Discover How McDonald Jacobs Mitigates Risk and Improves Client Service and Staff Retention
Challenge: McDonald Jacobs needed a way to reduce
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
, 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™
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
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.
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
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.
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