How Good Is Your Auditor’s Technology?

Small companies should consider whether their accounting firms use up-to-date tools, train staff thoroughly, and have a strategic technology plan.

Smaller companies would do well to investigate the technological proficiency of accounting firms they consider hiring, judging by the results of recent research.

In a survey by Bay Street Group and Capstone Marketing, 112 CPA firms rated themselves on a 10-point scale as to how well they achieve their overall objectives (not just technological ones). The top quintile of respondents were labeled “leaders” and the bottom quintile “laggards.”

Leaders were twice as likely as laggards to agree with the statement, “We know the current status of all jobs under way at the firm”; 5 times more likely to be early adopters of new technology; 8 times likelier to provide thorough and continuous technology training to staff; and 17 times more likely to make and follow a strategic technology plan.

“This stuff is not rocket science — of course it’s important to train your staff and have a plan,” says Rick Telberg, CEO of Bay Street Group, which provides research, marketing, communications, and publishing services for accounting firms. But the answer is not just throwing a lot of money at the shortcomings, he adds. With regard to training, for instance, even learning to use more Microsoft Office features, for example, can produce an uptick in employee productivity.

Still, most CPA firms, 69%, are indeed planning to spend more on technology in the next 6 to 18 months, according to the research results. “There was a two-year period after the economy’s crash when everything stopped, and now we’re coming to the end of some hardware and software cycles,” notes Telborg.

In particular, the use of cloud technologies is expected to leap. Whereas in a similar survey a year ago only 11% of respondents anticipated spending on cloud services in the short term, this year 28% said so.

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