August 14, 2020

5 Most Important Takeaways From COVID-19’s Impact on CPA Firm Operations

CPA firms across the globe are now six months into a near 100% remote work “experiment” created by the COVID-19 outbreak.

While the switch from in-office work life to at-home work life was abrupt, most businesses and their employees adapted quickly to telework, discovering new work-life benefits as they settled into this brave new world where you can go for a run in the middle of a busy work day and still be productive.

CPA firm staff members have enjoyed a respite from being road warriors; they have benefitted from increased flexibility and they have been more efficient with their time. CPA firm leaders have, by and large, seen stable if not improved productivity and improved bottom lines from reduced operating costs.

CPA firms are also realizing that what at first seemed like an “experiment” in the first few months is going to be the new normal moving forward. This realization requires a paradigm shift for how firms assess the last six months of remote work and use the knowledge gained during this time to develop a long-term, comprehensive IT strategy and plan.

So, what should CPA firms and their teams have learned across the last six months of near 100% telework?  Here are Cetrom’s top five most important takeaways from COVID-19’s impact on CPA firm operations.

1. Effective Telework Requires More Than a Laptop, a Camera and a Headset

Providing the equipment your CPA firm staff needed to work from home was the easiest part of the transition forced by the pandemic. Building the IT infrastructure, deploying new software and adopting new tools — in other words, creating an effective IT ecosystem that empowers efficient and safe telework — was (and still is) the hard part.

CPA firms that resisted adopting a cloud-based IT infrastructure learned quickly, and sometimes painfully, that the cloud was the right approach for this new telework normal. Cloud computing and cloud services improve productivity and efficiency, but they also provide significant risk mitigation against the unexpected, like a pandemic.

At Cetrom, we are experts at building cloud solutions that will enhance your CPA firm’s performance and elevate its ability to remain agile and pivot when confronted with unforeseeable events like natural disasters, cyberattacks, public health threats, and many other risks to business continuity.

Today’s new normal makes it an imperative to have easy access to files and streamlined opportunities to collaborate from anywhere at any time. Cetrom’s Virtual Desktop, also known as VDI or Desktop as a Service (DaaS), provides CPA firms the capability to stay up and running in the midst of an unexpected crisis, delivering peace of mind to the business, security to its team and protection for the bottom line. A cloud-based remote virtual desktop solution provides access to the same icons, applications, folders, and files available on desktop computers in your office, making it an ideal solution for remote work.

2. Strong Data Security Is More Important Than Ever

Hackers and bad actors adapted quickly to take advantage of security gaps caused by the rapid transition to increased remote work. Instead of having a single network to protect, CPA firms were suddenly faced with scores of home networks accessing the firm’s network, creating new vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit.

To combat this, we’ve helped CPA firms do the following to button up their data security even with near 100% telework environments:

  • Build a remote work policy that can instruct employees on how to stay safe, as well as hold them accountable for putting the company at risk.
  • Deploy AI and automation to drastically reduce human error-caused security breaches via artificial intelligence that is always-on, 24/7/365 scanning, and monitoring.
  • Educate and train employees on cybersecurity best practices, creating heightened states of alert, and awareness that a steady state cannot only exist in a time of crisis.
  • Improve their data security backup processes by implementing multiple daily backups using different methods like cloud computing and hard drive backups, for example.
  • Establish, deploy and adjust a company-wide cybersecurity policy that includes:
    • Clear, enforced password rules
    • Restricted access and permissions
    • Protection for all devices
    • Two-factor authentication
    • Documentation disseminated to all staff
    • Remote work/Bring Your Own Device Policy
    • A security emergency response plan

3. Work Culture and Camaraderie Can Still Thrive Remotely

We’ve learned from our own experiences and from our CPA firm clients that workplace culture, collegiality, and togetherness don’t have to disintegrate because of telework.

There are tools and creative ways to keep staff engaged and close-knit; it just takes some effort and a new approach to team building. At Cetrom, we were a remote work company well before COVID-19. We have a deep and close-knit team that’s become even closer during the pandemic; we’ve leveraged this experience to help our CPA firm clients protect their cultures, enabling and encouraging them to:

  • Hold virtual happy hours every Friday, every other Friday or once a month (the important thing is to keep it consistent so people have something to look forward to). Our clients can hold a virtual happy hour on Zoom or whatever virtual meeting software they utilize.
  • Create virtual new hire onboarding events like a virtual new hire lunch where your firm pays for food delivery to staff homes and everyone gets together online at the same time to meet and greet a new team member.
  • Incorporate a segment of standing staff meetings for virtual “water cooler” talk. This time can be used to talk about current events, the latest Netflix shows to binge watch or a variety of other topics of interest that are fun and can relieve stress.

