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Every industry goes through its natural phases of transformation. As time goes, new technology becomes available, and new processes are developed. Internal and external factors contribute to the transformation process of all industries. Accounting industry is not an exception.
Only a few years ago very few accountants used software to prepare tax returns for their clients. Some even considered it a pride that they were smart enough to prepare tax returns without using software. Within a few short years, almost every accountant in the country uses some kind of tax preparation software to prepare tax returns. Now it is not a question of whether an accountant uses software to prepare tax returns, but of which software the accountant is using. Times have changed significantly in the accounting industry. Observant accountants may notice how fast things changed in their industry.
Unlike only a few years ago, it is almost unimaginable how any accounting practice could function and survive without computers and accounting software. There is probably not a single accounting practice in the country that operates without computers and software for tax and accounting. Only a few years ago, a large number of accountants did not consider computers or software as something that would be able to enter their industry. They thought nothing would replace their ability to prepare a tax return. They thought nothing could replace their ability to balance a trial balance and prepare financial statements out of it. Their denial has turned into widespread acceptance within a short time.
Accountants are now in a new phase of denial. This time they deny that it is ever possible for an accounting practice to operate without papers. They deny that it is ever going to be possible for accountants to operate without papers, period. There has been a lot of talk about paperless offices coming for years. Numerous articles have described how the world will change with paperless business operations. However, the predictions have not come true at the speed people were expecting. The topic lost its attraction over time. Thus, the denial of accountants that there could ever be a paperless office for them is justified.
The fact is that the paperless office is sneaking up on us. The technology that is required to convert business operations into paperless operations has become remarkably affordable. Small CPA practices can now go paperless with an investment of as little as $2,000, on their own. Times have changed significantly in this area but unfortunately, accountants are not noticing this trend.
The technology is available, affordable and quick. Yet there are thousands of accountants in the country, who are not even aware of this change coming in their industry. Just like it is unimaginable that an accounting practice could operate without computers and software today, within a few short years, it will be unimaginable that an accounting practice operates WITH PAPER.
The nature of this change is such that it could be devastating for many accounting practices. When accounting and tax software came about the process of adopting the change was not that difficult. You could go forward with a new way to operate very easily. You would purchase the software, train yourself and start using it, going forward.
Going paperless, however, is a culture change of a great magnitude. It brings about major changes in the way the offices work. It requires a major change in work flow processes. The conversion process also requires good planning and implementation. Conversion is not difficult but it does require special planning and attention. There is a significant revolution brewing in the accounting industry, unnoticed by many, which could damage and kill many small accounting practices, while make fortunes for others. It is the paperless revolution that could bury a few accountants under their own papers.