Building a Learning Culture in Your Firm

CPAs are knowledge workers and the more thoroughly they understand how to utilize their technology and optimize the profession’s best practices to service clients, the more effective and profitable their firms will become. Firms that have made the effort to standardize optimum departmental production processes, proactively educate users, and hold them accountable to those firm standards, simply produce more work per person. We have all seen examples of this concept in our own firms within individuals or small teams that have got it figured out and produce significantly more than their peers working on similar engagements. Imagine if the firm could capture that “superstar” efficiency and transfer it to other users. Leading firms have done so by promoting and building a learning culture. With the accelerating rate of technological evolution that is hitting our profession, this learning culture concept has never been more important and may well be the last sustainable competitive advantage for firms to take advantage. Below are a number of considerations in creating such an environment within your firm.

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The Changing Role of IT Personnel in Accounting Firms

Has the IT role within CPA firms finally come full circle? I began the IT portion of my career providing support for IBM XT personal computers that were used by accountants to produce spreadsheets and word processing, while all the “real” data processing was on an IBM 36 and AS400 mini-computer running accounting applications in a central data center. With the expansion of PCs, printers, and the evolution of Novell and Microsoft networks came the need for firms to hire internal IT personnel.

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Xcentric Receives Triple Crown and Is on Top 100 MSSPs

We are thrilled to be honored by CRN with its esteemed 2017 Triple Crown Award. Forty North American solution providers had the necessary revenue, growth and technical expertise to be recognized on three of CRN’s pre-eminent solution provider lists, earning them the Triple Crown Award this year.

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Roman is a Most Recommended Consultant…again!

Congratulations to our Director of Consulting, Roman Kepczyk, for making it on the INSIDE Public Accounting Most Recommended Consultants list for the 14th consecutive year.

Each year INSIDE Public Accounting asks firms from across the nation to name one consultant whom they have used during the past year. Roman was among the top 10 named by participating firms from across the country.

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Do Your Digital Processes Frustrate or Delight?

Paperless” has been a common firm mantra over the past decade with most firms implementing digital solutions throughout each area of their practices. Oftentimes, firms adopted digital versions of their manual processes and believed they had become “paperless” without really analyzing if the process was more efficient. This in turn led many of these owners to discount more efficient solutions or limit their interest in new technologies because they felt they had already “crossed that paperless bridge.” In our Lean Six Sigma consulting with firms, we often find that a surprising number of the processes that firms have implemented include components that are “knee-jerk reactions” to a problem that occurred a long time ago, yet were retained as part of their digital transition. Examples such as manually signing each return (to prove it was the final version they reviewed) or mandating a second partner review on every return are such examples of adding internal time to firm production, which does not really add value from a client perspective. As interactions with clients evolve to become more digital, partners should

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Mandatory Firm Security Briefings

Earlier this year, we met with two members of the IRS Criminal Investigations unit who shared that between three and five accounting practitioners are getting hacked every single day. With all the awareness of data breaches, security threats, and ransomware, one would think accountants would make security a priority, but many believe their firm is either not interesting enough to be a target or they assume that they are not at risk because their IT personnel are “taking care of it.”

The latest Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) and Identity Theft Resource Center findings clearly point out that both of those assumptions are wrong. Accounting entities are increasingly being targeted specifically for their access to tax applications and data which can be quickly converted for financial gain and because many accountants have a somewhat lackadaisical attitude towards data security, making them easier targets for hackers. We have found that firms can hire IT resources to successfully secure their networks, maintain system/workstation patches, and provide antivirus updates, but most neglect their greatest exposure, which is the exposure caused by

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Xcentric Security Stack (Part 2)

*Read Part 1 here.

Physical Security

The next layer of security that protects the Xcentric Cloud exists at the data center and in the data center firewall. Enterprise level firewall devices regulate the flow of data in and out of the network. Advanced physical security measures are also employed to ensure that only verified personal have access to the servers. These features include a single point of entry, around-the-clock security guards, biometric scanners, and closed-circuit cameras. High levels of physical security make it virtually impossible for a criminal to steal a physical copy of a firm’s data from the data center. You can read more about the Xcentric data center here.

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Xcentric Security Stack (Part 1)

Enterprise Multilayered Defense

In the threat-filled environment that CPA firms operate in, what is the best way for a firm to protect its network? It would be great if there was a single easy answer or a single software solution to ensure that firms never have to worry about data security again. Unfortunately, it’s not usually that simple.

Secure data in a secure network is the single desired outcome that everyone can agree on, but the best way to arrive there is not often clear. This can be a complicated question to answer because there are many different ways that networks can be compromised. If every attack was carried out in the exact same way, cyber defense would be easy. Unfortunately, criminals are both motivated, and smart, and are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to break in and take what is not theirs.

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See Who Made It on the 20 Under 40 Superstars List

Congrats to Xcentric’s Chief Operating Officer, Christian James, for being named one of CPA Practice Advisor’s 20 Under 40 Superstars!  This is his 6th time receiving this award (if you include when it was just 40 Under 40).

Honorees are chosen based on nominations from people within the accounting industry.  This honor is given to people who are considered to be “changing the accounting profession through their exemplary leadership, their innovative thinking, their collaborative efforts guaranteed to provide unity to the profession across the generations, and their community outreach which extends the visibility of the profession outside the workplace.”

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