Phoenix (April 5, 2004) -- A huge opportunity for improving efficiency related to technology use is to focus on those at the top of the firm, according to CPA Tom Davis, owner of TC Davis CPA, and president of Knowledge Concepts Inc.

In an InfoTech Partners e-newsletter, Davis says partners must have skills in varied specific areas. For instance, partners should know how to organize e-mail for personal use, to  save to the firm’s electronic file room, and how to reply and forward e-mail in a manner that promotes effective communication using different fonts, attachments and other factors.

Most firms lack a firm-level calendar process, Davis says. Team members use the calendar as a “personal” tool, depriving the firm of the benefit of a consistent process that can be relied on for micro-scheduling. Partners/managers should be able to add calendar items, create group calendar views, and change access rights to allow other firm members access to the partner/manager’s calendar.

With time and billing software, the partner/manager needs to be able to do on-screen budgeting and planning, billing, and information review. On-screen use is crucial, Davis says, as being able to get to information faster can make a substantial difference in firm profitability. Additionally, there’s a wealth of features that firms don't take advantage of because the team members using the application (in many cases administrative personnel) don’t have the knowledge of the clients, services and other engagement aspects that a partner/manager will have.

Every partner/manager should use a notebook computer as their primary machine, Davis adds, and must know how to replicate information to work off-line, and how to establish a Net connection from a client’s office or a hotel room.

If the partner/manager is a tax expert, skills such as on-screen tax prep and review, Net research, and service management (due-date monitoring) will be important, says Davis. In the audit area, important skills are the ability to use the firm’s work paper tool, collaborative word processing, and communications from in the field.

-- WebCPA staff

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