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10 Steps to a Digital Practice in the Cloud, 2nd Edition

Book Description

Improve the quality, efficiency, and profitability of the services you offer your clients.

In today's marketplace, leveraging technology and cloud-based solutions to automate data processing and other low-value work is essential to running an efficient and profitable CPA practice. Given the pace of change, it’s also too easy to feel overwhelmed by the abundance of choices and make bad decisions that cost you time and money. 10 Steps to a Digital Practice in the Cloud will help you clear a path for your firm’s success.

This popular how-to guide is your roadmap to building your successful practice in the cloud in just 10 steps. You’ll get practical, comprehensive information with step-by-step instructions, covering areas such as:

  • Infrastructure
  • Scanning Solutions
  • Document Management
  • Client Portals
  • Workflow Management
  • Cloud-based Client Accounting Systems
  • Security
  • Disaster Recovery
  • And more!

Authors John Higgins and Bryan Smith guide you through each step, helping you implement best practices in each area, select the right solutions for your firm, and better serve your clients. They also include several real-world CPA firm case studies to illustrate how other firms have saved time and money while making their firms run more efficiently by moving to a digital practice model.

This second edition is updated to reflect the current state of the market and the technology solutions available for cloud-based server infrastructure, personal computers and software, mobile computing, scanning, client portals, document management, workflow, cloud accounting and more. Use it to develop your technology plan and make a valuable investment in your firm’s future.

Table of Contents

  1. Chapter 1: The Nature of the Digital Practice Model and the Benefits to You and Your Firm
    1. The Digital Practice Value Proposition
    2. Key Challenges for Today’s CPA Firm and Technology’s Role
      1. Staffing
      2. Regulation
      3. Firm Succession
      4. Technology
    3. Key Trends in CPA Technology
      1. Cloud Computing (aka SaaS)
      2. Mobile Computing
      3. Client Portals
      4. Extended Workflows
    4. Benefits of the Digital Practice Model
      1. Quality of Client Service
      2. Stronger Client Relationships
      3. Do More With Less Effort
      4. Enhance the Overall Value of Your Firm
  2. Chapter 2: The 10 Steps to a Digital Practice
    1. Strategic View of IT Model
      1. Infrastructure
      2. Software Applications
      3. Business Processes
      4. Staff and Clients
      5. The 10 Steps
  3. Chapter 3: Infrastructure
    1. Infrastructure Defined
    2. Traditional On-Premise Model
    3. Managed Service Model
    4. Data Center Hosting Model aka IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)
    5. SaaS Model
    6. Security in the Cloud
  4. Chapter 4: Broadband
    1. Broadband Defined
    2. Measuring Bandwidth
    3. Broadband Requirements
      1. Data Communication Service
      2. Modem
      3. Router
      4. Wireless Access Point
      5. Firewall
    4. Wired Versus Wireless
    5. Wired Service Options
      1. DSL (Digital Subscriber Line)
      2. Tier 1–5 (T1, T2, T3, T4, and T5)
      3. Cable
      4. Fiber Optic
    6. Wireless Service Options
      1. Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity)
      2. Cellular (3G, 4G)
      3. WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access)
      4. Satellite
    7. How to Determine What You Need
      1. The Number of Users Working in Your Office
      2. Number and Type of Cloud Applications
      3. Size and Type of Data Transmitted
      4. Upload Versus Download Speed
      5. Thick Client Versus Thin Client
      6. Phone System
    8. Where to Get Your Broadband
      1. Telephone Company
      2. Cable
      3. Cellular
      4. Regional
    9. Recommendations
      1. Contact Vendors
      2. Main Communications Network
      3. Back-up Communications Network
    10. Two Alternative Approaches
    11. Broadband to Go
    12. Hotspots
  5. Chapter 5: The CPA Technology Toolkit
    1. Desktop Computer Versus Laptop
    2. Recommended Desktop and Laptop Configuration
    3. Multiple Monitors
    4. Selecting Monitors and Accessories
    5. Touch Screen Monitors
    6. Windows® 7
    7. Windows® 8
    8. Microsoft® Office
    9. Microsoft Office From the Cloud
    10. Google Apps™
    11. Adobe® Acrobat®
    12. Web Conferencing System
    13. Smartphones and Tablets
    14. Smartphones
    15. Picking Your Platform and Device
    16. Android™
    17. Apple iOS
    18. Windows
  6. Chapter 6: Scanning Solutions
    1. Centralized Versus Distributed Scanning
    2. Alternative Scanning Devices
    3. Scanner Features
    4. Advanced Document Processing Software for Tax Preparation
    5. Workflow Integration
      1. Front End Scanning
      2. Mid-Point Scanning
      3. Back End Scanning
  7. Chapter 7: Document and File Management Systems
    1. Metadata 101
    2. Capture
    3. Process
    4. Store
    5. Disseminate
    6. The Big Picture
    7. DMS Implementation Best Practices
  8. Chapter 8: Trial Balance Working Paper Software
    1. Features Review
      1. Trial Balance
      2. Journal Entries
      3. Financial Statements
      4. Working Paper Binder
      5. Engagement Management
      6. Review Notes
      7. Tax Software Bridge
      8. Accounting Software Bridge
    2. Solutions Overview
  9. Chapter 9: Client Portals—Gateway to the Future
    1. Security
    2. Task Automation
    3. Extended Workflows
    4. Innovative Services
    5. Developing Your Portal Strategy
      1. Stage 1: Document and File Exchange
      2. Stage 2: Workflow Integration
      3. Stage 3: Aggregation and Single Sign-on
      4. Stage 4: Third Party Cloud Applications
    6. Portal Deployment Checklist
  10. Chapter 10: Workflow Software
    1. Process Mapping
    2. Scheduling and Task Assignment
    3. Dynamic Rules
    4. Document and File Binder
    5. Review Note Tracking
    6. Electronic Forms, Checklists, and Routing Sheets
    7. E-mail Alerts
    8. Management Reports
  11. Chapter 11: Cloud-Based Client Accounting System
    1. It Is Time for a Change
    2. Inefficiencies With the Traditional Client Accounting Model
    3. Much Improved Service With the Cloud Accounting Model
    4. The Opportunity
    5. The Economic Model
  12. Chapter 12: Security and Disaster Recovery
    1. Data Security Strategies
      1. Data Encryption
      2. Password Policy
      3. Cloud Computing
      4. Secure Data Transmission
      5. Antivirus Software
      6. Firewalls
      7. Mobile Computing Security
      8. Data Backup
    2. Disaster Recovery Protection
  13. Chapter 13: Developing and Implementing Your Technology Plan
    1. What Do I Do Now?
    2. How Do I Approach the Process?
      1. Strategy
      2. Education
      3. Analysis
      4. Execution
      5. Assessment
  14. Chapter 14: Case Studies
    1. Clark Nuber P.S.: Leveraging Confirmation Software to Streamline the Audit Process
    2. Juravel & Company, LLC: Client Portals
    3. Krueger & Associates, P.A.: Leveraging a Cloud-Based Client Accounting Solution and Other Portal Applications
    4. Schlabig & Associates Ltd.: Outsourcing IT Infrastructure to a Data Center Hosting Service
  15. Appendix A: Sample Tax Services Process Review
  16. Appendix B: Glossary
  17. Appendix C: Resource Center
  18. Appendix D: AICPA SOC References and Resources
  19. Appendix E: Reporting on Controls at a Cloud Computing Service Organization