What is the best idea you have gotten from a conference or trade show and how has it helped your business? While this did not come from a specific conference or vendor show, we have to give a lot of credit to Ed Kless and Sage Software for providing sessions and examples of scope documents and change orders at ITA and Insights. We had done estimated time engagements and scope was not well defined resulting in many times going over the estimated hours. Through these sessions and examples we have moved to a very clear scope document and fixed fee engagements with change orders for anything outside of scope (we are not yet sold on value billing). Our clients are much happier under these arrangements and billing is much easier.
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Business Technology Systems
Since being introduced to value pricing at the ITA conferences and various Sage events, RW&A has increased profits with existing and new clients and improved project management. We have not yet fully implemented Value Pricing but use variations on the methodology for approximately 75 percent of our projects. Clients really appreciate having an accurate scope and budget for a project up front.
I learned at the 2007 Information Technology Alliance Conference that at the end of an engagement, be sure you leave the client with more than just an invoice. For example, leave the client with a project binder that documents everything done starting with the sales cycle, then on to project documentation, and ending with opportunities to build upon this project in the future. Be sure your company name and logo are on the spine. You'll find this sits on a client's shelf, often reminding them of your organization causing them to remember the next project to leverage what was done in the past.
About three years ago, I attended a session on Paperless technology at the AICPA Tech Conference. The speaker mentioned that his firm bought inexpensive, flatbed scanners for all the accountants. The theory was that it would make them more judicious in what they scanned for the paperless file. If there really was any sizable scanning, it would be brought back to the office where we have high-speed scanners. We were just starting our paperless initiative and this advice allowed us to buy about 30 scanners for $50 each and really get things moving.
Morris N. Saks, CPA, CITP
Gorfine, Schiller & Gardyn
Owings Mills, Md.
Of the many good ideas I have gotten from conferences and trade shows, the best has been Colligo Networks for peer-to-peer networking in the field. Our audit staff no longer need to be network administrators to connect in the field. Colligo makes it as easy as clicking on a desktop icon. That has saved countless hours of support needed to keep networks up and running in the field. The field teams still have to meet with the IT department before a job to be sure they are all running the same versions of all software and to test their connectivity, but it has still made their lives much easier.
Zvi Gold, CPA.CITP
Goldstein Schechter Price Lucas Horwitz
Coral Gables, Fla.
In 2000, at a Navision Passport conference in Atlanta, we were told to go vertical and we did, leading to an entirely different, more profitable, business model.
The networking and relationships I have made [with] other accountants, ProAdvisors and software company representatives. Before I started going, I didn't realize how far you could take the consulting business. I just knew how I used QuickBooks from my own background and how I applied that. I learned how others approached the same issues and was able to expand my knowledge and my value to my clients. They know that I usually know of someone or a solution that may help them.
Amy Vetter, CPA/CITP
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Skip the sessions and spend time with the vendors and people in charge. This allows me to create a personal relationship with them and build awareness of who I am and what my company does.
Technology in a Box