CaseWare Cloud on a First-Name Basis: Meet the People Behind the Platform
By Dina Elzayat
Let’s take a behind-the-scenes exploration of CaseWare Cloud, the platform that breathes life into CaseWare’s worldwide accounting and assurance products.
Our platform leaders have spoken, and I’ve had the pleasure of sharing their experiences.
Adaptation and scalability at heart of platform
CaseWare Senior Development Manager Amir Toole is a strong believer that the true power of an extensible platform lies within its ability to easily adapt and scale as your business changes and grows. “An extensible platform goes beyond personalizing an application,” he says. “Think of it as if you’re buying a car: You’re not just looking at the paint; you’re looking under the hood.”
Amir is currently leading an ongoing project for Cloud 2.0 to simplify the way code is developed and shipped, as well as to provide external developers with the same environment and tools as internal developers. This allows distributors, partners or even large firms building Cloud products to fluidly and constantly iterate on their development environments.
“We always challenge our technical decisions and directions in CaseWare. You don’t find that elsewhere.”
Senior Development Manager
Admitting that he likes to be constantly challenged, Amir breathes passion into every word as he explains: “The easier you can customize, the more you can adapt to support variations. Be it a plugin, a microservice, a data analytics enhancement, whatever! We are working towards that goal that whatever it is, just a simple SDK and it’s done.”
CaseWare has provided Amir with the creative freedom he craves, and also supported him when he needed to relocate by offering him a fully remote work option, long before a global pandemic made remote working a commonplace thing. “It has changed my life,” he says. “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to work in an office again.”
Sharing experiences ‘like an unwritten code of conduct’
Last year marked Kyle Silverman’s tenth work anniversary at CaseWare, where he’s had alternating roles in quality assurance, project management, distributor success and finally, product management.
“The vision across all platform teams—whether it’s Cloud, Smart Engagement, SE Builder or Data Analytics—is to automate every engagement performed by every accountant and auditor around the world,” he explains.
Smart Engagement (SE) took off shortly after Cloud development started. The team knew that their job involved literally solving all accounting and assurance problems around the world, something that is not going to happen overnight. As a starting point, they picked a less complex type of engagement, an audit of Self-Managed Super Funds in Australia, and focused initial development on supporting this one solution. Ever since then, the SE platform has vastly expanded. Our North American product suites, the CaseWare Suite (Canada) and the OnPoint Suite (U.S.), are only tips of the iceberg.
Every engagement by every accountant and auditor is a hefty goal—one that comes with a lot of challenges. “We almost have an endless roadmap,” says Kyle. Building SE is not just a matter of replicating Working Papers features. The team constantly identifies brand new problems that feed into the SE roadmap.
“Take the PBC Requests functionality for instance,” Kyle explains. “This was not a feature on the desktop. We realized how powerful it is to have an efficient and secure form of interaction and document exchange between parties, so we built the query functionality, which was then integrated into Working Papers.”
In a way, navigating multiple roles within CaseWare has unraveled Kyle’s desired career trajectory. His previous roles have given him exposure to distributor and client issues, concerns and requests. However, in those roles he’d merely pass the feedback on. As product manager, he sets the strategy, roadmap and feature definition, as well as guides the success of the cross-functional teams that are responsible for delivery. “I truly believe in what we do at CaseWare,” Kyle adds. “I believe it’s important and it makes a difference.”
“Everyone is always more than happy to share experiences and information. It’s like an unwritten code of conduct.”
Product Manager (SE)
Boosted by ‘intellectual stimulation’
SE Builder was primarily introduced to the SE platform to fortify Cloud solutions so they can cater for tax preparation. Want to know how? Meet Ashley Pereira.
Ashley was a coop student when he got employed by an accounting firm in Toronto. One of the firm partners, Dwight Wainman, wanted to revolutionize the way people do their personal taxes. It wasn’t long before he started another company (CaseWare). Ashley, along with a few others, were interested in the startup. He started off on the desktop platform, then moved to Cloud development when that kicked off. A few years later, SE Builder came along.
SE Builder enables developing custom forms in Cloud products. For industry professionals that build accounting and assurance solutions, this is huge. SE Builder unshackles them and allows them to get ahead of the competition. They can build a product that’s one hundred percent custom forms-based.
"When SE Builder kicked off, it all felt like a startup again, and that initial spark was back,” Ashley explains when asked why he stayed with CaseWare for as long as he did. “I know that when SE Builder winds down, there will be a newer and stronger spark awaiting. That’s why I never left CaseWare, and never will.”
Providing modern solutions to old problems
When you hear the words analytics for auditors, you might immediately think: This has to be the most boring thing for a developer! But when you hear Kevin Simon talk about data analytics, the perception changes.
“Analytics is actually a fascinating space,” he explains. “You basically give a computer a bunch of data and it tells you things you didn’t know before. Data tells financial stories based on evidence and facts, as opposed to anecdotes and suspicion. This is what we call insights.”
Analytics ideally starts with a set of agreed-upon facts, like general ledgers. A strong data analytics solution pulls logical conclusions from these facts so that no one can argue with what’s presented, because it’s no longer an opinion; it’s an indisputable conclusion.
When Data Analytics (DA) was starting off, Kevin’s team wanted to rapidly develop something that met minimal requirements and got the job done. But now, it is transitioning to being its own platform—a subset of features that can be turned on/off in an SE solution.
“CaseWare has the funding, the tech and the willpower to provide modern solutions to old accounting problems."
Product Lead (Data Analytics)
Kevin has only been in CaseWare for a little over two years, but when asked to describe the CaseWare work experience so far, he said: “Two years in, I’m very confident to say that I made the right decision coming here. The financial services industry is currently going through a revolutionary change. I am delivering solutions that literally change an entire industry. CaseWare offers tremendous opportunity!”
- In the summer of 2007, Amir Toole was working as a Technical Support agent during his fourth year at university, when he received a call from a lady asking how to post a job for a company called CaseWare. The job post piqued his interest and he applied.
Amir has been with CaseWare ever since. He is the one who introduced Kyle Silverman to CaseWare.
- Ashley Pereira comes from an immigrant family and was the first one in his family to go to university and pursue a degree in accounting, following his father’s footsteps. When he started working in software development, he realized it is what he wanted to do most, so he dropped out. Self-taught, along with a few other coops and two tax professionals, Ashley studied computer manuals and wrote Canada’s first tax preparation software using only a few PCs. That was back in 1982, well before the birth of the internet.
- Kevin Simon was referred to CaseWare by a colleague in the security group. He actually joined as part of the IDEA team and led something of a double life, working with the IDEA desktop product based in Ottawa and the CaseWare Cloud team in Toronto for a while, until he took on data analytics full time.
‘Our People Makes Us Great’ is one of CaseWare’s core values. We are a workplace that cherishes and invests in its people. Join CaseWare if you want to thrive in a place that considers you its most valuable asset.
Dina Elzayat is a UX and technical content writer at CaseWare International, and a regular contributor to our blog.