The customer is always right, right? Maybe if you sell clothing or run a restaurant. But for accounting firms, let’s dispel that myth immediately. If you want your firm to be more efficient, productive, and profitable, seize the reins from your clients and take client accounting online, advises Darren Root, CPA CITP, and CPE Link instructor.

“For many years in my own practice, I allowed my clients to dictate the process. It was the client that was in control, delivering their data on CD, in paper format or by email. They also got to choose what client accounting system they used—and version!” Root calls this “living in the silo” and says its time knock down those silo walls and break out into the clear air of “the cloud.” The next generation accounting firm will have a strategy for online accounting and delivering services in a shared space that’s convenient for both the client and the firm.

“In a shared space, data is always accessible, current, and easily exchanged between the firm and the client because it resides in a shared environment. The real value of adopting the shared space mode is that you control the workflow. And when you are in control of your own processes, many pain points are eradicated,” says Root. In a shared online environment, you won’t be waiting for the client to deliver CDs. Instead the data is always available to you. You have correct data at processing time, because errors in journal entries have been caught and corrected along the way. And you’ll take back several days during the month because the client is no longer a bottleneck.

What do you need to move your practice into the cloud and greater productivity? Here’s what Root recommends:

o Think about your services
o Take an inventory the solutions your clients use
o Develop a strategy that promotes efficiency
o Identify solutions hosted and software-as-service solutions that support your strategy.