How to “Cloud Accounting” for Tax: Phase 1 Assessment

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Before you start on your change management plan, you have already identified at least one key area for improvement. Awesome! Now how do you go about assessing that inefficiency and making an informed decision on how to fix it?

First: Start with process. Always.

A few months ago, I wrote a piece directly about process improvement. Please take a minute to read it here.

The main steps outlined in this article are as follows:

  1. Identify an inefficient process. Hooray! You have already done this. Now get cracking on the rest of the steps. 
  2. Document the process. Write a narrative of the process, including the time it takes for each step, and then flowchart it. I use LucidChart and Microsoft Vizio for process maps. It is amazing how much easier it is to identify redundancies in a process when you see it visually. 
  3. Identify areas of improvement. Once you can see the process mapped out, it’s easier to identify areas of improvement. 
  4. Document the updated process. Once you decide which piece of the process needs to be fixed, fix it. Find a solution that works for all of the people involved. Try and eliminate all manual steps before you consider any additional technology. 
  5. Communicate the changes. After you document the new process, you need to tell everyone involved how the new flow of the process will go. This should all align directly to your change management plan. 
  6. Train the key people on the new process. This should also directly align to the training plan that you set out in your change management plan. 

Second: Asses the need for a new technology tool in addition to a new process.

I also recently wrote a piece about assessing technology tools. It is imperative to do this right so you are not constantly switching your technology stack. Take a minute to refresh yourself here. I also included a downloadable spreadsheet to help with your assessment of new technologies. Here it is for download.

The main steps outlined in this article are as follows:

  1. Gather requirements. First and foremost, I document all the requirements for the system. I document these on an ongoing basis with every team member that is affected by the technology. 
  2. Research the alternatives. Make a list of every program that does what you need. 
  3. Review. I use a trio of factors to review: 
  • Does it meet all of my requirements? 
  • Are there sexy features that will save time and make it worth the extra price? Because, let’s be real, all of those sexy features are expensive. 
  • Can I afford it? 
  • Is it worth the pain to switch to a new technology? 
  1. Implement new technology! As always, consider the three pillars of change management: communication, sponsorship, and training. Ensure that all affected parties know what is happening, the timeline for the transition, when they will be trained, and general expectations around the transition. Keep lines of communication open, including prescheduled check-in meetings. Make sure all firm leadership are supportive of the change and you have identified an Internal Sponsor to manage the change communication and training. 

Everything you will do to improve an inefficient process should be documented in your change management plan. Refer to last week’s How to “Cloud Accounting” for Tax: The Template for Change Management to review the plan document and how to effectively use it.

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Liz Mason
Liz Mason is a serial entrepreneur, a giant nerd, and an involved accounting vanguard. She is the Founder of High Rock Accounting, Rebel Rock Accounting, TheDepartment.Tax, and a few other related brands. Liz speaks on a national stage, guests stars on podcasts, publishes a YouTube show (The Hot Accounts), and writes frequently. To further her passion for the advancement of the accounting profession, Liz currently serves as a Xero National Ambassador and as the Content Strategist for Tax Practice News. Liz started her career in tax at Grant Thornton (at 20) and automated a portion of her job landing her in the national tax practice. She spent a decade in large public accounting firms working on highly technical tax consulting before branching off on her own. Liz utilizes her creativity and passion at her company to uproot traditional practices and replace them with innovative concepts. She finds joy in efficient technology and her core belief is that everyone and everything can continuously improve (she says "be better" too often). When Liz isn't planning world domination in accounting, she is a die-hard skier, down for any adventure, plays the ukulele, reads everything, and has a good sense of humor. If you're looking for her, you can find her traveling the world and enjoying new food and cultures with her husband and young son. Follow Liz and High Rock Accounting on Twitter at @LizzyNorMa and @HighRockCPAs.