Automated workflow management software for accountants can optimize time, client satisfaction and financial success.

By Dan Griffiths, Partner at Tanner LLC and Lyle Ball, CEO and co-founder of Avii

As we embark upon 2021, the Accounting Software industry is perhaps more important – and also more challenged – than ever before. Yes, While the biggest issues of the COVID-19 pandemic are behind us, the 2021 tax season will be bearing the scars. We cover this in detail in our recent webinar, “The State of Accounting Software for 2021” here.

As we look at 2021, we see the challenges lining up in two ways: Inward facing and outward facing

In all, inward-facing issues are the biggest challenges accountants are facing in 2021. Here is where change management remains the primary goal, along with onboarding and training of new staff.

Client-facing challenges include expanding and elevating the customer experience as well as leveraging the growing importance of your ability to be a trusted advisor. These are the areas where streamlined processes and automated workflow management software for accountants can optimize time, client satisfaction and financial success.

As to what accountants are seeing: Many preparers see anything but smooth sailing in the offing, according to Accounting Today.

“I’m anticipating a very delayed tax season and probably not a very taxpayer-friendly one,” said Ryan Losi, executive vice president of accounting firm Piascik. “Many departments in the IRS are still not operating at full staff or are experiencing extreme delays in processing taxpayer information, such as payments made months ago or requests for information or amended returns that haven’t been processed.”

Already we are seeing IRS delays for 2020 payments, 2021 tax code and 2021 tax season deadlines. The CARES Act is facing delays for first draw forgiveness and other unknowns and the traffic load of processing second draw applications.

The reinstatement of the ability to carry back losses and amend prior year changes is an issue, along with possible or probable deadline changes and outages in the 2021 filing season.

Imagine the challenges presented by CARES act responses still in flux or in process at the end of 2020. These issues will have virtually all firms scrambling to handle the addition of amended prior year filings for many of their clients in addition to the challenges of meeting 2020 filing concerns.

In all, we will need to hang onto our hats.

Change Management is the theme for 2021

A challenged and disrupted 2021 tax season will further challenge the ability for firms to maximize their most strategic service and revenue opportunities: Audit and Advisory.

This will make Client Portal and Client Support more vital than ever before. This will also make every opportunity to coalesce and share business intelligence in a way that fulfills the role of trusted advisor is even more valued and important than ever before.

Streamlined Process, from Nose to Tail, will Help you Succeed

Creating an excellent Client experience can transform entire industries.

Streamlined customer interactions must allow the firm to support its clients from nose to tail, to meet customer expectations, ease the frustrations of an uncertain world and economy, as well as meet the efficiency needs that allow your firm to succeed.

How should your accounting workflow management software support you in this? Accountants must increasingly become trusted advisors as opposed to reporters of historical results.

From research, we know that accountants typically use an average of 20-plus disconnected software programs. But integration allows the accounting platform to serve as a sky bridge across all of the functions and programs today’s accounting firms need.

In all, the challenges for accounting systems in 2021 are significant – but conversely, they allow firms to benefit from the results of the system improvements you make. Now is the season for your firm to shine brighter than any year prior by bringing your best.

For firms who would like to know more, you can view our webinar, The State of Accounting Software for 2021, here. Or follow or contact Avii at

Dan Griffiths is a partner at Tanner LLC, a Salt Lake City-based CPA firm with 160 team members, where he leads the firm’s advisory service lines. Dan is a business coach and consultant and facilitates over 75 owner, board, and executive team retreats each year across various industries. He specializes in business strategy, strategic planning, digital transformation, and leadership development. From 2016 to 2020, he served as a member of the AICPA Board of Directors.

Lyle Ball is a Co-Founder and CEO of Avii. For the past 25 years, he has served as a senior executive and serial entrepreneur of high-growth software companies fueled by venture capital firms. Lyle’s operational background helped him envision how accounting firms can optimize their business and use automation to improve productivity, communication and revenue.

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