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accounting engagement

Improve Your Engagement Quality With Cloud-based Accounting Solutions

By Mike Martin

Picture a small, homegrown assurance firm focused on serving local small and medium businesses. Over a decade, the business has grown from a tax practice with a sole practitioner to a  thriving 10-person staff offering a range of services to a larger customer base.

While business is good, it could be better. Staff spend too much time paring down checklists of tasks and documents, while ensuring they’re adhering to professional standards for their accounting engagements.  They also struggle to collect documents that are provided by clients (often simply called PBC files) on schedule.

Fortunately, there’s an easy fix for this firm’s problems – an intelligent, cloud-based engagement management solution that automates menial, time-consuming tasks, freeing up staff to better service the practice’s clients. The cloud-based platform is able to intelligently populate engagement checklists, so staff know which procedures or workpapers to apply to each engagement. It also makes collaboration easier through a central portal where all documents can be stored and accessed by authorized individuals.

After implementing the engagement management solution, the assurance firm is able to reduce inefficiencies, eliminate multiple manual processes and increase productivity.

“A cloud-based engagement management solution lets you work smarter,” says Monie Grewal, a product manager with Caseware. “It saves you time, reduces errors and helps ensure you’re complying with professional standards.”

Built-in expert guidance

Let’s consider another example of how cloud-based engagement solutions can boost staff efficiency.  

A mid-sized U.S. accounting firm with 15 employees provides audit and assurance services to small and mid-sized businesses in its region.The company has grown steadily over the years. Despite its success, it still faces a number of challenges. 

One of these challenges is under-auditing and over-auditing. At times, the firm’s staff are in a rush to meet deadlines and don’t follow procedures as closely as they should. At other times, staff try to make sure to follow industry guidelines closely, so they can pass their peer reviews flawlessly. This results in some engagements taking longer than they should, hurting their profitability and growth, while other engagements aren’t conducted as closely as they should be, resulting in overlooked issues.

A cloud-based engagement management solution, incorporating up-to-date methodology and guidance from a professional organization, such as the AICPA, makes it simpler to follow industry standards. It also saves staff significant time, leading to fewer missed deadlines. The solution’s embedded methodology means staff simply have to input answers about a client’s business plan and they’ll receive audit procedures they can follow based on each client’s needs. They no longer need to manually map procedures themselves.

The accounting firm also benefits from the engagement application’s built-in analytics and diagnostics. Staff can save time through automated calculations of key financial ratios, perform journal entry testing in minutes thanks to the ability to import trial balances, and review financial statements quickly with built-in diagnostic checks.

Improved client communications

Another challenge is communication between auditor and client. The firm relies largely on email to contact its clients and collect documentation. Busy schedules and full email inboxes mean responses aren’t always timely, which leads to delays and missed deadlines.  

The engagement solution gives staff a better way to communicate with clients through built-in collaboration capabilities. All relevant documents can be sent to customer contacts and signed off electronically through a secure, central portal. There’s no waiting for emails to be answered or documents to be received. Everything relating to a particular engagement is stored and accessed in one location.

“You don’t have to rely on multiple, separate tools to manage your clients,” Grewal says. “You can communicate with clients in real time, ensuring everyone is in sync as the audit progresses.” 

Caseware’s OnPoint Audit & Assurance Suite is a secure, cloud-based engagement management solution that streamlines client collaboration, automates data acquisition, performs testing of general and sub-ledger activity, and includes standardized engagement templates. It features integrated smart methodology and expert-drafted content providing the latest guidance and professional standards. The OnPoint Suite offers a collaborative workflow and increased accuracy, saving you time and simplifying every engagement.

Discover how you can make your practice more efficient with an intelligent, cloud-based solution like Caseware’s OnPoint Audit & Assurance Suite.

Mike Martin is a Content Marketing Writer at Caseware. He is a former IT magazine editor with extensive experience researching and writing about enterprise technologies. At Caseware, Mike reports on today’s top issues affecting auditors and accountants and how advanced technologies are helping them drive better results.

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