How Utilizing Cloud Technologies Helps Put Family First
Have you ever been invited to an important family function in the middle of tax season? Was this function either in another state or another country? This exact situation happened to me last tax season. I received an invitation to my niece’s First Communion in Monterrey on the first weekend of April and she wanted my wife to be her godmother. Of course, we were going to go, but immediately I started to stress out about the work that had to be done. How will I finish the tax returns? How will I deliver them to the clients? How will I get the 8879s signed?
This is a common theme that faces many firms in this industry. It applies to long established firms as well as brand new firms. The key challenges that so many firms face are:
- Trying to ensure a work life balance to be able to enjoy life but deliver for your clients
- Accessing workpapers from outside the office
- Finding and retaining top talent
The start of the answer to all of these challenges? Cloud Adoption.
Balancing work with life is very important to me because it is something that I hold dear to my heart. My father would work extra shifts at the brewery sometimes but always found time to be there and coach our extracurricular activities. This is something that I wanted to be able to do for my family. One of the values that I tell my clients and my staff is that family always comes first. We all understand that this industry requires long hours, especially during tax season, but something that I realized was that we do not need to be tied to our offices to do it. I was able to fly down with my family to Monterrey and spend a week there. Using cloud-based applications like Xero and Auto Entry allowed me to prepare the financials for my Schedule C clients and then input everything into my hosted tax software. I worked during the day while everyone was running around planning and doing last minute items and still enjoyed the afternoons and evenings with family. It’s healthy to take complete breaks from work, but being able to compromise like this when you have to is an incredible feeling.
The second challenge revolves around accessing workpapers. My first job in accounting was with a small CPA firm based out of Houston, TX. It was a great firm and they had what I thought was the best filing system ever. We had files all sorted by client code and name. I was asked by the senior partner one day to find a basis worksheet that was about 4 years old. So, I went to the file cabinets to search for it and eventually found it. It took me 2 hours to find it because it had been misfiled. Misplaced files, damaged files, and missing files are all common occurrences with paper files. By adopting a paperless office, you will be able to search for files within your software and access them anywhere you go. This was beneficial because I was able to travel without having to carry a stack of folders with client’s sensitive information. I was able to open up my client’s tax organizers on demand and was actually able to deliver a prior year tax return to another client who needed it. I was able to complete the returns more efficiently and spend more time with my family.
We all know that it is hard to find great new talent, especially in this industry. When my business was growing I needed someone with the skills to help me, but I wanted to ensure that they had the flexibility to work from home on their schedule. The cloud allowed that because I was able to give my team member access to the systems that they needed to do the work while empowering them to be able to work at whatever time. My first hire was a stay-at-home mom with an impressive background and she has been such a rock star for our firm! We were able to provide an environment of flexible work by giving her the tools to work from home. There is a huge talent pool out there that can provide tremendous value to you and your firm if you’re willing to think outside the box of the traditional nine to five office environment.
I am a huge proponent of technology, which is why you will always hear me talking about it. Technology and the cloud allowed me to attend my niece’s first communion, catch up with my wife’s cousins, and get to explore Monterrey, Mexico. I knew when I started my firm that I wanted to create the ability to attend these events and interact with family instead of just flying in for the day and leaving the next day. I also wanted to empower my staff to enjoy the same focus on family. Technology and cloud adoption made this possible for all of us.