Online Portals and Workflow Solutions for CPAs

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As keepers of some of the most sensitive data, CPAs often wonder: what are the best online portals and workflow solutions to protect client data? 

As Managed IT Professionals with a long history of working with CPA firms in the Greater Phoenix Area, we often encounter CPAs that use multiple applications. Often, none of the applications integrate or ‘talk’ to each other. We look at what third-party systems will integrate with already-in-use applications within the firm. We determine whether these can be incorporated into existing systems for things like e-signatures, file storage, etc. 

In general, most CPA firms are looking for one or a few applications that will do everything under one umbrella.

Over time, we’ve compiled a guide to online portals and workflow solutions for CPAs. 

(Disclaimer: Always consult a managed IT service provider or your in-house IT team to determine if these solutions will integrate properly with your existing setup.)

Solutions for Client Data Acquisition: 

Solutions for Internal Workflow:

  • FirmFlow
    • Often integrates with existing software interfaces.
    • Its interface leaves a lot to be desired. However, we recommend trialing to see what the integration is like and if it even remotely makes sense for your firm.

Sharepoint as a File Server Replacement:

  • Never store database files like QBWs (Quickbooks) in cloud file sharing platforms. Those databases will corrupt over time because SharePoint (and Dropbox, Box, etc.) are built for simple files, not databases.
  • Firms can still migrate simple files like Word, Excel, and PDF etc., to Sharepoint. Microsoft 365 gives you 1 TB of space + 10 GB per eligible mailbox license. If you have 30 users, that’s 1.3TB of space. 
  • The MSRP for adding space is .20 cents a GB. For your firm to get from 1.3TB to 3 TB, it will cost $340/m.

Tips for Dealing with Quickbooks Desktop and Clients

  • This company can host QB files, and the firm and the client can gain remote access to the environment. 
  • You could make this a part of working with the firm, and now it’s a 100% consistent process to gain access to clients’ live desktop QB files. Alternatively, if they use Quickbooks Online (QBO), your firm will already have live access.

Our Advice for CPA Firms

In a nutshell, our advice is to explore what applications exist that integrate with your current data. If you see a solution that checks several key boxes, ask for a reference and ask them the hard questions (i.e., if you could, would you choose this solution all over again?) 

If you find no solution is the right fit, there is a path to roll your own CRM and workflow logic in tools like Microsoft Dynamics, Flow, Teams, etc. Know that this will be 10x harder than conforming to an existing product – the time commitment and consulting costs will be significant. However, if done right and tuned to your organization’s workflow and culture, it could be a game-changer if the firm will make that substantial initial + ongoing investment. 

We also believe CPA firms need to focus on cybersecurity, disaster recovery, and shifting towards a modern work environment. Employing multi-factor authentication on everything and slowly moving workloads to the cloud (like SharePoint) is a solid start.

While we’re not experts on every online portal and workflow solution, we do believe in educating CPAs on the options that exist. Our desire is to help our clients by integrating tools and solutions that improve security and productivity. If you are a CPA firm and curious about vetting the options available to you, we can help. Contact the PK Tech team here