This guest post was written by Liz Mason, Xero National Ambassador and CEO of High Rock Accounting.
There is a theme prevalent throughout the Xero Hour series that makes me look forward to the event every month: innovation. Innovation is fun. I have been accused since childhood of being a catalyst. I have always been the one that sparks others into action (resulting in trouble, but that is a topic for another time). I ask questions. I never do something because that is the way it has always been done. As you can imagine, I am a terrible employee. I founded High Rock Accounting five years ago with a mission, nay, a war-path: I will innovate this industry.
High Rock does what many Xero partners do – cloud-based accounting department outsourcing. From bookkeeping, to CFO services, to tax, to technology consulting, to growth strategy advisory services. We do not do assurance and we will never be a traditional firm. We have done some creative content marketing (check out our YouTube and Instagram), some boring social media stuff (check out Facebook and Twitter), and I have personally done a lot of writing and presenting. I wanted to help build the cloud accounting community further, so I recently took on the role as one of Xero’s National Ambassador.
One of the fundamental pieces of building the cloud accounting community is Xero Hour. Xero Hour brings together people from firms of all shapes and sizes. We talk about best practices, eat some good food, drink some good beverages and collaborate on innovation. This month we are discussing technology stacks.
Using technology and process efficiently can be the difference between a profitable firm and a perpetually broke entrepreneur. So, how do you make sure you’re using the right stack? My secret is: ask tons of questions and assume everything is possible. For me, this combination sparks innovation and creativity, and I apply this approach constantly, both internally and externally.
Recently, I co-founded a new firm, TheDepartment.Tax (TD.tax). Our mission is to provide cloud accounting firms with the highest quality tax compliance, so firms can white-label tax services and focus on what they are truly good at – business advisory. My title at TD.tax is Chief Innovation Officer (CIO). I am not the managing partner or the majority shareholder, and I will never do tax technical work, but that firm will have the best darn tech stack!
In my new role as CIO, my first task was to find the best internal technology to work with the team’s current setup. We outlined processes, analyzed alternatives, and took into consideration the best practices for running a profitable tax firm. The important factors we considered:
1. Easy visibility into project status and availability of work
2. Time tracking for paying employees/contractors
3. Integrated tax systems to make the preparation process as efficient as possible
4. The ability to store and send electronic documents (saves us on printing costs, admin time and reduces questions from clients)
5. Efficient internal accounting and billing
6. Fast communication with our clients (other accounting firms)
We settled on using:
1. Jetpack Workflow
2. Hosted CCH Prosystem (the entire stack so everything integrates and flows)
3. We are vetting Regroup Tax
4. Xero (duh!)
6. We are working through contract management systems for growth with our legal counsel, but are likely going to implement PandaDoc
This process of building a tech stack for a new company was a lot of fun for me! It reminded me that operations and a path to profitability should be the main factors, with ease of accounting taking a backseat. A common mistake I see people make is focusing on maximizing efficiency in the areas we as accountants are most familiar with, while ignoring the core of what the business does.
The best advice I can give is: when reviewing a company’s tech stack, whether internal or external, focus on its high-level strategy and efficient processes that facilitate that strategy, and find technology that lets the company’s best practices shine through. And to be a true catalyst for innovation: do not forget to ask all the questions first and assume the sky is the limit!
Xero Hour is a series of monthly events where you can connect with local, like-minded accounting professionals on the journey to building connected practices. This month, we’re sharing and learning about accounting technology stacks. Find your local Xero Hour and start your journey.