Embracing Technology vs. Just Playing Along | QuickBooks and Beyond

Embracing Technology vs. Just Playing Along| QuickBooks and Beyond

There should be no doubt among accounting professionals that cloud solutions and web-based applications are changing how we all do business. Those avoiding Facebook, Twitter, and even online backup can recognize that the influences of the Internet are everywhere, and whether they like it or not, there’s a certain level of “playing along” that must happen.

Accounting professionals can no longer view Internet-based applications and services as nonessential technology. Rather, they must recognize that their value in the market is largely dependent upon their ability to intelligently apply these technologies to the business. For today’s accountants, embracing technology rather than simply playing along could end up being the difference between success and failure for the firm.

via Embracing Technology vs. Just Playing Along | QuickBooks and Beyond.

4 Rules of Thumb for Considering Cloud Applications in Business | Cooper Mann Consulting Group

4 Rules of Thumb for Considering Cloud Applications in Business

With all the talk of cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service models, businesses are increasingly questioning their continued use of on-premises and “traditional” software implementations. Having heard that cloud applications are cheaper and better than locally installed solutions, some small business owners and IT managers are actively seeking alternatives to their current software selections. In too many cases, however, these business owners or IT managers aren’t looking at the longer term impacts of their decisions, and may be adopting cloud software solutions simply because it seems to be the way things are going these days.

via 4 Rules of Thumb for Considering Cloud Applications in Business | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.

Keeping Up with Expectations: Buyer Satisfaction and the #CustomerExperience | #CooperMann Consulting Group

Keeping Up with Expectations: Buyer Satisfaction and the Customer Experience

There used to be saying in business that the customer is always right and anything or everything should be done to make the customer happy, even if it includes throwing someone under a bus.  On the other hand, some professionals in sales and service would contend that keeping the company mission in mind and fairly representing the company side of things is a better way even if the customer goes away mad.  Realistically, both mentalities have some merit, and it is the challenge of finding balance between making customers happy and doing what is right for the business that makes things difficult.  What many businesses fail to recognize is that they are no longer directly responsible for setting the customer expectation, so they must understand and adapt to the environment and influences impacting the buyer in order offer a customer experience that satisfies.

A customer experience is not simply what happens after someone buys.  The customer experience is composed of the entire life cycle of interactions between the company and the buyer, including any “impressions” the buyer may have experienced through social venues, personal interactions and in media.  Creating and managing the customer experience doesn’t mean simply tracking interactions like sales calls and emails, as with a customer relationship management or sales force solution.  Crafting a customer experience embodies all aspects of the business – from the outside face shown to the public and market to the internal mechanisms that help get work done, the attitudes of the people involved, and the influences of others.

via Keeping Up with Expectations: Buyer Satisfaction and the Customer Experience | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.

A Higher Level of #Customer Relationship Management: Building Closer Customer Relationships #CooperMann Consulting Group

A Higher Level of Customer Relationship Management: Building Closer Customer Relationships

Most businesses recognize the importance of creating a quality experience for customers doing business with them.  The thing that many business owners overlook is how their internal workflows and information management systems serve to either support or impede the delivery of a well-rounded positive customer experience.  Growing businesses must adjust their processes and improve their tools in order to have the necessary information available to workers at various levels of the organization, providing a centralized means for collaboration, data sharing and analysis.   With the right information systems and process support, even small businesses are able to function at exceptionally high levels and provide the consistently high-quality service and customer experience that establishes long-term value in each and every customer relationship.

Businesses which excel at providing very high levels of customer service tend to have a few common characteristics – features of the business that identify it as an organization geared towards growth and success in driving the customer engagement and business value.  Among these characteristics is the recognition of the need to use technology better – leveraging automation to a greater degree to create consistency in work performance, and improving information collection and integration to provide more context and depth to the data. Added efficiency which affords employees time to focus on customer oriented tasks and elevating the customer experience even more is the payback.

via A Higher Level of Customer Relationship Management: Building Closer Customer Relationships | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.

Migrating #Business #Data to the #Cloud #CooperMann Consulting Group

Migrating Business Data to the Cloud

When businesses elect to have their desktop applications hosted in the cloud with a hosting service provider, they are also electing to have their data hosted with the provider.  This point is not always obvious to non-technical users and those unfamiliar with the hosted application concept.  Many business owners have adopted an online or hosted application solution and then realized after-the-fact that their data was no longer present on their computer.  At least, no current data was present, and it was quite a surprise the day they wanted some information but could not get it because they were not connected to the Internet at the time.  An important thing to remember, and the essential factor in measuring risk associated with use of cloud services and hosted solutions, is that adopting online applications in almost any form means that the data associated with (and possibly even data remotely associated with) the application will also migrate to the cloud.

via Migrating Business Data to the Cloud | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.

