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Mindset, Skillset, Toolset in Action

Posted By Samantha Zerr, Operations Accountant, Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The consultants at Boomer Consulting, Inc. spend a lot of time talking about the Mindsets, Skillsets and Toolsets needed by successful CPA firms. Recently, I had a chance to see these three principles in action while evaluating a new accounting software program.

Gary Boomer, Eric Benson and I were the team in charge of evaluating the new software program. Our discussions were uncharacteristically unproductive and frustrating. We were each coming from different places and having a hard time seeing one another’s viewpoints.

Fortunately, at our annual summit, where Gary mentioned “mindset, skillset, toolset,” we had an A-Ha moment.

  • Gary had the Mindset. He could see the software in place – up and running with everyone trained and using it to its fullest capabilities.
  • Eric was thinking about the Toolset. What software would be replaced and what were the implications? What sort of disruptions would this cause?
  • I considered my Skillset. As one of the primary users of this software, I knew I had the skills to use it effectively. I could see Gary’s vision, but I was having a hard time recognizing Eric’s point of view.

Once we realized why we were coming from three different directions, we spent an entire meeting talking through the issues. As we talked, with a new understanding of each other’s points of view, we got on the same wavelength.

The project is now moving along smoothly and we see the experience as a valuable opportunity to see the concept of “mindset, skillset, toolset” in action.

The next time you are having trouble getting on the same page with your team, consider whether “mindset, skillset, toolset” is at play in your group. Sometimes that little A-Ha moment makes all the difference.


 by Samantha Zerr

 Operations Accountant

 Boomer Consulting, Inc.


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The Importance of Recognition

Posted By Chelsea Roberts, Process Administrator, Friday, December 16, 2016

“People may take a job for more money, but they often leave it for more recognition.” – Bob Nelson

Part of my role at Boomer Consulting, Inc. includes knowing when our clients and employees win awards, have babies, retire, graduate or get promoted. We make a point of acknowledging these achievements with a card, email or some kind of recognition of the achievement or celebration. It’s a fun part of my job, but it’s also important because taking the time to congratulate coworkers, colleagues and associates on their achievements builds relationships and increases motivation.

Writing for Entrepreneur India, Rajeev Bhardwaj, VP of Human Resources for Sun Life Financial Asia Service Centre, says celebrating achievements can be a great PR opportunity. Whether you’re celebrating a milestone for your own organization, the successes of your own employees, or reaching out to clients and business partners,  Bhardwaj says including others in a celebration creates a sense of belonging.

Taking the time to recognize employees is not just a perk – it’s vital for engaging and retaining your staff. When people feel valued, their satisfaction and productivity increase and they’re more motivated to continue their good work.

If you’re reading this and thinking that you need to improve in this area, where do you start?

First, you need to put yourself in a receptive frame of mind, so you actually see and identify opportunities to recognize others.  Maintain a calendar of employee birthdays and work anniversaries, follow your clients on their social media channels, and encourage your staff to let you know when they learn about the achievements of their coworkers and clients.

Next, have a plan to recognize achievements. This doesn’t have to a big budget item. Sometimes a simple card, a shout out at the weekly staff meeting, or a mention in the company newsletter is enough to make people feel appreciated. Just do it as soon as possible after the announcement is made public, before the recipient has a chance to feel like their contributions have gone unnoticed.

Recognizing people for their good work sends a powerful message: you matter. People feel respected and valued when their contributions are appreciated. Take time to celebrate success, so people know you recognize their worth.


 by Chelsea Roberts

 Process Administrator

 Boomer Consulting, Inc.

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5 Ways to Advance Your Career at the Office Holiday Party

Posted By Heather Robinson, Marketing Manager, Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The office holiday party season is in full swing.  Who will dip their cup in the punch bowl one too many times? Who will take part in some terrible karaoke or over exuberant dance moves? If you want to keep yourself off the naughty list this year, instead of drinking too much and chatting up your friends, consider using the office holiday party as an opportunity to advance your career. Here are five tips to get you started.

