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Technology providing for efficiency, better client service

The accounting business: The times, they are a-changing

Like many businesses, accounting is changing due to the advent of technology, and that is something those in the business are smiling about.

Laptop computers have almost replaced the need to lug around boxes of files, and the Internet as well as new computer software has made everyone’s lives in the business a lot easier.

Gail Eaves and Paula Kirkpatrick of Kirkpatrick and Eaves CPA in Louisville are not immune to these changes; on the contrary, the two have welcomed them with open arms.

“Almost everything we do now is on computer,” they said. “I know it’s very efficient for us. We’re on the Internet all the time for research.”

And, they added, technology has also made it easier for them to deposit payroll taxes because they can do so electronically.

“It’s great,” Kirkpatrick and Eaves said. “Technology is allowing us to move to a virtual office, which means that we can work from home or our client’s office and have all the files we need. Files are stored on the computer so that there is no need for physical files.”

And because the two have instantly retrievable client documents and the files are always centrally located, an increase in office productivity has resulted.

“We feel that all of this leads to a better client relationship,” they said.

Darrin Abernathy, manager with Smith, Turner & Reeves, P.A., in Jackson, sees the changes technology has made in accounting on three levels.

“First off, just the requirements of the firm in terms of using technology to be more efficient, to provide more services and provide them more efficiently, and along with that have the personnel,” he said.

Abernathy added that client contact is now mainly via e-mail, and that his firm uses the Internet for much of its tax research.

“Most of the big tax research groups are pushing their clients toward the Internet,” he said. “From a client service perspective, clients are beginning to let CPAs help them make their own decisions.”

Accounting services needed in ‘real time’

Overall, Abernathy believes clients will want information in real time, which is what a lot of online accounting services now provide.

“It compresses time,” he said of the Internet. “I think the reason for the growth in the Internet, generally speaking as an end-user of the Internet, is that you don’t require much training in order to use it.”

In addition to the Internet, there are software programs that have proved helpful in the business as well.

Jack Harper, manager of the Jackson office of LBMC Technologies, earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting and formerly worked in public accounting. He is now a certified computer professional and does computer consulting.

LBMC implements back office and front office business solutions for companies. The front office refers to customer relationship management solutions such as Siebel Systems.

LBMC also sells back-office infrastructure such as Great Plains and Solomon, recently acquired by Microsoft. These software products help businesses automate their accounting.

Technology leading to efficiency in accounting

“It’s (technology) probably made the whole profession more efficient,” Harper said. “People at every level can use computers to get their work done instead of requiring support staff to do it. I think that efficiency has allowed them to focus more on the client and the client’s needs. I think it would be fair to say it’s also allowed clients to get more work done in a shorter time frame.”

And with the advent of newer technology, Harper added, one can do so much more research electronically from one’s own desk. “That’s another way it has made the whole profession more efficient.”

Accounting now the core

infrastructure of an organization

John Weiss, business intelligence specialist at 121 Micro, said accounting is now part of the core infrastructure of an organization.

“It’s easy for someone to duplicate or replicate a business model of someone else’s,” he said. “Accounting software helps to give you information and you could say the real value of an organization is the information it has now.”

121 Micro sells and installs software, as well as does consulting on the business process. “The information your accounting package has is the real wealth and power of an organization,” Weiss said.

Contact MBJ staff writer Elizabeth Kirkland at ekirkland@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1042.

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