I recently had the opportunity to participate in a podcast with Della Kopp, events manager with CPA.com regarding the digital CPA conference in San Francisco, December 4th to 6th. I wanted to share a bit of what we talked about!

Della Kopp: Today, I would like to welcome Kevin Cumley, Director of the Sage Intacct Accountants Program.  Kevin is responsible for managing the BPO outsourcing channel in partnership with CPA.com.  Kevin, do you have one topic that you find you are more passionate about than others?

Kevin Cumley: Hi Della... yes, I do!  Even though it's kind of a broad topic, I’m passionate anything that's transformational for small to mid-sized organizations that significantly improves their overall success. So these days, and for the last several years since taking on this role, it's all about accounting outsource services using Intacct as the cloud-based solution.

Della: That is a good topic as we transition to talking about digital CPAs. I'm just going to cover what three of the competencies are for a digital CPA: so it's technical skills, progressive business knowledge, and strong leadership. And though this can be said for running any accounting practice, the approaching strategies are distinctly different. Digital CPA is not just using technology but employing it to transform their business environment, and to be relevant and into the future for clients and staff. So, how does Sage Intacct enable digital CPAs to be successful?

Kevin: First, the fact that our program has a partnership with CPA.com (an AICPA company).  At Sage Intacct, we're the only accounting software solution provider that's actually in business with CPA.com and the AICPA. That's a huge benefit and advantage for our partners and the firms that participate in our program, and it’s where we get our exclusive endorsement of the Preferred Provider of Financial Solutions of the AICPA.

Second thing is, Sage Intacct is the leading cloud financial solution, so it's not only rated number one in customer satisfaction, but it enables firms to deliver high-value services like virtual CFO. We’re the only software company that can provide top cloud solutions for any size of organization; whether they're small, all the way up to enterprise and everything in-between.

Lastly, we have the most comprehensive accountant's program in the industry with significant resources to help ensure success. A few examples of that are; we've got very in-depth perspective partner guide that we developed in collaboration with CPA.com to help ensure that firms are interested in joining our program, that it's going to be a great fit which helps ensure a higher probability for everyone having success together. We've got a very extensive 60-90 day partner-enabling program that we use to teach partners how to create a successful client accounting services practice with Sage Intacct Accountants Program including a comprehensive business plan.

We've also developed a methodology in cooperation with CPA.com called the 8 Keys to Success, and it's the only resource of its kind.  The 8 Keys was the result of a year-long research project where we talked to 15 of our top partners to find out what made them different and more successful than other firms.  We then took that knowledge and prepared a comprehensive guide that actually features top partners that talk openly about those keys and specifically how they use them to drive increased success.

Della: That’s incredible. What does Sage Intacct offer in terms of product training?

Kevin: We've got very extensive product training and certifications, industry-leading sales, education available for our partner services and product technical support teams, a huge online partner community that includes a ton of resources and assets that they can use to help build a successful practice.

We have dedicated team members both on the Intacct side called Practice Development Managers, and on the CPA.com side Strategic Account Managers that work directly with partners to help them build a successful outsourcing practice. These are veterans in the industry that know the business well that can help provide support and guidance to our partners.

I've been in this business over 30 years now, and I've never seen anything like what’s happening in our industry right now... the opportunity is exploding and our channel culture is top firms that share openly how they're succeeding and work together to drive increased success which is incredibly cool and unique.  For example, we recently had two top 30 CPA firms that normally would be very competitive in their given markets, whether it'd be audit or tax, that partnered together to win a large outsourcing deal.  This doesn’t happen in other channels or vendor programs!

Della: It really sounds like you offer a well-rounded program for people to be successful, and for the firms that really want to have a better flow moving across whatever program and education factors they might be putting out there to their customers.  In regards to the program itself and all the collaboration that you've seen, what do you think has been the most challenging?

Kevin: For firms, the entire amount of time that they've been in business, and/or the individuals in the firms are so hard-wired to be competitive and just hold everything close to the vest. We're the only ones that know how to do this. it takes a little while for them to really understand that, "Look, if you work with other partners in other firms, you're going to be more successful. And the more you share, the more you're going to get back in return."

In fact, I was just on my way back from an event in San Francisco, where there were six different panel sessions, lots of CPA firms and industry leaders talking about it. And we had a couple of our partners that spoke and they were the only ones that talked openly about not only what they're doing, but the collaboration that they're having, and how much increased success it's providing. So I think it's really about changing that culture, that mindset, and like everything else, change is hard. But once people turn that corner, then it's just unbelievable the amount of additional success that's available for everyone.

Della: Well, changing culture and mindset, is a great segue into the next topic we want to chat about: future firm services.

Kevin: I would say future firm services are really today. The future is now, and for those firms that aren't there, or they don't get it, or they're not moving there quickly, they're going to get left behind. And I'm specifically talking about outsourcing and the huge shift that we're seeing in the industry across the board for all size organizations, but especially for larger organizations, what we would call mid-market, whether it's for-profit or non-for-profit.

Traditionally, they did all that stuff in-house. Now, increasingly, they're looking to outsource that and there's a number of things that are driving it. One is, there's a big shortage in the labor markets right now for skilled talent, and it's very, very competitive and expected to continue for a long time.  A lot of these organizations are having a hard time finding really highly qualified people that can step in as a controller, or more importantly, the CFO role, that want to be there long term.

For our partners, that's probably one of the biggest advantages or benefits that they can provide. Their number one goal is to be there forever, and so not only are they typically as good or better than anybody that you can hire internally, but you can get it for about the same price that they would normally have to pay on the open market to hire those people into their organizations. And then that outsourcing firm, they want to be there forever. It provides stability, continuity, and high quality information that can be used to make good business decisions in real time.

Second piece of that is the cloud; it's disrupting everything. In the past, where they've had to install these on-premises solutions, they had to put it on their servers, then deploy it across a bunch of work stations. It was difficult to be able to have a distributed environment, especially if they had lots of different locations, global operations, etc.

With the cloud, it doesn't matter. It's 24-7-365, anytime, anywhere. A product like Sage Intacct, again, being the top rated solution of its kind for the mid-market, it's got unbelievable functionality people could never even dream of before. It's real time, so as transactions get processed, that information is there in real time and presented in dashboards that focus on key metrics so organizations have the best possible format to view that critical data to make the right decisions to drive huge success.

Those traditional models, where the client was doing all the work and then the CPA would come in and take a look at the numbers, and then maybe do an audit and a tax return, that's all shifting. That's all changing. Technology is driving a lot of that, the future services and the corresponding disruption, and the other part of it is generational. Now, we've got millennials in the workforce and most of the high-tech startups. They are hardwired to outsource, and not a short-term thing, "Let's outsource until we're big enough, then we'll bring it in-house." They plan to do it forever. Those are two of the key highlights that are driving not only the disruption, but also what we consider to be really the future firm services that are happening right now.

Della: That’s fantastic. Well, I encourage our listening audience as well as the people who have registered for the digital conference to stop by Sage Intacct, the exhibit area on the floor, while they're in San Francisco.

Sage Intacct can talk to you about virtual CFO, and the high-value services, the eight keys to success, all the resources that you have available to them.  Thanks for your time today, Kevin, and I look forward to seeing you in San Francisco.