Cetrom in AccountingWeb: Why CPA Firms Should Self-Assess Their IT Legacy Infrastructure

Christopher Stark, Cetrom’s president & CEO authored piece featured in AccountingWeb on December 3, 2019.

CPA firms that have experienced IT challenges driven by rapid change and growth should not run out and buy the newest, shiny hardware; hire an expensive IT director; or contract with a managed services partner.

Before your firm can improve, you have to take steps to know what you don’t know, so to speak. You and your leadership sense that clients might be unhappy, security might be behind the eight ball, and employee productivity is down — and your IT performance may be driving these challenges.

In essence, you must first ask:
What are the root causes of your IT challenges?
What are its strengths?
Is it a human capital issue?
Is it a hardware problem?
Are your various systems not talking to one another?
Do your employees need to be trained?

Why Self-Assess?
Often the first time a legacy IT system is assessed is just before it’s eliminated, which is pretty normal. But an interim step needs to be taken by CPA firm leadership: plan ahead! The first part of planning ahead is conducting a comprehensive self-assessment of the current state of your IT program.

We see this all the time at CPA firms. Its legacy system has become a contorted mess of software, hardware, and data sources that have been added to and altered for years without a deeper, unifying overall strategy.

The first step to building a unified and agile IT ecosystem is doing a deep dive into your legacy system. And yes, this will take time; it might be a bit painful and will require some reprioritization, but this pain is dwarfed by the potential damage caused by a network collapse during tax season or a data security breach that destroys your reputation.

When you put it in that context, examining your program deeply and asking the following questions doesn’t seem so painful, right? So, look at your IT program with the following categories and questions in mind.

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