Darrell Layman, CPA, is head of his own firm in Cuba, Mo, located west of St. Louis. He employs 5 full-time staff year-round and one additional person during tax season. He does approximately 650 individual income tax returns and 250 business returns. The firm provides tax preparation and planning, QuickBooks® support, full service payroll and accounting, also also has a wealth management division to round out the firm’s line of services.
Darrell is a current member of the Intuit Accountant Council and his firm uses Lacerte®, Tax Library and Tax Research; QuickBooks Accountant; Intuit Merchant Services; Tax Import; and Intuit Online Payroll.
The firm also recently implemented Intuit Practice Management; Darrell provided insight on why the firm decided to implement this new program and the benefits the solution has provided.
Amy Ball: What were the determining factors in deciding to implement Intuit Practice Management (IPM)?
Darrell Layman: There are several determining factors which led me to implement IPM. Intuit’s reputation and position as a solution provider for the accounting community and its quality of support certainly are foremost. I have used Lacerte tax software for many years and have always wished for a practice management solution from Intuit that would integrate with Lacerte. My wish was granted with the new IPM. Three factors led me to the decision to stop using practice management software from another major accounting vendor and implement IPM:
Amy Ball: What challenge(s) did you face that led you to seek a solution?
Darrell Layman: The real challenge was to stop using a solution was that was working for the firm and implement a new solution. This required all staff within the firm to accept and embrace the change. After implementing IPM, I discovered that it really wasn’t a challenge at all since the staff readily embraced the change and required only a minimal amount of training to implement.
Amy Ball: What did you do to make the implementation/transition of/to IPM successful? What type of training did you do yourself and with your staff? Did Intuit help with the training?
Darrell Layman: IPM was implemented outside of tax season and we ran IPM parallel with our existing practice management software for one month. We were able to discontinue the old software after the one month period. I implemented 30-minute training sessions with the staff on the critical parts of the solution that they use every day. The solution is very intuitive and really did not take much training for the staff. I had a few phone calls from IPM on certain functions of IPM such as invoicing integration. We used the short training videos from Intuit that covered certain areas of IPM during our training process.
Amy Ball: How has your firm benefited most from using Intuit Practice Management? How quickly did you start seeing results?
Amy Ball: Did you benefit from IPM’s integration with QuickBooks Accountant? If yes, how so?
Darrell Layman: Our firm has benefited most from the integration with Lacerte. When Lacerte is updated for adding new clients, changing addresses, emails or telephone numbers – and engagement tracking information is entered into Lacerte – IPM is automatically updated with no dual entries. The status of the engagement is also updated automatically in IPM as the tax return progresses. This tight integration allowed us to see immediate results. We saw immediate time savings by not having to update the practice management solution each time a phase of the engagement changed or set up new clients in IPM and Lacerte. This also allowed reduced the chance for error between two databases. We are able to work on returns and monitor them in a logical, consistent manner.
The other major benefit is the ability to access the practice management solution from anywhere. With wireless access points and our Samsung mobile hotspot device using Verizon 4G LTE, we are able to access our practice management solution from my Microsoft Surface tablet or iPad at a client’s office or anywhere on the road. We no longer need a contact database installed on our mobile devices; we merely access IPM for phone numbers, for example. We also have the benefit of providing billing and other information to the client without having to “get back with them later.
Darrell Layman: The integration with QuickBooks is a great feature and we certainly do benefit from the integration. I invoice the client in IPM and synch it to QuickBooks where the accounts receivable function is managed. The beauty of this is the staff that does not have access to the firm QuickBooks are still able to see client account balances and invoices within IPM.
Amy Ball: What is the most helpful feature within Intuit Practice Management?
Darrell Layman: The ease of use of the engagement tracking and the ability to manage the engagements or projects with minimal effort is most helpful. This was one of the major criteria in choosing the product. The notes and telephone call feature with the ability to follow up is another valuable feature. It allows us to eliminate the “dreaded” pink slip phone call follow ups with an electronic format that we can access and update from anywhere at any time. It also leaves a valuable trail of information that was discussed in a permanent format that can be retrieved very easily in the future.
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