Gold Xero partner Hattam McCarthy Reeves is not a newcomer to cloud. But while the South Australian accounting firm has converted more than 100 clients to Xero’s online accounting program, half its internal systems were still operating on desktop or server computers.
Its journey to a 100 percent cloud-based practice will be fast-tracked after it won the Your Cloud Crowd competition, held by a broad collective of cloud apps and service providers. The prize was a package of over 15 cloud apps and services for an accounting firm, and several areas of HMCR were prime targets for “cloudification”.
“The number one issue in our practice is document storage,” said Nick Ciccocioppo, client manager for Hattam McCarthy Reeves. Six years ago the firm had moved from Windows Explorer to a desktop program called CCH ProSystem Document but found the program hadn’t developed as fast as it would have liked.
“We were getting increasingly unhappy with CCH support, there are bugs in the program and we want to get away from software you have to install,” Ciccocioppo said. With desktop and server software, “there will always be IT issues”.
HMCR had already been looking at moving to Microsoft’s cloud-based document and email platform, Office 365. Migration to the Microsoft platform was included in the My Cloud Crowd prize, as well as a year’s subscription to the Office 365 Modern Practice Portal, an Office 365 template for accounting firms developed and sold by Microsoft partner HubOne.
Ciccocioppo said he was impressed by one element within the Portal – a document scanner program that recognised a client’s name on a scanned document and automatically filed it under the appropriate client record in Office 365’s document management system.
“Auto-filing is pretty cool. That’s one of the biggest issues for any firm, trying to manage documents,” Ciccocioppo said. “Document management is something that no-one has nailed yet. I’m really keen to see whether Office 365 and the Modern Practice Portal nails it.”
Another challenge facing the firm was marketing and onboarding new clients. “Onboarding is what we’ll focus on the most,” Ciccocioppo said. “There are too many pieces to the puzzle internally so things don’t happen as they should.”
HMCR had used Xero’s Workflow Max for some time as its practice management system and while it was happy on the whole with the program, it fell short in some areas, Ciccocioppo added. “There are some good things and not so good things about it. On the whole we’re happy. But Workflow Max is pretty useless as a CRM. The thing that lets it down is the leads and quotes, and managing the prospect pipeline and database is not as easy as you’d like,” he said.
Ciccocioppo had been looking at Practice Ignition, an app designed for onboarding clients, but had held off until recent updates allowed for different prices for different clients. HMCR had won a 12-month subscription to Practice Ignition as part of the My Cloud Crowd package and Ciccocioppo said the app should improve Workflow Max “enormously”.
A third app that promises to make a big impact is ZenDesk. HMCR hasn’t had any structure to client support before; the person who looks after the client receives all emailed requests. “With ZenDesk we can have a central account where anyone can provide support,” Ciccocioppo said. “It will cut down the email noise in our inbox.”
The shift to the cloud will hopefully reduce Ciccocioppo’s role in the business as tech support. As more apps move to the cloud, “it will help reduce time fixing errors and bugs”.
BoxFreeIT will revisit HMCR’s experience with the My Cloud Crowd project after three months.
Image credit: Your Cloud Crowd