Do your research

It’s tempting to spend the whole evening hanging out with your usual office friends but do some research before the party to find out who else will be there.  If your company uses Evite or Outlook to send invitations, you can usually start there to see who has RSVP’d.  Otherwise, consider asking the event organizer who is coming.

Target people to speak with

Once you have an idea of who will be there, make a short list of people to talk to that you normally don’t get to interact with. It might be the head of a department you do not work with often or just someone in the company that is doing good things. Now is your chance to casually rub elbows with the higher-ups, so don’t be afraid to approach them.

If you are nervous about approaching someone on your own, find an outgoing coworker ask him or her to make an introduction. However, introverts should resist the temptation to spend the entire event tagging along with a more outgoing person. Otherwise, the extrovert will be the only one making a lasting impression.

Find common ground

Nobody wants to spend the holiday party talking about work, so do a little research on the people you plan to speak with to learn more about their interests outside of work. Bios on the company’s website are a good place to start or you can check out their social media profiles.

Make sure you’re up on current events, but avoid topics that are controversial or depressing. Remember that the best conversationalists are ones who ask a lot of friendly questions.

Thank the hosts

A polite guest never neglects to thank the host or hostess, and the office holiday party is no exception. Sometime during the evening, seek out the Managing Partner or other members of the leadership team to thank them for hosting the event.

Don’t forget to follow up

When you are back at the office on Monday, follow-up with the people you spoke to, telling them how much you enjoyed their conversation and inviting them to grab lunch or coffee at a later date. Send them an interesting article on a topic you discussed or share another resource you think they’ll find useful.

Take advantage of the opportunity to establish relationships at the office holiday party. Connecting with colleagues, meeting new people, and networking like a pro will reflect favorably on you when it comes time for promotions.


 by Heather Robinson

 Marketing Manager

 Boomer Consulting, Inc.

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Managing Client Relationships

Posted By Jacqueline Ratzing, Project Manager, Friday, December 9, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, December 7, 2016

In a prior post, I talked about the importance of listening to the voice of your client to ensure you’re delivering services that are of value. But knowing what the client really wants and needs is just the beginning. From there, you need to continue managing the relationship; otherwise, you could end up undoing any progress made.


Anthropologist Robin Dunbar theorized that humans can comfortably maintain only 150 stable relationships. Consider that the average Facebook user has about 338 friends, and you can begin to understand why we might need some help organizing client relationships.

Invest time early on to save time later. Collect and store meaningful client information in a comprehensive CRM system.  To be effective, the database must be current, accessible, and actionable. Whatever you do, make sure you have a “master” list. Contacts spread out amongst a handful of systems and files is the fastest way for you – and your clients – to become disorganized and frustrated.


Before the internet, if you wanted to speak to a client, you picked up the phone. Today, there are so many ways to communicate. Email, newsletters, phone calls, text, Google Hangout, Twitter, Slack. The list goes on, but not every method is right for every client.

Communication is about making it easy for clients to do business with you.  Discuss with your clients the best way to stay in contact. Give them the opportunity to tell you the best way to reach them, and never assume that one method works for everyone.

Realistic promises and managed expectations

Managing expectations may be the single most important aspect of maintaining healthy client relationships. Reputations are everything, so be honest about what you can deliver. It’s okay to underpromise and over deliver. If you know it will be a stretch to complete a tax return by Friday, you’re better off promising the return by Monday and delivering it early rather than missing a deadline.

Also, be clear with the client about what you’ll need from them to get your job done. For instance, say you have audit fieldwork scheduled to begin on a Monday, but in the week leading up to your start date you still don’t have a trial balance or anything else necessary to prepare. Rather than keeping quiet, showing up on Monday and hoping for the best, discuss your needs list with the client and reschedule fieldwork if necessary.

Proactively managing clients builds stronger relationships and supports cross- and up-selling of services. But this can only happen if client relationships become an integral part of day-to-day operations. Take the time now to listen to learn about your clients’ needs and manage your communications with them – before your clients have time to think of looking elsewhere.


By Jacqueline Ratzing

Project Manager

Boomer Consulting, Inc.

