Survey of CPAs' Use of Microcomputers

Article excerpt

Where does the CPA line up on the playing field of computerization of his or her office? There is no question that use of computers by CPAs has expanded exponentially in recent years. And yet, there is the notion that some CPAs are still resisting the call to join the game. The time is just not yet right for some to learn to use a computer spreadsheet, manipulate the database, or crank up the wordprocessing system.

Because of this fragmented picture and the desire to know the kinds of computer articles to present in The CPA Journal, the editors embarked on a survey to determine our readers' level of use and understanding of computers. A random sample was selected from the Journal's subscribers.

Profile of the Respondents

Over 92% of the readers surveyed are either using computers or are involved with them in some manner. Fifty percent are in public practice, 37% in industry, and 13% in government, education, etc. Thirty-nine percent are in firms and companies with 10 or fewer professionals; two-thirds in companies with 100 or fewer.

Of those respondents who work with computers, 33% have moderate to extensive computer experience. This conclusion was based on the answers to questions on what each respondent was actually doing with computers, rather than on the respondent's own evaluation (see Exhibit 1). This percentage of computer literacy is surprisingly low and shows that many CPAs are still on the sidelines.

Computers Used

Forty-nine percent of the computers used were IBM products, compatibles other than Compaq accounted for 33%, Compaq 6%, and Apple 11%. On the other hand, IBM computers did not appear in the ranks of laptops. Here Toshiba was dominant (41%) with Compaq second (23%) (see Exhibit 2). Only 2% of IBM and compatibles were using the UNIX operating system instead of DOS. Most users of micros (54%) have five or less computers in their offices, but 9% have 100 or more.

Microcomputers were not the only type of computers in use, accounting for only 79% of the total. Minicomputers (14%) and mainframes (7%) made up the balance.

Computerized Functions

Public Accounting. As might be expected, the use of tax preparation packages led the way (18%) but, not by much. Word processing (17%) and spreadsheet programs (16%) were close seconds. Auditing was sixth (8%) (see Exhibit 3).

The real surprises showed up in the software selected for these functions. With the exception of WordPerfect (50%) for wordprocessing, Lotus 1-2-3 (69%) for spreadsheets, dBase III (67%) for databases, and FAST (33%) for financial statements, no other package dominated. …