Accountants Turn To Technology During Pandemic
The global pandemic reminded accountants and auditors that it is impossible to be in complete control of every circumstance surrounding their practices. It’s also become clear, however, that with the right technology tools and digital strategy, it is possible to counter the ill effects that such disasters can bring about and minimize their negative fallout.
A recent webinar highlighted many of the recent advances in Caseware’s platforms that are helping customers prepare for unforeseen occurrences like the pandemic, and also ensure they are equipped to compete and thrive under any circumstances.
“In just two or three days, our client base across North America radically changed how they worked,” remarked Caseware Chief Product Officer Ross Hampton about the immediate effects COVID-19 had on accounting and auditing professionals. “They historically went into the office to do audit or compilation engagements or read financial statements.” When the pandemic hit, however, “they had to adopt new ways of communicating and new technology to engage their clients. And [they] adapted with incredible speed that hadn’t been seen before.”
Although they were forced into a position where they had to work differently, many are emerging stronger than they were pre-pandemic. That’s because they have asked themselves how they can operate better and more efficiently than they did before.
The webinar highlighted key developments in Caseware’s product evolution that are helping customers make these kinds of advancements a reality. They center on three core areas: Collaboration through cloud computing; facilitating data-driven decision-making; and automating standard processes.
Cloud Transition and Collaboration
The ways in which you interact with internal staff members, your clients and third parties like banks, lawyers and shareholders, is changing - for the better. Cloud computing makes these kinds of interactions easier by eliminating outdated and clunky ways of communicating and sharing information. Caseware SmartSync allows teams to work on files simultaneously without having to worry about tracking different versions and potentially losing data. Everything is managed in the cloud.
Developing a multi-platform cloud approach has been key to helping clients leverage the right amount of cloud for their individual needs.
“Some firms say, ‘We are about to go into a really busy season. I know my processes, I know my systems, and I know how they will work in Caseware Working Papers. Can I carry on with that but leverage some of the functionality in the cloud?’ And then we have other firms that say, ‘OK, we are a cloud-first organization, and we just want to go with cloud-only applications.’”
Caseware’s answer is to let the client choose what platform works best for them. For the former group, a hybrid, or integrated approach is available, and for the latter there are cloud-specific apps.
Benefits of Data Analytics
“Data keeps on coming at us, and we believe this is an opportunity to deal with it efficiently and get more value out of it,” said Hampton. Caseware’s Sherlock does exactly that.
“Sherlock extracts all those core data points that are sitting in all your Working Papers files, or in your cloud files, and allows you to analyze or monitor that information. You can, for instance, compare a client file with all the other files in your practice that meet certain properties and compare this client file with the benchmark data.
“You can also see, from a management point of view, what documents are active, which ones are signed off, how many engagements you have for audit, for tax, or for review, and then you can drill down to see that in more detail. It’s about looking across all your engagements.”
Automating Standard Processes
Caseware has focused on integrating capabilities within its platforms to eliminate tedious, repetitive tasks and enable process efficiency. Attaining client signatures is a prime example. “That journey to them signing it off, and scanning it, and re-uploading it, and getting it back to you - that’s not as efficient as it should be.” To eliminate this often frustrating and time-consuming process, Caseware has now built Caseware eSignature right into the platform.
From a drop down menu, recipients can choose a ‘Use Signature’ option to digitally sign. The requestor is notified when the response has been made. They can then go back into the file, see a confirmation that the e-signature has been added, and can also view the actual signature file if desired.
These and other advancements in Caseware’s offerings are being built in to help clients adjust to a world that has been forever altered by the pandemic. Although many of our responsibilities remain the same, we are now playing by a radically altered playing field.
“When it comes to our world, it’s the same game. You have clients to service, compliance overhead, you have to invoice clients, and you have to meet compliance and regulatory requirements. But there are totally different rules.
“We will never get to the way it used to be. It will be different in some ways, and that presents opportunities and challenges in the work we do every day. How we actually do it and interact with clients will change.”
Watch the full webinar for more insights and news on Caseware’s technology evolution.