full-time IT director for a 40-person firm. They were having several issues with the management of their technology. After moving to the Cloud, Chuck says he has peace of mind knowing that Xcentric has the IT side under control, allowing him to focus on CPA tasks.

“I’m confident that our technology is in the right hands and going in the right direction that I think it should go.”

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CRN Announces Xcentric on Next-Gen 250 List

CRN just came out with their annual Next-Gen 250 list.


This list honors up-and-coming technology solution providers who have run their businesses in unique ways to meet market demands for emerging technologies, including managed services, virtualization, and cloud computing.  These solution providers are recognized by CRN as today’s trailblazers and tomorrow’s leaders.

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A Tale of Two Clouds: Local Cloud vs. Hyper Specialized Cloud

Accounting firms often look to other local businesses to meet the variety of needs they have on any given day. While it makes sense to do this, does it make sense when it comes to an accounting firm’s technology needs? Given that 95%+ of Xcentric’s revenue is not ‘local’ you likely know what flavor Koolaid I am drinking here, but nonetheless, I want to share some thoughts that stem from my history of working with firms for almost a decade (in cloud years thats like 50).

*HS = hyper specialized

Your Applications

As you know, accountants’ worlds go round in a large part due to the applications they use.

Local Cloud

Wide breadth of experience, but likely very shallow knowledge of accounting/vertical apps. This means you will have more hand-holding when it comes to communicating what each app does and how it functions.
Application Updates: Every IT provider is used to running updates on some applications some of the time…but not nearly to the degree that our accounting apps need to be updated. This likely means the accounting firm is running updates on the server(s)

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First-Line Boss In a CPA Firm

By: Rita Keller

Who is really the first-line boss in your CPA firm?

Unless you are an absolute solo (sole proprietor, no employees), then I hope you have a manager, and in most firms you have many who are responsible for the growth and well-being of your employees.

In many firms, the firm administrator plays this key role on the “well-being” side, and your audit and tax managers fill the role on the “growth” topic. If you are a partner in a CPA firm, you often act as the “first-line boss.”

I continually find managers (the people with the title manager) inside CPA firms who do not manage. Sure, they manage the work fairly well, but they really don’t know how to manage and inspire people BECAUSE the owners of the firm have not spent enough money on educating them about management.

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Sit Down with Ron Bracewell Video

In 2009, Ron’s firm had 1 full-time Network Administrator that was nearing retirement. They decided that that was a good time to transition to the Cloud. He says the move enhanced their capabilities and immediately saved costs.

“I would say it’s a good long-term strategic move. I would say it’s the direction you should go in.”

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Tools For The Everyday Auditor

Technology has always had a significant impact on audit production and new evolutions of equipment have made auditors more productive when working in the office or the field. This month, we look at the latest gyrations of hardware that have made or are making inroads into the audit scene and optimizing the way we work.


Today’s “workhorse” laptop is a 15.6-inch unit that has a full ten-key built into the keyboard. Most firms are still buying business models from Dell, HP, and Lenovo. Firms generally want faster i5 or i7 processors and 8 Gb of RAM to handle the extra applications auditors are loading on their third screen when they are in the office. Windows 8.1 and touch screens are just now making inroads into small and medium-sized firms, while larger firms seem to be holding onto Windows 7 (since most auditing applications have not been modified for touch). With more applications moving to the cloud, the need for local hard drive storage has decreased, paving the way to firms transitioning to the faster Solid State Drives, which pay for

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