Everyone’s thinking about the future these days.
- There’s the CPA profession, which took a good, hard look at its future in last month’s CPA Horizons 2025 report.
- There are the folks at Intuit and Emergent Research, whose groundbreaking report “Intuit 2020: Twenty Trends That Will Shape The Next Decade” set the stage for the profession’s Horizons 2025 project.
- There are Maryland’s young CPAs. They’ve followed up the Horizons 2025 work by building a blueprint for the future of CPA leadership, identifying their biggest opportunities for growth and creating action plans, timelines and desired results for each. (Keep an eye out for their eye-opening white paper; it’s coming soon.)
- And there are a million others, too, from Emmanuel Gobillot and Rick Richardson to Andrew Zolli and Dr. Jim Canton, all offer their vision of what tomorrow will bring.
Now, you can add CCH to that list.
At its 2011 User Conference in San Antonio, the software giant has released its Future Ready Firm Survey, a report that takes its own stab at identifying the things CPA firms must do to thrive in the future.
“With a strategic view of their client and practive needs, (future-ready firms) anticipate changes and innovate across workflows, optimizing processes, people and technology,” the report states.
CCH’s firms of the future are focusing most of their effort in four areas:
Tools and technology: Sixty percent of audit firms and 44 percent of tax firms will embrace cloud-based solutions, with larger firms doing so even more frequently. Mobile strategies also loom large, with most firms prepared to rely on mobile solutions extensively.
Workflow and processes: This is an area of glaring weakness. The report finds that 83 percent of audit firms and 61 percent of tax firms say their current processes need to be reassessed or improved.
Staffing and culture: Most firms nationwide say they have “the right people doing the right work,” but some say they have people on staff who are overqualified for the work they’re doing. Many are tapping into the knowledge of their younger workers for help with technology, tax and audit issues.
Practice management and analytics: About three-quarters of firms say they will use business intelligence software and cloud-based practice management solutions.
In short, says CCH President and CEO Mike Sabbatis: Even if you’re wildly successful, that’s no excuse for not improving. Sabbatis turns to Will Rogers to boil it down: “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”
Interesting, isn’t it, how so many of these future reports dovetail into similar themes — technology,
demographics, professional development, being nimble and collaborative and forward-thinking. It seems everyone knows what needs to be done going forward.
The next challenge is to do it. Let the work begin.