Keeping Up with Tech Is Accountants' Biggest Annoyance, Survey Says

Published on July 25, 2016

The biggest technology “annoyance” faced by accountants is keeping up with changing software, according to a recent survey, with security and risk management in second place.

The accountants responding to the recently released Third Annual Accounting Firm Operations and Technology survey also reported several challenges in their day-to-day practice. The biggest one, unchanged from previous years, is workflow efficiency (34 percent). A new category for this year, security, came in second place with 19 percent citing it as their biggest concern. Fourteen percent of respondents indicated that getting clients on board with working with the firm in a more digital way is their biggest challenge.

New Practices
Even though working remotely is becoming more common across industries of all kinds, accountants have been slow to adopt the practice. Telecommunication capabilities, paperless programs, the internet and cloud make a centrally located office nearly obsolete and needlessly expensive, yet only two percent of respondents said they worked 76-100 percent of their time outside their office. A full 53 percent of responding accountants work 90 percent of their time in their office.

But accountants are moving forward quickly in other areas of technology, particularly in mobile device use. Sixty-four percent of all firms financially support the use of Apple iPads, Android tablets or Windows tablets. In addition, 17 percent of firms have a Bring Your Own Device program. BYOD programs are becoming increasingly popular across corporations of all kinds, as they allow employees to use their personal device—i.e., the device they are most comfortable with—to access corporate data. Of course, security is of utmost importance, and employees are expected to comply with their IT department’s requirements to participate.

Trends
While only 16 percent of all participating firms have already implemented a web-hosted, cloud-based or software-as-a-service (SaaS) version of one or more of their tax and accounting applications, 36 percent reported that they are likely to implement this technology over the next two years. A minority, 27 percent, said they are not likely to do so. The most popular SaaS products being considered by practitioners include Intuit QuickBooks Online, CCH Axcess Tax, Xero, Bill.com, Accounting CS and Sage One.

And tech spending is increasing. Thirty-eight percent of responding firms said their technology budget has increased since last year. Only 6 percent said they had spent less.

The Third Annual Accounting Firm Operations and Technology survey eBook was released by Randy Johnston, chairman and CEO of Network Management Group Inc., and Leslie Garrett, CEO of Insight Research Group. The survey highlights a variety of practices and trends surrounding the technology used by accounting professionals working as sole practitioners as well as accountants working in firms.

Twelve percent of respondents were solo practitioners with no employees, 43 percent were from small firms with 1-10 employees, 30 percent were from medium size firms with 11-50 employees and 15 percent were from large firms with 51 or more employees.
 (Source:  AccountingTechnology – June 29, 2016)