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Types of Flex Work Arrangement

Posted By Arianna Campbell, Consultant, Wednesday, December 7, 2016

In a previous post, I shared seven trends impacting flexible work arrangements. So now that you’ve concluded you need to offer flexible work options for your staff, what’s next?

Flexible work arrangements are not a one-size-fits-all solution. In fact, there are nine types of flexible work arrangements.


Flextime involves giving staff flexibility on the start and finish times of their working day, typically with a mandatory “core” time in the middle of the day.

Compressed Work Week

A compressed work week allows employees to work 40 hours in fewer than five days, such as working four 10-hour days.


Flexplace is often referred to as telecommuting. Employees may work from home or another remote location on an approved schedule, either for a certain number of hours or days a week, or 100% of the time.

Job Sharing

In job sharing, two or more employees split one position and split necessary work hours between them.

Work Sharing

Often used by companies as a method of avoiding layoffs. The company temporarily reduces hours and salary for a portion of the staff while maintaining the number of employees.

Expanded Leave

Expanded leave gives employees greater flexibility for requesting extended periods of time away from work without losing their rights as employees. Extended leave can be granted on a paid or unpaid basis and may be used for a variety of reasons, including sabbaticals, higher education, community service, family issues, or medical care.

Phased Retirement

The employee and the firm agree on a schedule to gradually reduce the employee’s full-time work commitments. Their responsibilities may be phased out over a period of months or years.

Partial Retirement

Older employees are allowed to continue working on a part-time basis, with no predetermined end date.

Work and Family Programs

Employers provide some assistance to their employees to help with child care and elder care, such as on-site child care facilities.

Choosing the flexible work arrangement(s) that work for your firm can seem tricky, but taking a systematic approach to implementing your program can narrow down the list of options that will most benefit your firm and employees. Consider using a focus group or a sample survey to figure out which options your staff needs. You may even consider a pilot program to test your options and see if the program needs tweaking.

Remember that flexibility doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing program. It can be a gradual process. Chances are, you’re already providing some informal flexible work arrangements for certain employees who need to leave early on certain days or work from home on occasion. Now, you just need to take the next step to formalize the policy and extend it to all staff members.


By Arianna Campbell
Boomer Consulting, Inc.



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4 Questions to Prevent Mind Stray in Meetings

Posted By Deanna Perkins, Solutions Advisor, Friday, December 2, 2016

We’ve all been there: sitting in a meeting that may or may not be necessary, but our mind is 1,000 miles away, thinking about the mountain of ‘real’ work waiting for us once the meeting is over. There may be some truth to the old saying, “If you want to kill time, the meeting is the perfect weapon.” Yet there are times when meetings are productive and valuable, and you do need to be there – mentally and physically. Before you send or accept your next meeting invitation, ask these four questions.

Is it necessary?

A 2014 piece from Harvard Business Review made a case for three fundamental reasons to hold a meeting (outside of general relationship building):

  1. To inform and bring people up to speed.
  2. To seek input from people.
  3. To ask for approval.

If the meeting serves none of these goals, it probably doesn’t need to happen.

Who needs to be there?

Every person in attendance at a meeting should be a resource, able to contribute through knowledge, experience or both. Some people are prone to falling into the trap of attending meetings just to feel important, but ask yourself this question, “If I was sick, would this meeting have to be rescheduled?” If the meeting could go on just fine without your presence, you probably don’t need to be there.

What’s on the agenda?

If the agenda is in someone’s head, it’s a problem. An agenda should be set in writing and shared with all participants. The more detail, the better. Consider allocating a set number of minutes to each agenda item, and make sure to stick with it during the meeting.

When participants know what’s on the agenda before the meeting, they have time to prepare for the meeting, can choose to attend only sections that are vital for them, and are more likely to stay engaged and present.

How long does it need to be?

Consider this: TED talks are inspiring, educational, informative and never last longer than 18 minutes. The short length is one of the reasons behind their success. We have a tendency to schedule meetings in hour-long blocks – maybe it just looks tidier on our calendars. But remember Parkinson’s law: “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” Change the default length of all meetings to 15 minutes, scheduling longer when necessary, and you may be surprised at how much gets accomplished in a much shorter period.

