Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 24 seconds

The Importance of Technology in an Accounting Firm

Gary Boomer picOver the years, Gary Boomer's proselytizing about properly funding technology in a tax and accounting firm has had many variations. But judging from his presentation at a session at the annual CCH User Conference yesterday, one thing hasn't changed: Firms still don't know what they are spending for technology. Another thing should probably be added is that it isn't enough, especially in the soft costs, which are areas that get whittled away during a recession.

Boomer's wide-ranging presentation at the Gaylord National Harbor in Maryland repeated his long-held belief that providing funds to train employees is probably one of the best investments a firm can make. He quoted statistics from the widely known research group, Gartner, that "For every hour you put something in training, you get five hours of increased capacity."  The inverse of this is that cutting training bucks may cut expenses, but it really reduces the returns that can be generated by the use of technology. The unwise cutbacks in training parallel the lack of adequate IT support. Boomer said firms average about one IT person for every 33 employees, which is much too high to provide the kind of IT skills and technology help that firms need. Firms that are doing a good job with IT have about one IT staffer for every 25 employees.

That theme of investment in training carried into Boomer's thoughts on the value of Information Technology itself. He said firms should understand the value of IT to their businesses, not just calculate the expenses. And he talked about the risk of trying to merely march in place with technology. "What if your firm only maintains IT at the current level? Can your firm compete without first-class IT?" he asked the group. His final answer is basically that the firms that don't keep up with technology won't be around.  

His audience of IT leaders from accounting firms were also given the message that when Boomer talks to managing partners "I am going to tell them your role needs to change them dramatically" Those two dramatic shifts will be to innovate and the other will be the use of IT to produce more revenue.

Bob Scott
Bob Scott has provided information to the tax and accounting community since 1991, first as technology editor of Accounting Today, and from 1997 through 2009 as editor of its sister publication, Accounting Technology. He is known throughout the industry for his depth of knowledge and for his high journalistic standards.  Scott has made frequent appearances as a speaker, moderator and panelist and events serving tax and accounting professionals. He  has a strong background in computer journalism as an editor with two former trade publications, Computer+Software News and MIS Week and spent several years with weekly and daily newspapers in Morris County New Jersey prior to that.  A graduate of Indiana University with a degree in journalism, Bob is a native of Madison, Ind
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