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. (more…)

Collaboration Technology to Improve Your Firm

Communications is a critical component within every business and can either enhance or detract from overall productivity within a firm.  Core communication skills are developed as people grow and most are comfortable with the communication tools they were introduced to and utilize during their career, especially those they use most often on a day to day basis with their peer groups.  The more senior firm members of today’s firms most likely can recall “pink” phone message slips and playing phone tag with voicemail, and the majority have evolved to appreciate the benefits of email for communicating with clients and digital calendars for setting appointments.  At the other end of the spectrum are the next generation of firm personnel that have recently entered into the profession and view those technologies as “old school” and somewhat archaic when compared to the real time communication capabilities of today’s social media and collaboration tools.  Millennials are used to tools such as Skype, Yammer, SocialCast, and FaceTime which provide instant communication (and satisfaction) with minuscule bits of information.  The reality today is that firm personnel need to learn to utilize the best of available collaboration technologies within the context of what is most effective to service clients. (more…)

4 Ways to Ensure a Successful Technology Cutover

I’ve done a good number of technology cutovers during my time at Xcentric and thought it might be helpful to share some things that help them go smoothly.

1. Documentation
Bad documentation is better than no documentation.

  • It’s very helpful to have a spreadsheet with all of the desktops and laptops in the firm.
  • Although not imperative, it is good to have a map layout of the office(s) so we know where people sit and what their roles are.  Many firms have all tax people in one area and audit in another, etc.
  • Licensing is huge!  More organized firms usually have a folder with all licensing information for software and/or a spreadsheet with all of the licensing keys.

2. Proper Expectations
Setting proper expectations with end users about down time

  • We almost always do cutover tasks on Monday, meaning we have the office to ourselves, along with the network admin of the firm.
  • We generally cut off access to email and the system by 5:00pm Friday before cutover and let the staff know they can get back on Tuesday morning.  We also do training Tuesday morning so they know how to get on the new system. (more…)
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