Once you’ve determined the necessary length of time to fulfill the meeting’s purpose, make sure you start and end on time. This simple rule will help you gain favor with your colleagues because it shows you respect their time.



By Deanna Perkins
Solutions Advisor
Boomer Consulting, Inc.





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The Future of the Profession at QB Connect

Posted By Michael Wherry, CPA, Consultant, Monday, November 21, 2016

A few weeks ago I attended QB Connect, where I took in the keynote address from Intuit CEO Brad Smith. Smith discussed five trends for the future of the profession, all of which signaled to me that the profession as we know it is being changed by technology.



Our clients are looking for answers, and many of them are becoming increasingly comfortable with posting their questions on social media. How can firms update their marketing strategies to take advantage of social media?


We counsel our Lean Clients to listen to the voice of your customers (internal and external). Following your clients (and potential clients) on social media is an excellent way to listen to that voice. Your internal customers (employees) may be understandably nervous about giving out advice on social media. But perhaps firms can train someone to engage clients on social media, laying the foundation for in-person conversations on more complex topics.



Intuit is using the mass amount of data that is stored within all their products to help make their products better. From coding of transactions to helping improve margin to helping look for cash via different lending options. My big takeaway was that we are closer to a big change in how we audit financial statements than we are probably ready for. Firms should dedicate resources to figuring out how they can leverage technology to help make their audits more future-ready.



BrightHub defines open source technology as “the production and development philosophy of allowing end users and developers to not only see the source code of software, but modify it as well.” Most platforms and software used by firms today are not very open. Smith predicts that this will change in the not so distant future, allowing developers to bring products to market that help accountants do their jobs easier. Think working smarter not harder.



Next year is the ten year anniversary of the iPhone launch. Think about what will be possible in the next ten years. How can we integrate with clients mobile devices to help us communicate with them? If we can buy a home using a mobile device and electronic signatures, why can't we do the same with tax returns? What do our clients want? We need to be ready to use these new technologies so that we don't lose clients simply because we make it harder to do business.



With everything moving digital, security is one of the most important things firms need to consider. More people are getting comfortable with the idea that the "cloud" is safe, or at least just as safe as our "regular networks." However, we need to monitor this continually to stay current.


Our profession continues to be challenged and changed by technology, with no signs of slowing down. Lean Six Sigma helps firms manage change by addressing the two critical why questions; why do we need to change and why will this idea be better? With the pace of technological change, we need to recognize that we might not have a choice about answering the first why question; why do we need to change? Focusing on two lean principles - continuous improvement and customers define value - can help you answer the second why question; why will this new technology be better? The concept of continuous improvement helps us focus on improving our processes and adapt them to technology. Matching your processes, technology and the voice of your customer will put you best position with your clients rather than being the victim of that change.


By Michael Wherry, CPA
Boomer Consulting, Inc.




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How are Firms Calculating ROI for Technology Spend?

Posted By by Marc Staut, MCP, MCSA, MCTS and Jim Boomer, CPA, CITP, MBA, Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Every day, accounting firm partners and IT Directors face decisions about investing in IT projects. Often, there are more opportunities or projects than a firm can reasonably expect to devote their limited time and financial resources toward. Do firms choose their areas of investment by looking at which ones will give the greatest return in a relevant timescale? What about intangible benefits that cannot be quantified by traditional ROI calculations?

How do Chief Information Officers make those decisions?

Return on Investment (ROI) is a commonly used calculation in the business world for deciding which projects to invest in, but often we see accounting firms use ROI calculations as excuses for why necessary change cannot happen.

In fact, no standard measurement can be applied to every situation or project. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are a crucial business tool for tracking and measuring successes, but not always the most useful metric for judging the efficacy of IT investments. The soft benefits of IT projects cannot always be measured, yet they may be just as important in determining quality or success. Sometimes, the best tool available for measuring a project’s impact is simply experience.

