Tax Haiku, 2018 Edition

Kelly Phillips Erb, who covers tax for Forbes, and is the majordomo at www.taxgirl.com is running her annual #TaxHaiku contest.  (Many of you, the gentle readers of this blog have seen some of my previous year entries here and here).  (Who knew that people who could do #taxes could also write poems?  I suppose it’s the torture our souls have endured during the long, long winters in front of monitors.)

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The World Continues to Evolve. Will You?

I’ve been part of the CPA profession since I graduated from the University of Tennessee and joined one of the “Big Six” accounting firms in 1992.  I started during the waning days of working papers which were made of paper, and had the privilege of carrying a 40 pound Compaq “luggable” transportable PC as my first work computer shortly thereafter – so I’ve been around a while.  During the last 25 years, we’ve transitioned from paper to computer-based documentation, and have also seen the rise of the internet.  The changes we’ve seen – the rise and fall of Yahoo, Amazon’s domination and disruption of everything, and the rise of smart phones – are nothing short of breathtaking.  When viewed in the context of how we worked 40 years ago, it’s important to remember they didn’t change overnight – it took decades for things to shift to the new paradigm.

A two-sided

The late Roy Amara, a respected researcher, scientist, and futurist who led The Institute for the Future during the 1970’s and 1980’s, is credited with creating “Amara’s Law”.  His maxim states, “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.” If you think about the tools we use in our offices every day, almost none of the tools we used forty years ago are used today.  Gone are the paper rolodex cards, typewriters, 10-key adding machines, workpaper binders, 5-column paper, phone books, and colored pencils from the past, replaced by multiple monitors, printers, e-mail, and software like ProSystem fx Engagement.  An accountant from 1978 who visited a cloud-based accounting firm without a physical office wouldn’t recognize what he or she saw.  They would be shocked how simple tasks like payroll have been automated and centralized into computer data centers operated by ADP, Paychex, and Intuit which are accessed using the internet– they would be completely lost in today’s world.

We are all learning about emerging technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and process automation.  While most of these technologies are platforms for software developers instead of applications you can use to solve a specific business problem.  As I write this in the spring of 2018, there aren’t many ways I can utilize these technologies today – but I believe that they will impact how we work in the future in ways we can’t imagine.

It’s important to stay current on technology, but that doesn’t mean that you have to know everything about it – or as my friend Gary Boomer often says, “you don’t have to know how the movement mechanism in a wristwatch works in order to tell what time it is.”  The time to change your work processes is when it makes financial and operational sense to do so, not when “the cool kids” say it’s OK.  Keep up with your competitors and don’t get behind on technology– because there are a lot of dinosaurs with dusty offices full of paper who upon retirement will realize smaller gains when selling their practice because they didn’t keep up.

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5th Annual Accounting Firm Ops and Tech Survey Awards Announced

April 05, 2018, Hutchinson KS and Minneapolis, MN – Randy Johnston, CEO, Network Management Group, Inc. and Dr. Leslie Garrett, CEO of Insight Research Group are pleased to announce the winners of the 5th Annual Accounting Firm Operations and Technology (AFOT) Survey Awards. Survey respondents identify the software used in their accounting firm that has the greatest impact on their firm in three separate categories: Profitability, Risk Mitigation and Productivity.  The 5th Annual AFOT Survey results book will be released in May 2018.  Respondents selected award-winners in each category from a list of 87 accounting firm software products.

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Cloud Accounting User Counts

I’ve been tracking the user counts of cloud accounting tools for microbusinesses from publically available sources for about seven years now.  My latest cloud accounting user counts appear below.  Note that Intacct probably shouldn’t be in this list (especially since we also didn’t include other mid-market apps like Oracle NetSuite, as they’re both a little “up market” for most users of this.  As you know, FreshBooks and Wave are private, and don’t have to report anything publically, and with Kashoo doing more as a bookkeeping service instead of as a software company, the user counts there (which were hard to get anyway) are a little less relevant here.  We expect to have new data from Intuit, Xero, and Sage sometime in late April/early May.