Client #Experience and Perceived #Value: It’s Looking Cloudy for #Accountants Working with #SmallBusiness #CooperMann Consulting Group

Client Experience and Perceived Value: It’s Looking Cloudy for Accountants Working with Small Business

Every day it seems there is another professional accounting or bookkeeping firm asking questions about now to get new clients for their new “online accounting” business.  Most of these professionals are likely missing the point that their current clients are probably already looking at online accounting solutions and services. Just like in the days when QuickBooks was beginning to take the lead in the market; today’s increasingly popular online accounting solutions are gaining popularity with the direct users, and are bringing those solutions to the professional community (not the other way around).  Professionals who wish to build their businesses on what the market demands would do well to recognize that the push to the cloud coming from their clients is a reflection of past activities, and firms riding the wave are much more likely to see success than those fighting it.

via Client Experience and Perceived Value: It’s Looking Cloudy for Accountants Working with Small Business | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.

Why Accounting in the Cloud? | Cooper Mann Consulting Group

Why Accounting in the Cloud?

Business owners and managers need to keep close control of their financial data.  They need to know where they stand at all times, and having information available to make business decisions is essential.  When the financial information is in the office but the owner isn’t, how can wise decisions be made without access to supporting data?  They can’t, and that’s a problem.  The solution is simple: work in the cloud.

A cloud computing model properly applied to accounting and bookkeeping systems helps businesses of any size keep their financial data and accounting applications in a safe a secure environment, yet accessible to those who need it.  By locating the business applications and data in a protected central location, access to programs and data sets can be provided to authorized users regardless of location or computing platform.  For a small business owner, this means that working from home or on vacation can be as productive as working in the office.  In larger businesses, cloud-based accounting means the accounting department, CFO and financial advisers might all access the same financial records and applications no matter where they work from.

via Why Accounting in the Cloud? | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.

Efficiency and Value with Cloud Accounting | Cooper Mann Consulting Group

Efficiency and Value with Cloud Accounting

For some accounting professionals, the problem is finding a way to provide services that are valuable to the client, and doing it in a way that makes it profitable for the provider.  Outsourced and online accounting models are the answer, employing innovative tools in the practice and with clients: tools and resources necessary to get more informed and run the business better.

With online accounting solutions the firm is able to increase profitability with the range of services offered, often adding clients and work without hiring more personnel.  Online solutions allow professionals and their clients to work from anywhere at any time, providing both with the freedom to focus on core business capabilities (and lifestyle).

via Efficiency and Value with Cloud Accounting | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.

The Productivity Paradox: Accounting for Returns on IT Investments | Cooper Mann Consulting Group

The Productivity Paradox: Accounting for Returns on IT Investments

There has always been somewhat of a struggle between the IT department and “management”, much of the difficulty existing with the need to demonstrate clear returns on investments for IT purchases.  Unfortunately, expenditures in information technology are often the result of short-term views of long-standing problems, applying “solutions” that do not fully address the requirement or which do not deliver the productivity or performance gains expected, particularly in a dynamic and rapidly changing business environment. The assumption is that a wise investment in information technology will result with improved profitability and performance.  Demonstrating this on paper is not always easily accomplished.

There is a great deal of research on the subject of accounting for returns on IT investments.  Some of this research describes “The Productivity Paradox”, referring to early studies on the “relationship between information technology and productivity, and finding an absence of a positive relationship between spending on IT and productivity or profitability”. [1]  Previous to the emergence of cloud computing and widely available remote and mobile technologies (and now possibly even more with the prevalence of available options), businesses invest heavily in IT infrastructure and applications which deliver nominal benefit to the business when measured against the cost of acquisition and implementation.  Heavy IT investments are made with little or no measurable benefit to profitability, even if operational performance improvements are created.  In many cases, the difficulty in “proving” benefit from information technology investments rests with the lack of information relating to impacts in non-operational areas, such as with investors, auditors or analysts.

via The Productivity Paradox: Accounting for Returns on IT Investments | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.

Security and Users: Change is the Only Constant | Cooper Mann Consulting Group

Security and Users: Change is the Only Constant

Managing user accounts and access to business IT assets is challenging, particularly as cloud and social computing models introduce new wrinkles in security and identity management. Information has become “mobile” along with the users accessing it, yet management of user behavior is even more complicated that trying to manage a digital resource.

If you look at the history of security breaches, you’ll find that many of them started with a user making a mistake – like losing a laptop or clicking on a phishing email, downloading bad software, or forgetting to report an employee termination to the IT dept – something which inadvertently created a vulnerability that could be exploited.  It’s tough to stop breaches because there are so many possible ways for them to happen.

If most security breaches start with a user mistake, then IT departments have their hands full because users aren’t static, unchanging objects to monitor and manage.  Users change, sometimes a lot.  It is this constant change which undermines the ability for some IT departments to meet the demand to adequately secure company information systems and data. Now is the time to take control of user security and identity management, creating automation and controls to protect business assets in a constantly evolving environment.

via Security and Users: Change is the Only Constant | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.