Having the proper IT governance structure in place can help your firm keep up with the changing landscape of technology and ensure that technology decisions are made in support of the firm’s goals and objectives. A critical component of creating alignment between strategy and technology is giving your CIO a seat at the management table.

CIOs bring a different perspective to management. They may not be tied to legacy decisions or systems that are no longer optimal for the firm (if they ever were), so they can more easily recognize opportunities for improvement, develop new services and revenue streams and integrate technology as a strategic advantage.

Here, we interviewed three CIOs from firms across the country to learn more about how they calculate ROI for technology spend and other factors they take into consideration when making decisions about opportunities and projects.

Download the white paper by clicking - HERE

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Voice of the Customer: Assumptions or Actuality?

Posted By Jacqueline Ratzing, Project Manager, Tuesday, November 15, 2016

In Lean Six Sigma, we talk a lot about the “voice of the customer” (VoC). The VoC is a process used to capture the requirements/feedback from a customer to provide them with the best in class service or product quality. It is all about being proactive and innovating in capturing the requirements that may change over time.

In manufacturing, where Six Sigma originated, capturing the voice of the customer happens in a variety of ways: surveys, focus groups, customer specifications, warranty data, complaint logs, etc. In an accounting firm, how often do we make assumptions about what our clients consider excellent client service?

The Assumptions

How many of these sound familiar:

  • Your client has a complicated tax question. Rather than call to discuss the issue with them, you send a five-page email detailing the issues involved and the possible outcomes based on different scenarios. The client calls you back to discuss it, unable to process the information overload included in your email.
  • You meet with a potential new client needing bookkeeping and tax planning assistance. You go into the meeting and tell them exactly what services you’ll perform and what deliverables you’ll provide because that’s the way you do things. The client’s actual needs and expectations never come up.
  • A long-term client receives the same services, schedules and communications that they’ve received for a decade. Their needs and preferences may have changed, but this is the way we’ve always done it, so we keep going.

The Antidote

Few accounting firms have a formalized program for collecting customer feedback, and if they do, it’s typically reactive rather than proactive. That’s why it’s so important to have conversations with your client to find out exactly what services they value and how you can best deliver them.

Your first real conversation with a new client should involve asking them exactly what they are looking for, rather than informing them of what you plan to deliver.

For long-term clients, you should set a goal of doing an annual recap to find out if the service you’ve been providing still meets their needs. Don’t beat around the bush. Ask them directly, “Do you still find value in this?”

Make assumptions about what our clients want and need often leads to a disconnect between the value we believe we’re providing and the value our clients feel they’re receiving. So take a look. Challenge some of the assumptions you’re making about what your clients want. You may find the actual voice of the customer sounds a little different from the one you heard in your head.

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while or the light won’t come in.” – Isaac Asimov

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Insights from the 2016 Boomer Technology Circles™ Summit

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Our BTC communities met in Kansas City during August, always an exciting opportunity to connect with old and new members alike. We value these opportunities to listen to presentations from some of the most knowledgeable minds in the industry and take part in authentic learning and relationship building.

Every chance to meet with these high-performing firms brings trends and topics that are common amongst firms of all sizes. Here, we’ve highlighted and summarized some of the conversations going on right now.

     1. Technology and Security

Cybersecurity is at the top of most firms’ priority list and despite efforts to secure data and physical locations, the number one risk is people and their decisions. Security awareness training for your team is imperative. Member firms REDW and Perkins & CO shared their strategies for ensuring that new and existing staff are sufficiently trained and finally stop clicking on suspicious links! Security training can’t be limited to the onboarding process or just an hour a year. It needs to be continuous and include temps and independent contractors.

Of course, everyone wants to talk tech: cloud computing, mobile, integration, automation, security and strategy. We discussed the latest trends and what is available today.  How do you balance maintaining security while deploying tools to enable your team to do their work? How can firms determine which options are the best fit considering needs as well as costs?

2. Firm Culture

Creating a positive firm culture is essential to building your brand. After all, your people are your brand. We discussed three simple steps to help firms positively impact culture, incorporate the one thing that makes people want to do business with your company and take community involvement past ‘giving back’ to make a significant impact.

