The Boomer Technology Circles Spring
meetings have concluded and what a
difference a year
makes! The attitude is
more positive; firms have many projects and are in need of a road map for the
future. Never has a technology plan and budget been more important. I can’t
stress enough the importance of spending time upfront thinking, planning and
identifying your most important projects along with approving a budget that is
adequate to meet the needs of the firm. Many firms have focused on reducing
expenses the past two years and it is time to invest in technology, however,
make certain you are investing in the right areas.
Business Partner Update
Thomson and CCH presented their roadmaps for the
future at several of the meetings. Dashboards and real-time information are
hot! So are knowledge management and project management. Forget about the old
batch processing systems. Both major software companies have exciting new
solutions focused on mobile devices and the cloud. For most firms, it is going
to require a transition from on-premise client server solutions to the cloud
over a period of time. A few of the smaller firms are almost there and many of the
larger firms are planning their transitions over the next 2-5 years. The
investment in an IT plan and budget that can be communicated to the entire firm
is worth the upfront time. It will save you considerable time and money over
the next few years. Moving to the cloud is not just a technology project, but
rather a firm project requiring significant change management. I wish it were
as easy as some would like to think, but the tools are not in place yet for the
mid-sized and large firms to totally move to the cloud. If you are a mid-sized
or large firm don’t let this stop you from planning the transition and
investing accordingly to your plan. If you want better results you must change
your culture and the best way to change your culture is with accountability.
The Economic Model
While you are thinking about economics, remember
that a 1% price increase in most firms drives 3% or more to net income before
partners’ salaries. The past two years firms have focused primarily on cutting
labor and overhead expenses. A 1% decrease in labor results to about a 1%
increase in net income before partner salaries. Where is your firm going to
focus this year?
Mergers are certainly on everyone’s minds. If
your firm has the "missing structure” (leadership and management, talent
development, client develop, technology and compensation) you are probably
looking for the right merger candidates. If your firm doesn’t have the "missing
structure” you need to invest or look at merger opportunities. Firms are
becoming savvier regarding technology and mergers. According to some of the
leading firms who have done numerous successful mergers the fully loaded number
is over $10k per head. This includes soft costs and transition costs, but
ignoring this critical cost of mergers can be costly. It is not just about the
hardware and software, but also about the culture and accountability.
Role of the IT Professional
The role of the IT professional continues to change
toward a business analyst who focuses on teaming with accounting professionals
and focusing on efficiency, innovation and added client value (revenue).
Several of the firms are hiring business analysts, while in others; IT
professionals are developing the skills of a business analyst.
Firms are hiring again, but often at a lower
starting salary. The average salary increase is around 5% and is more
consistent across the nation than last year. The reason I underlined average is
that firms are also doing a better job of holding people accountable and
focusing on performance excellence rather than mediocrity. This requires
management that is willing to document expectations in advance and have
difficult conversations and make decisions if staff and partners are not
performing. I include partners, as the trend is toward much stronger partner
accountability. Firms are evaluating their partnership agreements and many are
terminating underperforming partners. Leadership and management are valued in
the top performing firms. Another trend is the evaluation of mandatory
retirement ages and work options beyond age 65.
Succession planning and execution are of utmost
importance in firms and throughout the profession. Procrastination is a big
obstacle. I can assure you from my personal situation you will not develop a
succession plan on your own. It is not only comforting to you, but also your
family and business associates when a plan is in place and working. I have a
plan and it is working. You can download our Guide to Succession Planning by
Succession planning takes time and you must first sell yourself, your family
and then the firm. Everyone is different. My advice is to get out of the
"rugged individual” mode and get some help. You will be grateful; but your
family and business associates will be even happier.
Server virtualization has been around for several
years and the majority of firms in the Boomer Technology Circles have implemented it. Three years ago Circle members started to discuss desktop
virtualization. At this past session many firms have implemented desktop
virtualization and are talking about the benefits. It doesn’t save hardware and
software costs in the short term, but does save support and time to market in
growth firms and merger situations. Over the long term it will save costs and
prepare firms for the transition to the cloud. Firms are using a variety of
vendors including VMWare, Citrix and Microsoft.
Firms that can develop talent will be the
winners. Awards for best places to work are great, but talent development is
the key to retention and attraction. The industry has been a bit foolish from a
long-term perspective due to the fact it has limited educational opportunities
for staff, especially in the non-technical area over the past two years. In
fact, many firms have terminated their training coordinators and learning
professions. This short-term trend is starting to change and the best firms
realize the advantages of a well-trained staff. Firms that have talent
development programs don’t have to worry about retention and attraction. Is
your firm promoting excellence or mediocrity?
A year ago only a few Circle members had iPads.
Today, a majority owns an iPad and partners rather than IT are the
professionals driving this. It is interesting to hear all of the innovative
uses firms are finding. People who don’t own an iPad don’t know how they would
use one. People who own an iPad don’t know how they would live without it. Yes
they are cool and cool is OK in an accounting firm. Apple owns
the market and it is going to be difficult for others to compete due to the
head start on applications and Apple’s application store.
CIO Advantage Program
We are starting the 2nd class of the CIO Advantage
the leadership, communication, team building, project management, business
savvy, and finance skills of the IT professional. The first meeting of the
second class will be held on August 16-17, 2011, immediately after the BTC
Summit. The progress and development of the first class has been significant.
Our objective is to learn from the first class and shorten the development
time. This requires thinking, reading, networking, communicating, and change
management. The two executives most impacted by change today are the managing
partner and CIO/IT leader.
must close even though I have only touched the surface of the content of our
meetings. The peer networking was great. If you are currently a member of the
Circles, don’t forget to register for The
2011 Boomer Technology Circles Summit
on August 15-16, 2011. Each member firm can bring three people.
Additional attendees will only be charged $595.
If you are not currently a member of the Circles but are interested in
joining, please contact
. The keynote speakers are Rick Richardson,
technology visionary and Colonel Greg Gadson, director of the US Army Wounded
Warrior Program. You can expect enlightenment, entertainment, laughter and
motivation. I hope to see you in Kansas City, MO in August!
The Boomer Technology Circles
The Boomer Technology CirclesTM
community will help your firm bridge the gap between technology and practice
management and accelerate your progress through thought leadership and peer
accountability.To learn more about The Boomer Technology Circles,
please visit http://www.boomer.com/?page=TechnologyCircles