About KDP Certified Public Accountants
Since 1976, KDP Certified Public Accountants, LLP has been a multi-disciplined accounting firm. The partnership provides a full menu of accounting services, including tax compliance and planning, audit and assurance, business advisory, business valuation, and wealth management. Backed by more than 45 years of experience, KDP professionals use their expertise to offer inventive suggestions and insightful advice to grow and strengthen their clients and communities. With main offices in Boise, Idaho, and Medford, Oregon, and satellite offices nationwide, KDP’s 100 employees help more than 3,000 clients in almost 50 states.
The Digital Transformation Challenge
KDP Certified Public Accountants, LLP was founded in 1976 by former partner Daniel Kosmatka when he purchased Deloitte’s (formally Haskins & Sells) Medford office. In 2014, the firm merged with another large Southern Oregon-based CPA firm and became KDP Certified Accountants, LLP, effectively doubling in size and expanding its expertise and service offerings. In 2021, KDP became a member of the RSM US Alliance of independently owned CPA firms across the United States and Canada with global affiliations and also acquired the Boise firm of Whittaker & Associates, expanding its physical presence to Idaho. As part of this growth and change, KDP began a digital transformation initiative to explore how new technologies could enhance its products and services.
There was no better place to start than selecting a practice management software application for accounting practitioners. KDP needed software that would support expanded client accounts and customer-facing requirements, including the need for digital invoicing and flexible digital payments. KDP was using Wolters Kluwer ProSystem fx Suite, while Whittaker had CARET’s OfficeTools.
KDP briefly expanded the scope of its practice management software search to include Canopy Tax solutions but “did not want to introduce a new product to both sides of the equation,” says Dustin Poland, CPA, CFE and director of operations at KDP. “We already had OfficeTools champions in-house.” With that, CARET OfficeTools and APX got the nod.
Why OfficeTools + APX?
CARET’s OfficeTools is practice management software for accountants that tracks projects and workflows and combines seven industry-leading tax preparation software, such as Intuit Lacerte. Every firm member can track time, billing, projects, and documents in OfficeTools and view individual projects or the firm’s projects to make informed staffing decisions.
Users see a central screen to manage all aspects of the accounting practice with OfficeTools, such as automating billing and organizing client data, calendar events, due dates, tasks and tax workflows.
OfficeTools uses client portals to tie together documents, customer relationship management, billing, and scheduling. An integrated electronic signature tool combines workflow and document processes to increase speed and record audit trails. Users can capture billable time by launching timecards in OfficeTools with a pop-up timer or by making manual entries. They can also securely transfer documents and invoices to clients for signature and have them make online payments via APX, which was just the ticket for KDP.
The Slog: Paper-Based Billing
Before the Whittaker merger, KDP used a manual, paper-based billing operation. Every month the firm created invoices, printed them, and sent them out via USPS mail delivery.
“Paper-based billing was a drain on our cash turns. It took forever.”
The manual billing process sometimes meant it took 45 days to receive payment after invoices were printed and mailed. Clients had to process the paper in their accounts payable system and often returned paper checks in the mail. When follow-ups on delinquent payments are added in, collections can more than double the time it takes to get paid. While KDP did accept credit cards and ACH payments, it was not seamless and did not operate smoothly.
When CARET presented OfficeTools with APX functionality to automatically post client payments, it was a “no-brainer,” says Poland. The integrated payments feature accelerates remit times and provides real-time cash flow visibility to simplify back-office operations from invoicing to posting.
Another big selling point for KDP was the workflow options available in OfficeTools. OfficeTools workflows move through the OfficeTools program interface, allowing everyone to see everything from project status and budget to actual time estimates, all in real-time. Workflows allowed KDP to operate in multiple geographies while tracking and streamlining processes centrally for the tax return preparation process.
The Tax Practice Core: Client Work
Before OfficeTools, when a client came to KDP, staff opened a manila folder and placed all client documents and tax preparation materials in the folder with a paper checklist on top and a rubber band holding it all together. For a client to get an update on this file, someone intimate to the manual workflow needed to interrupt work, find the file and attend to the client’s request—an expensive proposition.
Today, when a customer comes to KDP, the firm receives the information and logs it into the project in OfficeTools. That process lets staff know who is servicing the client and the status of the file and enables partners and managers to know when they need to engage in the process to review the file. The front desk can answer the phone and inform clients of their file status, relieving partners and managers of fielding status updates.
More Than “Just Software”
“It was more about the partnership we created with OfficeTools, with contacts who listened to our issues and translated them into actions that made the product better and more accessible to the firm.”
Although there were initial challenges with the deployment of OfficeTools, KDP received valuable support and guidance from CARET. Subject matter experts from CARET provided recommendations to KDP on how to optimize the use of OfficeTools and also incorporated KDP’s feedback into product improvements that enhanced the overall efficiency and user adoption of the software.
“Most times when you license accounting software, you get only what you pay for—no more, no less,” says Poland. “With OfficeTools, we were able to provide feedback and see CARET implement change based on it.”
What Other Firms Should Know about OfficeTools + APX
KDP is deploying OfficeTools with APX in a phased rollout to eliminate all paper invoices and manual processing. The firm looks forward to it being a one-stop shop for clients, integrating online payments, CRM, public accounting and tax software, and client portals. Rolling out customer surveys in client portals, providing invoice history, and offering online payment options via APX that automate payment posting are some of the advantages of the system.