For Janice Jovingo, a CPA and director of technology at Moore Stephens Apple in Akron, Ohio, learning about and implementing the latest technologies is a daily challenge.
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“Our industry is becoming more competitive, and it’s important to be as efficient as possible,” she says. “In addition, our clients look to us for technology solutions and they expect us to be on the leading edge.”
It’s her job to keep Moore Stephens Apple securely perched on that edge. “Currently, I’m most interested in paperless technology,” comments Jovingo. “I see tremendous benefits and efficiency improvements. There’s a lot of resistance now, but that will change over time,” she adds.
Last year, Jovingo implemented a paperless system for the firm’s tax preparation practice using Creative Solutions’ FileCabinet Solution. This year, the firm went one step further and began scanning incoming source documents into FCS. “We spend less time filing, the documents are secure, and we don’t have to spend time shredding documents,” notes Jovingo.
“In addition, we can quickly and easily retrieve documents without ever leaving our desk,” she continues. Documents are stored in a PDF format, “so we know that the data hasn’t been changed. We can also provide better service to our clients by emailing password-protected returns as needed,” says Jovingo.
The firm already had Ricoh 450e copiers with scanning in place and now uses them in tandem with FCS. In addition, Jovingo set up a workstation near the copier/scanner that is used to scan in tax documents, and an idle laptop and monitor have been hauled back into use, so no additional hardware investment was needed. “I would estimate the cost for scanning equipment to be about $500 per month,” says Jovingo. “However, with the reduced time spent processing returns due to not having to make a copy and also due to an increase in the number of returns we filed electronically, we are already seeing a return on our investment.”
With annual revenue of $6.5 million and 10 principals, Moore Stephens Apple is a regional CPA firm serving privately owned businesses in northeastern Ohio. The firm blends accounting expertise with advisory services such as human resources, information technology, and employee benefit planning.
In her role as director of employee training, Jovingo requires staff members to undergo six hours of software training per year. She says, “We try to keep the sessions to about two hours each. We have a training team that meets each year to decide which programs to include. This is based on feedback from employees and their supervisors.”
To date, sessions have focused on such programs as Microsoft Outlook; Visual Practice Management from Best Software subsidiary CPASoftware; FileCabinet Solution, UltraTax, Depreciation Solution, and Accountant’s Trial Balance from CSI, and tax research products from both BNA and RIA. Currently, the firm does not test employees, but is considering doing so.
Before becoming director of technology, Jovingo headed up the firm’s external computer consulting practice, implementing accounting packages such as MAS 90, Peachtree, and QuickBooks, and also providing custom Microsoft Access programming.
In fact, Jovingo still does some custom Access programming. For example, she had a client using MAS 90 Bill of Materials, Work Order, and Materials Resource Planning. The MRP was producing the reports needed to order required material; however, these purchase orders had to be entered manually. This time-consuming method was prone to error, and there was no simple way to choose what items to exclude from or add to the orders. “I wrote an Access program that automated this process. A process that took days now takes a few hours to complete,” she says.
Jovingo enjoys the hands-on aspect of dealing with internal technology, and she especially enjoys being able to show her colleagues how to use the software in depth. By contrast, “When working with clients, I always felt I just sold the software and the training, and if I was lucky, I went back and upgraded the software,” she says.
Carly Lombardo is Associate Editor of Accounting Technology and can be reached at email@example.com.