UK mid-tier firms have joined forces to better collaborate on
industry-wide IT issues. IT directors from 12 firms took part in a
forum this month to define and address IT challenges accounting
firms are currently facing.

PKF IT director Jim Greenfield approached colleagues from other
accounting practices to assess the need and enthusiasm for a
dedicated accountancy IT group.

He said members will have the ability to discuss issues, receive
presentations by IT suppliers and surveys on IT issues.

“In order to try and persuade the suppliers to deal with the
issues that affect us most, a more co-ordinated response is
required,” Greenfield said. “Something that came up at the first
meeting is that quite often we will all have the same issues with
the same particular software or the same particular supplier but we
are each going back to them independently and not realising that
firms have got similar issues or the same issues.”

Organisers predict the forum will grow in size and stature
gradually but it will be restricted to the top 50 firms.

“We are trying to control the group at the moment where its size
is such that we can have round-table meetings face-to-face,”
Greenfield added. “Whether in the future we move to larger
conference-style meetings remains to be seen, but for the moment
the objective is to have people sit round a table, contributing,
sharing and so on.”

The next IT meeting is set for 16 July and will focus on
security.

Greenfield said: “If a firm is identified as having weak
security then it can actually damage all accountancy firms because
the industry gets looked on in that way. Security is something that
does not particularly give a firm a competitive advantage, so
hopefully all firms should have good security. If we can share
information, share ideas and share resolutions that essentially
benefit everybody, it could save time and money.”

Nicola Maher