How utilizing Cloud Audit Suite positioned the firm for post-pandemic successCollena Matz at Gruenloh Hardy & Associates, P.C. shares the firm’s experience switching to Cloud Audit Suite
Gruenloh Hardy & Associates, P.C. is a full-service firm offering audits, compilations and reviews, tax work, payroll processing, bookkeeping, consulting, financial planning, and more. Located in Robertsdale, Alabama, the firm has existed for over 40 years and employs 23 people, including four partners.
Collena Matz, CPA, MBA, and Partner, spoke with Thomson Reuters about the firm’s switch to the Thomson Reuters Cloud Audit Suite in 2019. The following are her answers to the questions posed about the firm’s Cloud Audit Suite experience.
What challenges did your firm want to solve?
Our firm’s CEO, Wayne Gruenloh, has been in practice for close to 50 years. The other three partners all specialize and oversee different areas of the business. I manage the assurance services. Our audit assurance department consists of five staff members, and we serve between 30 to 35 audit customers annually as of 2019. The department wanted to go paperless, collect all our data in one place, increase the efficiency of our work and reduce the stress of working remotely. We now have grown to serve between 55 to 60 annually, adding only one additional full-time personnel as of 2022.
Investing in the right technology at the right time
We started using the Cloud Audit Suite after tax season in 2019. We did our training, then started in July. It’s been the right move for us, and we did all that in 2019, pre-COVID.
We started with AdvanceFlow first, then later added GoFileRoom. We were just going to continue to use File Cabinet, but then we went through a firm merger and needed to look at how to optimize software utilization. That’s also when we went to a virtual office with all our products from Thomson Reuters. Now all departments use GoFileRoom and our firm is entirely cloud based.
We utilized the full value of Cloud Audit Suite during the COVID-19 pandemic and that plays into our success story and happiness with the tools. Because we implemented Cloud Audit Suite when we did, we came through COVID, not behind like all the other firms in our area who did not use cloud-based programs. We have even seen about 30% growth.
I’m doing proposals left and right because we’re seeing clients that are not happy because their work is so far behind — things of that nature; it’s more of a reaction at this point — and we are able to take on more capacity.
From paper piles to cloud-based organization
Before Cloud Audit Suite, we were still very manual and using multiple software, so you had your software for trial balance, separate PPC documents in SMART Practice Aids, Word documents, and Excel spreadsheets — all of which would get printed and put in a binder.
The partner would manually sign off on everything, and after some time, the whole big audit binder would end up being three to four two-inch binders that would be manually scanned in. None of the software was cloud-based and none of them talked to each other. Not to mention that we would have to be down a lot for software upgrades and data maintenance. Now we do not have to do any of that anymore.
Making the switch — the good and bad
When we switched to the Cloud Audit Suite, the sales rep spent a lot of time with us. It was new that the Cloud Audit Suite was being rolled out to firms of our size. We talked a lot about support and training, as that was important. What really sold us on moving to AdvanceFlow was the single solution, as well as the support and training we received.
We didn’t really reap benefits in year one, but years two and three are where we’ve seen the biggest impact. The first year was a chore to get everything into Checkpoint® Engage. While some of the data converted, all our tools and documents needed to be manually inputted.
We got extensive help with converting our data. We had on-site training for a week and that’s really what we needed as we went from paper everywhere to everything online. It was a complete rethinking of the way we work. While our budget is much heavier on the software side, we’re able to run a leaner department because of the efficiencies gained. There’s less of a need for support staff.
There’s been challenges, but now we’re reaping the benefits of the Cloud Audit Suite. Our time spent on audit planning or engagement planning is probably cut in half.
Available from anywhere with real-time updates
We already had to work remotely before it was required for people to work remotely because we would go on site to a client’s office, and many times you would get there and someone forgot to back up something from the software, or you need something back at the office.
Another issue was making sure whatever computer you were working on — desktop or laptop — that you have the correct version. For me personally, and in my role in quality control, I always had to worry if I missed something because a staff member referenced outdated material. Now, I don’t worry about that. It’s always up to date and I no longer need to worry about an update or making sure that all my staff members updated their computers to the latest version.
Now we have many employees that can work from home — knowing they have the latest information and maintaining colleague collaboration — instead of sitting on site at the client’s office, waiting. We no longer have to worry about ‘Did we bring everything to the client’s office? Did we remember to back up all the software?’ That’s been a big stress reducer.
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