Here you are again, accountants. It’s tax season.
While it’s only four months out of the year, this is the time when droves of accountants report struggling with work-life balance. Early mornings, late nights, concerned clients — with loads of time-consuming tasks, it can be hard to call it a day and then wake up again to do it all again.
Luckily, advances in accounting information technology (IT) have opened new doors for time savings, convenience, and better productivity. These advances allow accountants to shift their focus toward more strategy and consulting, and get a better night’s sleep from now until April 15th.
So what should accountants be doing now to make sure their IT systems are working swimmingly during the busiest time of the year? Here’s our checklist of IT tools that should be in peak performance this winter and spring.
When it comes to submitting, filing, emailing and all the other activities you do everyday online, speed is of the essence. Now’s a great time to check with your internet provider and see if your plan includes the speed you need. And believe it or not, your hardware can play a part in connection speeds, too. Old routers, network switched, wireless access points — they can all bottleneck your data flow and move files around slower than you need. As your processing speeds and RAM are increased, your software performance will also improve.
Get in touch with your IT provider to get recommendations on business-class hardware that can save you time and offer higher levels of performance than home models.
In today’s world of accounting IT, many manual tasks that once took hours are now able to be handled by very smart programs and robots. There are automations to send email replies, pay invoices, process payroll — leaving you with more time to strategize and build relationships with clients. So now’s a good time to inventory how you spend your hours in a day. How much time is spent on tasks that can be streamlined (usually with more success and less human error)?
The 2-3 hours you spend with your IT provider onboarding a new system now could be well worth the many hours you’ll save over the next few months.
Traditional accounting systems that involve a lot of paperwork – large ledgers, entry records, etc. — can have a high risk of theft or damage. Automated accounting systems can help keep your desk clean and ensure that confidential data is organized and stored securely. But remember, security isn’t set-it-and-forget-it in today’s digital world. Practicing good password hygiene, implementing a secure VPN, and using encryption are all important when it comes to accessing and sharing your clients’ personal and private data.
Cloud computing can empower you to do your job in new and flexible ways. You can perform accounting tasks from any location on demand (hello, weekend pool break), and deliver financial information and reports to your clients securely through the cloud. Data stored on a managed cloud can also be backed-up, restored, and audited easier than files solely stored on a hard drive.
If you haven’t already, ask your IT provider about the best cloud solution for your storage, access, and security needs in the months ahead.
Hopping on the phone with government agencies and clients is one thing. Organizing your conversations, adding notes, offering video conferencing and working from anywhere — that’s another. If you’re dealing with dropped calls, frustrated clients, or miscommunications, an updated voice solution might be in the cards for tax season. You can give your staff the ability to tune in with their own devices from anywhere, and securely message each other about deadlines, follow ups…the works.
Use Your Tax Season IT Tools
We know that an accounting firm’s ability to maintain an edge depends on the quality of the tools it uses. And while technology can be a crunch-time blessing, it can also be a liability if it’s not set up and managed properly. Risk management, efficiency and compliance are just a few of the issues to take into account when implementing and utilizing IT systems for your firm.
If you’re in need of an IT partner to help you with implementing, auditing or managing your solutions this tax season, give us a call. We know you’re busy, and managing businesses’ technology around the clock is what we do best.