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Time-saving APIs make data visibility possible for Baker Newman Noyes

Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting  

· 6 minute read

Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting  

· 6 minute read

If there is one challenge that resonates amongst large tax and accounting firms, it’s data visibility. Because most firms are using disconnected systems, getting a bird’s eye view across all data sets can seem next to impossible. However, by incorporating APIs, forward-looking firms are making data visibility a reality — and using it as a competitive advantage.

What are APIs and how do they work?

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are software code that allow two unrelated systems to access and use each other’s features or data. From reducing human error to analyzing data, APIs are transforming industries by bringing together disparate systems and unleashing endless ways to increase efficiency.

In fact, 70% of businesses that added automation to their accounting processes reported a stronger ROI. But how your firm applies APIs depends on your specific workflow and solution set. This speaks to the flexible nature of APIs and the need to personalize an approach that works best for your firm.

In general, API automation enables your firm to:

  • Automate key processes and reduce hours spent on non-billable work
  • Avoid entering data manually to reduce the risk of errors
  • Increase visibility of client needs with connected solutions
  • Connect otherwise disconnected third-party systems
  • Gain insights for analysis and decision support

APIs in action at a top accounting firm

Baker Newman Noyes (BNN) realized the power of APIs firsthand. Founded in 1995, BNN is a U.S. Top 100-ranked tax, assurance, and advisory firm serving clients locally, regionally, and globally from offices in Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.

When the firm set out to stitch together their disparate data systems, they began their journey with a Thomson Reuters Automation Consultation. The Thomson Reuters team conducted a half-day workshop with the BNN tax department to walk through their processes, step by step, and develop an API roadmap suited to their needs.

The first recommendation was to incorporate PowerBI to pull specific dimensions and elements from GoFileRoom and FirmFlow to surface data using visualizations. Once the data was made visible, the firm was able to identify specific areas that required more time for overall process improvement.

But their journey didn’t stop there. Using the same API approach, the Thomson Reuters team helped BNN increase the interoperability of other systems used in their workflow to eliminate duplicate data entry. The result was data passing from system to system seamlessly, enabling a single source of truth and better understanding of their distribution of work.

“We didn’t just stay within the boundaries of GoFileRoom,” says Travis Hersom, Chief Information Officer at Baker Newman Noyes. “We started to look at some of our other systems and by walking through our workflows and the steps that we follow, we were able to identify an impressive list of opportunities for us to leverage those APIs to remove even more waste in our processes. We were doing this at the beginning of busy season this year, so those quick wins were really welcomed.”

The impact of data visibility

Today, BNN uses the guidance gleaned from their Thomson Reuters Automation Consultation to make data-driven decisions backed by PowerBI templates to create visual reports — tracking time year over year and week over week — enabling the firm to proactively identify and monitor potential bottlenecks in the engagement workflow.

“Moving forward, Baker Newman Noyes will be doing a ton around analytics and data visualization,” said Hersom. “Our partnership with Thomson Reuters has been really helpful in evolving our thinking around how we want to display this data. The GoFileRoom initiative allowed us to show the importance of having this level of visibility and it’s been extremely effective for us to be able to shine a light on the areas that need a little more attention.”

The customized PowerBI dashboards created by BNN allow the firm to compare current year utilization with historical utilization data to forecast whether the firm has enough resources to handle new work. Balancing utilization can help avoid burnout and improve work-life balance for valuable staff, especially during busy season. Managing overall resources, cutting down on waste, and reducing duplication of effort are only a few of the benefits of automation.

Hersom continued, “With that kind of visibility, we can forecast out and make sure that we have the right resources in place to handle whatever the load is going to be. We’ve also looked at the time it takes to complete each step of our process to identify bottlenecks, which gives us an indicator about whether there are some opportunities for us to improve that process.”

Building a custom API roadmap for your firm

The Baker Newman Noyes case study is just one example of the many ways in which tax and accounting firms are leveraging automation to improve their operations and stay competitive in an increasingly digital world. A Thomson Reuters Automation Consultation can help your firm achieve these transformative benefits by documenting your daily workflow, identifying gaps and inefficiencies, and building a custom API roadmap.

Typically, your consultation will consist of four, two-hour sessions with Thomson Reuters API and automation consultants that dive deep into every aspect of your business. The sessions are designed to understand the day-to-day work of each job function and assess opportunities for automation. After compiling a detailed report of their findings, the automation consultants will share the opportunities, gaps, and recommendations for which products and automation tools would be most impactful for your firm. From there, they will help you in prioritizing and implementing the recommendations.

One of the most important considerations in creating your automation roadmap [link to infographic?] is ensuring that your systems can communicate with one another. Technology providers that embrace other companies’ tech and create APIs that allow disparate systems to work together bring another level of value to accounting firms. Because each firm uses tax software and systems in their own way, a customized consultation and plan of action is of the utmost importance in ensuring the benefits of APIs are maximized for your firm’s specific needs.

Book your Thomson Reuters Automation Consultation

With a personalized automation consultation, Thomson Reuters can help you unlock data visibility, endless ways to increase efficiency, and help you better serve your clients.

If you’re ready to unleash the power of APIs, book your Thomson Reuters Automation Consultation today.

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