Common Data Challenges for CPA Firms

by | Practice Management Analytics

Many top CPA firms share a number of positive practice management characteristics, but they also suffer many common challenges as they make the transition to becoming data-driven businesses. These include:

Siloed Data
Businesses today run on a collection of on-premise and cloud-based applications, e.g. accounting, sales and marketing, CRM, ERP, field service, point-of-sales, spreadsheets, databases, data warehouses, etc.

Oftentimes these systems are isolated from one another and cannot easily aggregate and share data—making it very difficult to get a comprehensive view of an organization.

Missing or Incomplete Data
Frequently, out-of-the-box software deployments are not set up for the unique requirements of a business. Or, if they were initially configured correctly, the company’s needs have changed over time and the solution hasn’t been adapted along the way. This can result in missing, incomplete, or improperly formatted data that makes accurate analysis very challenging—if not impossible.

Static Reports
Today’s Line-of-Business (LOB) software solutions are excellent at their core functionality but many lack comprehensive analytics. These systems generally produce static, text or table-based reports that do not allow for interaction, drill-down, or root-cause analysis.

Slow, Manual, and Error-Prone Data Prep
To compensate for the limitations noted above, users are frequently forced to manually export tabular data, merge Excel files, cobble together charts and graphs, paste them into PowerPoint slides and then email the completed report to stakeholders across the organization.

This, in turn, spawns a litany of questions, uninformed comments, requests for changes, additions, and updates that inevitably result in errors, wasted time, and delayed action.

To make matters worse, those responsible for managing this data—particularly at small and midsized firms—are often highly-paid controllers, sales VPs, operations directors, customer service managers or even c-level executives preparing quarterly Board reports.

This process results in a significant financial burden and constrains leaders from focusing on the actual data analysis and decision-making that drives performance.

Limited Communication and Collaboration
While companies struggle to secure data being exposed by manual processes, they also find it difficult to manage and encourage effective communication using the data that is accessible.

Each department may be using a unique collection of tools, processes, calculations, and nomenclature that make it difficult to synthesize data and convert it to actionable information.

To compound matters, these teams lack a standardized way to disseminate and collaborate on the analysis once it has finally been completed.

The Consequences
These common data challenges—along with an endless array of company-specific issues—frequently result in firms that operate from a reactive, damage-control posture.

Teams are busy putting out fires and trying to “get to the bottom of things” rather than working from a proactive, forward-looking position that allows them to make informed decisions that will increase profitability and long-term growth for their business and their clients.

Here at PIVOTL, we’re on a mission to bring the financial benefits and competitive advantage of enterprise-level analytics to tax and accounting firms across the country. If you’re ready to gain even more value from your CCH Axcess investment by seamlessly integrating enterprise-level business analytics built specifically for your firm, reach out today to schedule a demo of the new CCH Axcess Practice Management Analytics solution from PIVOTL.