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P.S. Tipsters who have good public (non-confidential) data sources for user counts (e.g. court filings, press releases, etc.) which are more detailed or more current than this (as I write this on March 27, 2018), I share Starbucks cards with those who point new things out – I’m @BFTCPA on twitter.

P.P.S. If any software publishers want to be included in this list on a going forward basis (or want any of the analysis which goes along with this), including some work on cloud vs. on premises for user counts, reach out to me and we can discuss.

Zoho: The Most Interesting Company You’ve Never Heard Of

I was fortunate to be invited to attend an analysts conference for Zoho Corporation.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Zoho, they have about 60 different SaaS applications for all aspects of running a business, including e-mail, calendar, CRM, accounting, reports, HR, e-mail marketing, help desk, meetings, and many, many more.  The apps are sold individually, in four bundles (CRM Plus, Workplace, Finance Plus, and IT Management), or in a mega-bundle called Zoho One.  I’ve been using Zoho One for a couple of months, and it’s been pretty amazing.  Some of the things I’ve done with it include:

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A CPA’s Guide to Address Spectre and Meltdown

There were two major security vulnerabilities announced in January of this year: Spectre and Meltdown.  Both affected, for all intents and purposes, every computer which has been sold in the US in the last 15 years.  Read more:

Original Article

Follow-up Article

The Journey from Premise to Hosted to Cloud: A CPAs Travel Guide

I was pleased to write a white paper with Randy Johnston a couple of years ago for CPA.com called “The Journey from Premise to Hosted to Cloud: A CPAs Travel Guide“, which details the transition from having your IT hardware on site to using a hosting company like Abacus Next, and then the eventual move to browser-based SaaS applications.

While I wrote this a couple of years ago, it has held up pretty well, despite the rapidly changing IT environment.  You can download it from the CPA Firm Software site’s page on Cloud Computing 

Cryptocurrencies: What Accountants Need to Know

I wrote an article for AccountingWeb on Cryptocurrencies which was featured on their site for some time.  Click here to access the article.

What Accountants Need to Know About GDPR

pexels-photo-408503.jpegI recently wrote a piece on the European Union’s General Data Protection Regime (GDPR) for AccountingWeb.com.  A link to that piece is here.

Travel Hacks for Road Warriors

Most of the readers of this blog know that I do over 100,000 air miles a year, all in the US/Canada.  After 1.5 million air miles, these are my favorite travel tips – I hope they make your business travel better (or if you’re a glass half empty type, I hope they make travel suck less).

  1. Always carry $200+ in cash when you are on the road – because bad things happen, and cash can fix it quickly in almost any situation. Also because the bellmen, servers, drivers, and others who wait on you have hard jobs and get treated like crap all of the time – so throw a $20 at someone who deserves it at least once a month ($240/yr)- it’s a great way to pay it forward and make someone’s day suck a little less.
  2. Be very nice to all of the people at your home airport -know their names, bring them brownies, cookies, and other nice things around the holidays. They don’t make much money, and they can make stuff happen for you when travel gets bad. Ask about the counter people’s families and know their kids names – it will pay off in spades.  Buy the people who clean the airport coffee from time to time, because it’s the right thing to do.
  3. If you’re elite with an airline, use those “attaboy” certificates for outstanding service strategically. Give them out to people at your home airport, and do it publically – this makes me very popular at my home airport.
  4. If you have to fly 50-seat regional jets on Delta, they can’t take the electronic drink tickets – so it’s open bar, if you have to fly on one of those for over an hour and don’t have Comfort+.  (JSYK, Woodford is the best bourbon available on Delta – sorry, Jack)
  5. Electronic Expense Reporting
    • If your company uses Concur, Zoho, or other web-based expense reporting software, get the app – it’s essential, and you can take pics of your receipts as you incur the expenses
    • Manila envelopes for receipts – scan them with your Concur app when you incur them, and get them into the expense report system. Keep the paper – you may need it to get reimbursed if you lose/drop your phone or if the pic is blurry.
    • If you don’t already have a web-based expense reporting app, 1Tap receipts from Receipt Bank is a great tool for organizing your receipts.  You can take pics of them, tag/organize them with, and you can then output them as a PDF file.  Bonus: The data is available as a PDF or as a CSV file.
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