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Discover How McDonald Jacobs Mitigates Risk and Improves Client Service and Staff Retention


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The firm migrated to the cloud-based CCH Axcess™ solution to ensure the firm was protected, could offer better customer service and was able to recruit top tier talent.

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Discover How McDonald Jacobs Mitigates Risk and Improves Client Service and Staff Retention

  1. 1. Challenge: McDonald Jacobs needed a way to reduce operational risk. Solution: The firm migrated to the cloud-based CCH Axcess solution to ensure the firm was protected, could offer better customer service and was able to recruit top tier talent. Discover How McDonald Jacobs Mitigates Risk and Improves Client Service and Staff Retention CPA and Partner Jake Jacobs of McDonald Jacobs, a tax, accounting, audit and consulting firm in Portland, Oregon, looked at the risk to his firm from a natural disaster, and knew he needed to take action. The firm and its 30-plus staff members have just one location and cannot afford any downtime or data loss. I am aware of firms that have had to deal with a tornado, hurricane or super storm, and when they were in the cloud, the firm survived. And when they didn’t have cloud-based software, the firm had significant challenges. We wanted to get into the cloud for business recovery and continuity. — Jake Jacobs, CPA, Partner, McDonald Jacobs, Portland, Oregon Disaster recovery planning isn’t the only advantage for the firm. Migrating from Wolters Kluwer’s on-premise solutions to CCH Axcess™ , Wolters Kluwer’s cloud-based solution, helped the firm provide better customer service, retain staff and recruit top talent. Moving to the Cloud Successfully migrating a firm onto new technologies requires — being able to see and choose those that will make the most sense for the firm and its clients both now and in the future. A firm’s technology leader also needs to possess technical knowledge and a great deal of understanding of people — how to motivate them, and how to help them embrace and benefit from change. A lot of what we have done with technology at our firm is not just hardware and software, but moving people from what they were doing to a new and better way. Change management is a crucial part of success as it relates to technology. Once McDonald Jacobs settled on the CCH Axcess cloud-based software modules, the next steps were turning to people within the firm to champion the new technology. Those people are within the firm’s technology committee, which is involved in decisions and roll-outs, serving as advisors on how the firm’s users are receiving technology and helping to disseminate information. When the firm added CCH Axcess™ Document in September 2012, Wolters Kluwer’s cloud-based document management solution, the firm began implementing a detailed roll-out and integration plan. From September to December 2013, the firm added CCH Axcess™ Tax, Wolters Kluwer’s cloud-based tax preparation and compliance solution, and also utilized CCH Axcess™ Portal for sending, receiving and storing client and firm files. We were very ambitious. By October, we made the final decision. Then, we had training with Wolters Kluwer’s Professional and Client Services in October, November and December. The firm also implemented CCH Axcess™ Workstream, a full‑featured solution that allows firms to efficiently manage deliverables, and CCH Axcess™ Practice, the cloud-based version of Wolters Kluwer’s practice management and time and billing software program. Ultimately, the cloud-based software will pay off with additional efficiency, but Jacobs is quick to point out that the cloud-based software is similar to the on-premise software, and potential time savings wasn’t the only motivator for the firm’s decision. The software functions the same. I think that it’s going to yield long-term timesavings for us. But to be frank, that’s not why we did it. The point was to take our operations into the cloud. Jacobs emphasizes the need for tax and accounting firms to move their business to the cloud. The benefits of moving to the cloud are huge. Instead of being out of commission with servers down, we are able keep working. That’s invaluable. Additionally, the convenience of staff members being instantly productive from anywhere is revolutionary.
  2. 2. Improved Customer Service Convenience also means that staff can deliver better service to clients. With everything in the cloud, staff can quickly field questions whether in the office, traveling or at home. If a client needs a tax return again, and we can put it on CCH Axcess Portal for their convenience, that’s good customer service. It’s convenient and more efficient. Improved Talent Retention and Recruitment Another benefit is improved staff satisfaction. The firm is a regular honoree in the Oregon Business 100 Best Companies to Work for, and Jacobs is sure that using advanced technology is in part the reason for that honor, since it makes work easier for staff members. Providing the best technology to staff lets them work efficiently during the day, and if they need to be out of office, they can still work efficiently from home. That’s a win-win for everyone. In addition, using the best technology allows the firm to attract new talent. When we’re competing with other firms for potential employees, we have an edge. If someone is looking at our shop versus a shop that is not in the cloud, we have a competitive advantage. We’re looking for great candidates that will bring value, productivity and ideas, and technology helps us recruit that talent. Passing the Torch McDonald Jacobs has been in the process of transferring the role of technology leader from Jacobs to Principal Tyee Carr over the past year and a half though an intentional succession plan detailed in writing — with Jacobs still available as an advisor. Jacobs and Carr credit the smooth transition to some key elements: having a detailed plan rolled out across a long timeframe; both having a deep, vested interest in the transition working smoothly; and having a similar vision. The ones that go well are intentional, well thought-out and well designed with a lot of follow through. By nature, the wider the timeframe, the better. Both parties have to be willing and committed for a successful transition. Tyee was keen on taking over the role. I am keen on him succeeding. I want to see this firm do well long after I’m involved in the day-to-day technology — and that’s vital. The combination of that commitment and a long timeframe makes it successful. I’ve seen other situations where I’ve questioned what the prior vision was — that would have been difficult. Jake’s vision for what technology can do made so much sense to me that it was easy to adopt as my own. — Tyee Carr, Principal, McDonald Jacobs, Portland, Oregon CCH Axcess Workstream for Audits McDonald Jacobs uses CCH Axcess Workstream for tax work, but also points out the benefits on the audit side for managing engagements more effectively. Benefits include: ll An easy process to create new projects ll Roll-forward of prior year’s projects ll Auto-population of pertinent client information ll Simplified tracking of key dates ll Staffing assignments are easy to see at a glance ll Staff members mark off worksteps as completed when entering their time ll Project status changes are automatically updated; notifications within the software are sent out as projects move from beginning to end
  3. 3. All trademarks and copyrights are property of their respective owners. Join us on at © 2015 CCH Incorporated and its affiliates. All rights reserved. Integration Between CCH Axcess and CCH®  IntelliConnect® Helps Protect the Firm and Speeds Up the Tax Prep Process In addition to CCH Axcess, McDonald Jacobs relies on the context sensitive links from within the tax return line items to perform tax research via CCH IntelliConnect. Having access to comprehensive and timely research materials helps protect the firm by ensuring staff can find the answers to any questions they may come across while preparing the tax return. That extra level of protection — as well as the fact that integrated tax research is one click away — is not lost on Tyee Carr, Principal at the firm. When our staff is busy preparing our clients’ returns and has a question, they don’t necessarily need to find the Tax Manager or Partner to come up with the answer. The fact that the information they need is just a mouse click away on CCH IntelliConnect makes it really easy for them to find it themselves; it’s all right there for them. Additionally through CCH IntelliConnect Browser Search, when staff search on the web they’ll see reliable CCH IntelliConnect answers as part of the search engine results page — and be able to click right through to CCH IntelliConnect. This allows us to be more accurate, efficient and responsive to our clients, making it a great and necessary feature to have. By allowing staff to get to the needed information quickly and easily — while still working in the tax return — the firm enjoys an extra level of protection. Why? Because at least we know that the preparers final decision is made based on a comprehensive tax research product like CCH IntelliConnect. — Tyee Carr, Principal, McDonald Jacobs, Portland, Oregon For More Information 800-739-9998 11/15 2014-0418-13