4. Business Continuity and Disaster Planning Is Critically Important

The pandemic outbreak should have taught all CPA firms to expect the unexpected.

This mindset change is not limited to public health emergencies. Preparing for natural disasters, fires, theft, power failures and other events that can critically and negatively impact operations is essential. If a CPA firm still doesn’t have a formal business continuity plan with a disaster recovery component after experiencing COVID-19, we’re not sure what will motivate them to do so.

Ultimately, we help our clients build IT continuity plans that mitigate all different kinds of risk. In order to mitigate as much risk as possible, your firm needs to actively and unendingly be in risk assessment mode.

COVID-19 likely exacerbated risks you already were aware of, and probably unearthed new risks that you’d never even considered. Again, we encourage our clients to react, assess and then integrate what they’ve learned and are learning during the pandemic into their business continuity plans. Business continuity and disaster recovery planning is not a “set it and forget it” exercise, particularly when it comes to your IT ecosystem; it is a never-ending process of continual improvement that keeps CPA firms prepared for the unexpected. The minute these plans become stagnant is when your risk is highest.

5. The Remote Work New Normal Is Here To Stay

This COVID-19 takeaway is pretty simple. The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way people work and the way businesses operate. We can’t truly understand the impacts the pandemic will have on the economy, family life, commercial real estate and even the environment. What we can predict with certainty is this: A big sector of your CPA firm will remain remote permanently and your firm needs an experienced IT and cloud services partner that can build, maintain, monitor, protect, and adjust your IT ecosystem to help you mitigate risk and sustain growth.

Cetrom can help you make the most of the pandemic new normal. Contact us today.

Four Critical Actions CPA Firms Must Take in 2021

Let’s be real. None of us really knows what the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 are going to look like. The good news is that CPA firms that..
November 19,2020

Cetrom Support fixed all of my problems, their engineers are very professional, courteous, friendly and very efficient. If all customer service out there was like this, it would be a better world...

- Mid-sized
View All

One of the things we appreciate wholeheartedly about working with Cetrom is how great the people in the service area are and the high-level of responsiveness we have received. I’ve been very pleased..

- Mid-sized
View All

Cetrom’s services and support really stood out against the other cloud vendors. We thought their Citrix delivery platform would have a higher level of adoption because our employees would have the..

- Mid-sized
View All

Our accounting services users working in the field have greatly benefited from our migration to the cloud. They’re now able to be much more efficient while working in a client’s office because they..

- Mid-sized
View All

The decision to migrate to the cloud was one of the best business decisions Rub & Brillhart has made. It required an investment, but we have determined that our year two IT costs will be reduced by..

- Small
View All

Our migration process with Cetrom was very smooth and we had an excellent experience with their support during the demo process. We have 24/7 monitoring on our onsite equipment and they have the..

- Small
View All

We are extremely happy with the service and support we receive from Cetrom. Our staff is more efficient overall in our day-to-day activities and we don’t have any downtime. It’s a good feeling..

- Mid-sized
View All

Cetrom is an extremely cost-effective option for IT services. Not only do we receive significantly improved customer service, but we were also able to add a new VoIP system, better internet service,..

- Mid-sized
View All

Because we use specialized software for CPAs, we were concerned about the migration process. Cetrom’s CEO reassured us that there’s no concern because they understand how the software operates in the..

- Mid-sized
View All

We use two programs that often posed a challenge for our previous IT providers. Cetrom handled the situation professionally, coordinated with the software vendors, did all the backend testing, and..

- Mid-sized
View All

After interviewing and reviewing the proposals from various IT providers, it was really a night and day comparison about price, service, and performance—Cetrom was just outshining the others on every..

- Mid-sized
View All

I just want to drop you a line and let you know how pleased we are with our move to Cetrom. Your people knocked it out of the park for us and are doing a great job getting us up and working. On our..

- Small-sized
View All

Because we use specialized software for CPAs, we were concerned about the migration process. Cetrom’s CEO reassured us that there’s no concern because they understand how the software operates in the..

- 97%
View All

Cetrom’s Cloud Computing offers a high-quality, reliable and secure alternative to traditional IT management and provides immediate access to all my IT resources whether I’m in the office, at home or..

- High-quality,
View All

blog Archives

See all

Four Critical Actions CPA Firms Must Take in 2021

Let’s be real. None of us really knows what the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 are going to look like. The good news is that CPA firms that..
November 19,2020

Cetrom Support fixed all of my problems, their engineers are very professional, courteous, friendly and very efficient. If all customer service out there was like...

- Mid-sized
View All

blog Archives

See all
Is Cetrom Your Cloud Services Solution?