Know what you don’t know
Consider document management — a.k.a. paperless or less-pa-per technologies. Public and private
accountants who understand the
“why” behind document management are the ones you want to work
with most. They know it no longer
takes more than a few clicks to find
a document, while integration with
workflow is key to a functioning, efficient accounting system.
After speaking to hundreds of
CPAs, accountants, chief financial
officers and internal auditors, I’ve
observed two distinct sets of people: those who really “get it” and
those who don’t.
Most of the time, I think it’s in an
accountant’s DNA to be inquisitive;
this group wants to discover something new or different. Yet there is
always a careful, cautious skepticism, which is usually resolved by a
discussion and a visual demonstration about how document management can help a client.
I have an associate who recently
spoke to a group of accountants
about improving client retention
through technology. The day prior
to his talk, the group of 50 members
who united for the state group’s an-
nual meeting spent the day discuss-
ing technology, with presentations
from the organization’s members.
My friend laughed at first, and then
was sort of surprised, at the lack of
knowledge this group had about
some very basic processes.
Believe it or not, e-filing was the
hottest technology discussed. My
friend had to burn the midnight
oil to make his presentation a bit
more basic, but did manage in the
end to encourage the group to read
as much as possible and begin using some of the more advanced accounting technologies.
His story isn’t too dissimilar from
what I see and hear when I travel
and meet accountants. Most anyone
BY KIMBERLY HOGAN
Members of the accounting profession and providers who serve the profes-
sion share something in common: “value.” Practitioners and solution provid-
ers want the very best for their customers and clients, often pushing each
other to use and develop technologies and processes that breed excellence.
Document management at the grassroots level
who thinks e-filing is a hot technology probably wants to continue doing paper-based tax returns. Yet all
of us suffer from what I refer to as an
awareness issue — we do not think
about, or want to learn, something
new until we are forced to do so.
Document management is just
like that. If you serve clients or employees who are perfectly happy
with your services just the way they
are, why change?
Here are a few of the questions I
am often asked about the topic:
1. Will the technology work with
the system I already own? What
the person is really asking about is
integration. By far, this is the No. 1
question I get. After all, if your firm
has made a substantial investment
in a certain kind of system, you
don’t want to buy something new.
I can practically see the CPA brain
working overtime. It is busy mentally calculating how many more
hours need to be billed in order to
rationalize buying a new module or
enduring custom programming to
make something fit.
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Most major accounting systems
either come with a document management module, or can be retrofit-ted as needed. However, those who
ask this question don’t know that!
It’s up to the providers to educate
customers on the latest and greatest
technology — yet also realize that
cost is a huge selling point.
2. How does document management work in the cloud? I’m
very impressed when someone
asks me about cloud computing.
CPAs and accountants who attend
many of the trade shows hosted
by the American Institute of CPAs
or through state CPA societies are
very aware of Software-as-a-Ser-vice, thanks to experts who deliver
presentations on the topic.
I’m not a cloud expert, but once
I explain how the cloud works, I see
a light go off in the person’s head
— something I find exciting and
satisfying, because I’ve now helped
someone learn about the advantages of letting someone else manage
security, storage, encryption and
other components of document
3. How easy are the technologies
to use? Plug-and-play solutions are
the key to answering this question.
Anyone who admits that they don’t
want to learn much about back-of-fice technology really does not want
to do more than plug in something
and let it play.
Most document management
systems are easy to use, but they also
require user input before reaching
the point of seamless activity. You
have to teach them how to behave
before they know how to perform.
This concept really isn’t so foreign
to most CPAs and accountants. After all, they’ve been doing this for
years with tax software.
More than anything else, I believe
providers to the accounting profession have an important responsibility to make their customers smarter
through education. Everyone needs
to know what they don’t know. AT
Our business is taking
care of your business.
Kimberly Hogan is business
development manager at Fujitsu
Computer Products of America.
Reach her at (949) 551-5601 or
email@example.com, or follow
her on Twitter at @ScanSnapKim.