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April 30, 2008

UK mid-tier sets up forum to tackle IT challenges across profession

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

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