Industry association CPA Australia is releasing next week a concept called the Digital Practice to help members modernise their practices.
The Digital Practice at this stage promotes preferred software at discounted rates. The first and so far only supplier for the Digital Practice is Wolters Kluwer (CCH Australia). It makes CCH iFirm, a cloud-based practice management suite, and CCH Web Manager, a website design and hosting service for accounting firms.
CPA Australia had carried out due diligence, interviewed users and reviewed the roadmap for CCH iFirm before making their decision, Russell Evans, CEO of Wolters Kluwer Asia Pacific, said.
“I think it’s a validation of our vision. We are fixated on accountants and we aren’t interested in providing software to the SME,” Evans said.
Although the Digital Practice is intended to provide an integrated solution for accountants, Evans hadn’t heard of any other members at this stage.
“The Digital Practice is about (bringing CPA Australia’s) firms into the digital age and helping support them grow into the future. I can’t say there will or won’t be others. It’s part of their vision to grow into that,” Evans said. CPA Australia was contacted for comment. Update coming.
iFirm already integrates with Microsoft OneDrive, the online storage service included in Microsoft’s cloud productivity suite, Office 365.
Part of iFirm’s appeal was its neutrality in the accounting vendors’ fight for SME businesses, Evans said. The association also liked CCH’s plan to use iFirm to distribute information from Wolters Kluwer or CPA Australia. This could include newsletter articles, industry updates or legislative changes.
CCH Web Manager can already send out newsletters for firms. Once it is linked to iFirm a practice will have a central database to send out material from CCH, CPA or third parties.
The CPA could also distribute its own articles to accountants within the practice.
“The type of content (to be produced by the CPA) hasn’t been finalised yet. It will be for the accounting firm trying to broaden the horizons; how to help grow your social media presence or tax related information,” Evans said.
CPA members receive a 20 percent discount on selected modules in the iFirm suite. The suite includes modules for practice management, document management, intranet and portal. The company added to the suite this quarter CCH iFirm Tax Online, the first cloud-based tax program for SME accountants.
The CPA has 7000 member firms mostly in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.