3. Optimizing Buy-In to Process Improvement

The status quo is no longer acceptable in today's CPA firm. Technology and the external economic environment continue to evolve and change rapidly –those that don’t get on board with change and process improvement will rapidly fall behind. Dustin Hostetler of Boomer Consulting, Inc. facilitated a workshop to help participants develop strategies for optimizing buy-in at all levels of the firm, including the all-important partner level.

4. Data Analytics

Firms collect a lot of data about clients and employees. How can we transform that data into a powerful decision-making tool? Steve Mustafa, Director of Business Systems & Marketing at The Siegfried Group and Valerie Musial, Project Manager at Habif Arogeti & Wynne, LLP shared how their firms have started the process of leveraging technology to extract key insights and make them easily accessible through dashboards. We also discussed KPIs and how those metrics help in decision making and measurement.

5. Using Technology to Automate Processes

As technology becomes more sophisticated, the opportunities to automate manual tasks increase immensely.  From expense reimbursement to bill pay, cloud technologies are allowing us to automate several tasks that add little value from the client’s perspective, yet require a lot of time and resources.

In a collaborative discussion, we dove a little deeper into the automation of client risk management. One of the highest risk activities is taking on a new client. Yet, we have limited tools to manage and limit our exposure to risk during the onboarding phase. Independence and confilicts of interest checks are often handled by a combination of discussions and spreadsheets, leaving us open to errors and oversight.  We learned about tools that can help your firm avoid missing out on lucrative client relationships and lay the path to business success.

6. HR Innovation

In an open Q&A session, participants asked questions of Christina Ricke, Principal, Mary Alyce Taylor, Talent Advisor, and Shanna Fowler-Lambing, Talent Advisor of K ·Coe Isom. Participants asked the questions concerning all firms today: onboarding, benefits, performance management, training and retention.

7. Future-Ready Firms


The term “future-ready firm” is thrown around a lot, but what does it really mean? Dave Bufkin, CIO of Horne and Marc Staut of Boomer Consulting, Inc. asked “What Makes a Firm Future Ready?” and “How Future Ready is Your Firm?”  They took a look at some past predictions for the Future CIO role and compared them to the skills and mindsets necessary for today’s technology leaders.  We introduced and discussed a new set of survey questions  that helped members gauge where their firm is in regards to Growth, Processes, Talent, Technology and Leadership.


8. Culture of Success

Author, Entrepreneur and Motivationalist Steven J Anderson joined us to share his insights on how to build a true culture of success.  Taking lessons from his recently published book The Culture of Success, the audience discovered the 10 natural laws that are at the heart of creating a culture that will strengthen your firm.  Fun, energizing and inspiring were the words from our audience. 


9. NextGen Wisdom

Twenty NextGen leaders met to discuss the future of our profession and how they believe it will affect our practices and their lives. They evaluated the areas of Leadership, Talent, Process, Growth and Technology, and several breakout groups built their future ready firm. The good news: a future ready firm is not only possible, it is probable.  


10. Lean Circle Key Take Away

Many people confuse "Lean" with just being a productivity initiative. While productivity is a key benefit of implementing lean projects, the vast majority of firms in the Lean Circle have found that a culture shift is just as important. The days of being content with the status quo are long gone. Today's leading firms understand that change is a part of everyday business – and that all levels of the organization need to be committed to continuous improvement – for the client, the firm and themselves. The culture of continuous improvement inside an organization is very, very powerful.

An Invitation to Participate in The Boomer Technology Circles™

Our next round of meetings will be November 14 – 17, 2016 at the InterContinental in Kansas City, MO.  To learn more about the Boomer Technology Circles community, please visit

About The Boomer Technology Circles™

A core principle of all of our communities is that professionals who share best practices and lessons learned are best-prepared to benefit from the rapid changes in our profession. The Boomer Technology Circle™ communities help firms “bridge the gap” between technology and practice management while accelerating firm growth through facilitated discussions, peer-to-peer networking and ongoing collaboration through our online communities. Learn more about the Boomer Technology Circles™ by visiting

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