The Innovative Practitioner Award shines light on exemplary practitioners who are embracing new strategies and technology by taking the initial steps of a long-term plan or by continually benefiting from early adoption. We received several submissions from CPA community members, and a select peer group voted on the winners.
We’re proud to announce the Innovative Practitioner Award 2016 winners and runner-up recipients. You can read their inspirational stories below and consider these ideas for your own firm.
CPA firms solve clients’ problems, and the best avenues to explain how we do that is through our professionals' experiences and summaries of our services. As Postlethwaite & Netterville grew, our experience and service offerings also grew, and it became more of a challenge to ensure everything was up to date and accurate. Additionally, younger professionals are conditioned to manage their own information online and expect information at their fingertips. Rachael and Caitlin had an innovative idea for a tool that could manage our professional bios and sales materials, ensuring that materials are accurate, consistent and available 24/7. They led the development of Pounce, which is an easy-to-use, web-based system designed not only for our firm, but also for all professional services firms. With Pounce, everyone in the organization can quickly access marketing collateral to assist in business development efforts, such as professional résumé, industry experience summaries and service capability summaries. Pounce keeps it all in easy reach with one’s own custom-designed data searches and availability anytime, anywhere via a desktop or mobile device. Since this tool launched internally, we reduced administrative time getting similar materials in our professionals’ hands, which means our marketing department has more time to focus on strategic initiatives. Additionally, in only a month’s time since the software launched externally, demand from other firms has been impressive. We believe that not only has this tool been of significant benefit to our firm, but also that it will help solve similar challenges in many other firms.
Through Charles Postal's vision and leadership, Santos Postal has always been on the forefront of technological advancement. Since his appointment as managing partner 14 years ago, when it was considered innovative to network the firm's computers, to making the firm truly paperless and providing multiple monitors to all staff, Charles has overseen and implemented such modern technologies as Yammer, Slack and Officevibe to provide greater transparency and communication among staff — especially the millennial generation. This is in addition, of course, to running the firm and developing and implementing a succession plan for the firm’s future. He is well deserving of the 2016 DCPA Innovative Practitioner Award.
In 1993, Kathy Ryan and another colleague set out to found their own consulting firm in Silicon Valley. Today, RoseRyan is a bustling accounting and finance consulting firm in the San Francisco Bay Area with about 80 professionals. As the firm grew, Kathy knew she had to further operationalize the firm’s processes with appropriate systems. Originally, the firm used manual processes (mostly plenty of Excel spreadsheets) to manage key processes, such as scheduling consultants on engagements, tracking candidate flow in the hiring process and more. As RoseRyan evaluated possible systems to automate this work, it discovered there were a few point solutions on the market for various functions, but none that were available to handle all the desired functionality needed, and none were well enough integrated or available at a price point for a growing small business. The few solutions on the market that were more robust were unfortunately very expensive and more suitable for larger enterprises. In light of this, Kathy chose to develop her firm’s own in-house application to automate key operational processes, making its scheduling, time sheets and recruiting efforts efficient, and has expanded from there. The in-house solution, named the RoseRyan Dream Team System (DTS), was developed by the firm's internal IT manager in 2006, and it has been expanded and used successfully across the firm since then. It’s been a phenomenal boost to the firm’s efficiency and productivity, as it now automates several core processes. The RoseRyan Dream Team System software has these areas of functionality:
RoseRyan is vastly more efficient in understanding profitability, chargeability and other key metrics for the firm using DTS. The benefits to the firm far outweigh the costs of developing the system (time spent by the internal IT manager who has been the system’s primary developer).
Dixie McCurley believes passionately that to continue to be successful in our ever-changing industry, we must use advances in technology to combine the corporate daily accounting processes with the CPA firm's compliance-driven products. Dixie has redefined her firm’s client deliverables by creating customized accounting models that provide her clients with both the accounting data needed to operate on a daily basis and the analytical data needed to grow their businesses. Dixie believes whole heartedly that the tax return, compilation, review and/or audit will soon become “free” by-products of her clients’ properly structured accounting operations department. Although client operations and CPA compliance have typically been two separate accounting focuses, she has established a new “norm” for the future of accounting. While Dixie has been practicing this in her firm over the past five years, she has also been helping other CPA firms learn how to apply this philosophy to transform their practices as well. Dixie is an AICPA/CPA.com Practitioner Trainer who conducts the two-day Roadmap for Profitably Moving Your Client Accounting Services Practice to the Cloud. Some of her most successful participants have been able to take a 25-hour-per-week process down to fewer than four hours, in effect allowing those firms to easily triple their number of clients without adding additional headcount.