Magazine article The CPA Journal

The Exceptional Value of Onsite CPA Communities

Magazine article The CPA Journal

The Exceptional Value of Onsite CPA Communities

Article excerpt

Over the past few years, social media has gained momentum within the tax and accounting profession. Sites such as Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube enable professionals to exchange information in real time, while accounting-specific blogs keep CPAs apprised of the latest technology trends and efficiency-elevating innovations. There is no denying that the Internet provides exceptional convenience; however, the power of face-to-face network communities cannot be overstated.

Onsite networking forums (or "communities") have been a long-standing and faithful tool to exchange experiences and share best practices with colleagues. Simply defined, such communities are exclusive groups composed of forwardthinking firms. These groups typically meet on a semiannual basis to examine common issues and identify resolutions - all within a noncompetitive, supportive environment. Community participants also benefit from hands-on demonstrations, roundtable discussions, leadership and software training, and updates on current technologies and how to implement them effectively.

Unlike online forums, onsite communities provide participants with a level of energy and discussion that is difficult to reproduce in a web-based environment. Brainstorming for solutions and defining best practices is a complex and dynamic process that is best enabled by face-to-face interaction. When great minds come together in the same room, the value is exceptional for all those involved.

What Community Members Are Talking About

Key topics discussed within onsite community sessions include integrated systems, the latest and greatest technologies, automated workflow, best practices, and paperless processes, to name a few. Community participants are talking about common issues and coming up with smart resolutions. Consider the following popular topics:

The value of integrated software systems. Time is money, so businesses are always searching for ways to improve overall efficiency. Because integrated applications support completely digital processes, businesses experience an increase in both efficiency and return on investment Fully integrated software supports seamless data transfer between products and virtually eliminates manual rekeying of data. Integration also expands to other popular applications, such as Microsoft Outlook, Excel, and Word, as well as to leading research and guidance systems. With true product integration, companies can standardize workflow from start to finish.

The efficiency gains possible with a dig- ital, paperless workflow. Many accounting firms are coupling integrated software with web-based innovations, like client portals, to achieve completely digital and paperless work environments. …

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