Art of Accounting: Things Change

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IMGCAP(1)]Innovation requires change, and many of us resist or are reluctant to change. But hopefully not me.

I continually look for what’s new that can be adapted to what I am doing. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up and it seems it is getting harder and harder.

One way I think I am keeping up with is that I am writing this column on a Surface Pro 3 on a plane. A couple of weeks ago I was going to present a speech in California with a 225-page handout. My routine when I give speeches is to print the handout, punch holes, put it in a three-ring binder, make notes on the pages and then put different colored tabs with handwritten notes on each page I will refer to. Since I was going to travel and did not want excess baggage, I wasn’t too happy about the 225-page, loose-leaf binder I would have to carry. After sharing my problem with a few friends, I was pointed to the Surface Pro with a full keyboard (that doubles as a cover) as the solution.

With the Surface I have been able to handwrite my comments directly on the computer screen and have it recorded on the handout. When I gave the presentation, I simply used my fingers to scroll down. Completely paperless! I’ve already used it for three additional speeches and now this is my standard method. Things change!

This got me thinking about other changes. We all made the big change to the PC, but adapting to new software or the new generations of personal computing is still taking time for many of us. On some level the Surface is “old” technology. Mobile computing is overtaking laptops and tablets. There are cell phones—oops, smart phones—that can do whatever the Surface can, but it is much easier to read notes when giving a speech on the 12-inch Surface screen. My Surface even takes great photos that can be immediately emailed and it enables face-to-face conversations over the computer. Things change!

Another major change is switching to QuickBooks. When QB first entered the market, it did not have the “controls” I was used to in software. I thought it was so bad that I started a list of everything I did not like about QB. Well, a lot of those “didn’t likes” are now some of the features I like best about QB, and about 90 percent of my small business clients use it. Things change!

At some point I changed to Word and Excel from WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3. I still think that WP and Lotus were better, but that doesn’t matter. We have to use what has become almost universal if we want to be connected. Think how amazing this is. I could type something on my computer and email it to someone who can open it and have it appear as if it was done by them on their computer. It’s magic! Things change!

Innovation requires change, which takes an openness to try new things out. Connectivity has speeded up the currents of change. No matter how hard we try, we will still fall behind, but by trying to keep up, we won’t be as far back as those who are afraid or reluctant to change. And one thing is certain in today’s world: Things change!

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner emeritus at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz (published by CPATrendlines) and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition” (published by the AICPA). Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 964-9329 or

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