Time-Tracking Tips for Accounting Firms | Surgent CPE

The day before a deadline is not a good time to inform a CPA that they need more CPE hours to maintain certification. Yet many firms find themselves in these nail-biters. Even firms that think they have a system in place can stumble. These three simple tips keep your firm on track while yielding surprising benefits in attracting and retaining the kind of top talent that’s eager to learn and grow professionally.  

In fact, partnering with Surgent CPE adds that level of value to your continuing professional education strategy. Through Surgent, timely courses and state-of-the-art organizational tools save time and equip your CPAs to be their best for themselves and your clients. 

How to track CPE credits 

CPE tracking and reporting. Let’s just say it. Ugh. The timelines. The deadlines. The reporting requirements. Corralling all that documentation and proof.  

If you’re constantly mired in these challenges, it means you’re not spending productive time on high-level tasks that can enhance your firm’s competitiveness. It also means you could be causing unneeded aggravation to yourself and those around you. 

So, take a close look at your tracking system. Is it all it could be? Is it really even a system? These three tips help assure smooth CPE tracking.  

1. Save everything in one place 

Print. File folders. Remember those?  

There is a place for old-school but still effective filing systems that keep documentation at your fingertips. Imagine the ease of reaching for the information you need and finding it exactly where you left it. No logins, passwords or web searches required.  

Here’s how it works: 

  • Invest in a closable folder or envelope. You can find sets on Amazon for about $15. Why closable? Because print documents aren’t always uniformly sized. Closures keep the little calves from straying from the herd.  
  • Label it clearly. Maybe put a skull and crossbones on the front warning others not to touch it. 
  • Keep it in the same place — always. Open it to add certificates or other documentation but put it back where you found it.  

The point is to corral your trail of evidence for easy access. Keep all your proofs-of-purchase of seminars, conferences and other CPE access, so you can produce it when needed.  

Of course, you must also keep every CPE certificate. Here, think about all the online CPE sources you use. Do you find yourself scrambling to call up multiple websites and links at the end of your CPE reporting period? Once again, print to the rescue. File all printed certs, and if it’s not printed, print one yourself and add it to the folder.  

2. Keep a running list 

Your accountants are good at math, but you can’t read their minds if they’re basically doing the math in their heads to assess their CPE progress.  

A running list of credits earned put the math on view. At a glance, you and your CPAs can see what they have earned and what’s still needed in order to reach their goals. 

Stock the list with these entries: 

  • Event name 
  • Event location, including webinars and links 
  • Event provider  
  • Date of event or date of completion 
  • Field of study, if applicable 
  • Number of credits earned 
  • Running total of CPE credits for the current reporting period 

A list for every CPA in the firm lets you know at a glance where each stands. In addition, create a template for individuals to use, explaining that maintaining a list helps them take responsibility for their own progress and documentation. Make a case to leadership that CPE lists create efficiencies, and you might even get backing for a requirement that all CPAs track their own CPE status.  

3. Store it in the cloud 

The cloud is full of untapped possibilities, and it’s time to tap into them. Your running list offers maximum benefit when it’s always available, and the cloud makes it easy and free to keep it handy.  

A Google spreadsheet offers a simple vehicle for keeping everything together and on call. A few simple steps will get you started. Simply log in to Gmail or your other Google products, go to your Google Drive, select “New” and then select “Google Sheets.” Give the sheet a name, and it will auto-save as you add data.  

From there, you’ll have access to your Google spreadsheet from any web-connected device, for quickly checking credits earned, making updates and cross-checking the certificates stored in that folder or elsewhere offline. 

Of course, even managing documents stored in the cloud consumes your time with repetitive, swivel-chair tasks. An easier way to track your firm’s CPE credits is to partner with a company that can help track your associates’ hours for you. Surgent’s Firm CPE Portal provides instant access to detailed performance reports about your employees’ progress and lets you monitor the usage of your continuing education hours via a flex access program.

Surgent’s flex access program is a cost-effective and convenient option for firms with 10 or more CPAs. Time-saving and efficiency-generating features include: 

  • A bank of CPE credit hours that anyone in your firm can use. 
  • Users’ choice of live webinars and self-study CPE courses from a full catalog with the Surgent Firm CPE Portal. 
  • For administrators, usage tracking, compliance monitoring and the ability to add more flex access hours as needed. 

How Surgent can support your firm

Partnering with Surgent delivers exponential benefits, far beyond easing the essential but tedious task of tracking your employees’ CPE credits. Surgent CPE’s array of support options helps you leverage CPE mandates to keep your firm and associates on the cutting edge of the industry: 

  • Leading faculty. Surgent experts have won more than 500 CPE Speaker of the Year awards. 
  • More content. First-to-market with content on new tax laws and legislation. Surgent offers more than 1,500 CPE webcasts and adds at least 15 webinars to the online course catalog every month. 
  • All-in-one courses. Help your staff capture their new knowledge through all-in-one courses that enable immediate, practical application of their learning. 
  • Monthly webinar series. Informative monthly webinars package the latest industry updates with the knowledge your staff needs right now. 
  • Flexible bundles. Buy in bulk with three options for firms of all sizes. 

The dynamic Surgent course catalog presents some of the most diverse course offerings on the market. Surgent’s menu of access options helps the entire team and individuals learn on their time, at their convenience:

  • In-firm training. In-person or remote options allow for custom content from Surgent instructors. 
  • Live webinars. The convenience of online with the engagement of a classroom experience. 
  • Self-study. Downloadable PDFs and on-demand webcasts provide maximum flexibility for your associates.

Benefits of CPE courses with Surgent

Today’s most progressive CPA firms need to hire top talent, and today’s top talent want to grow into leaders, forging new paths in their fields

Surgent leads the field of CPE for accounting and financial professionals, ensuring that your professionals receive relevant, engaging, and up-to-date continuing education. Surgent helps your firm demonstrate its commitment to professional growth by developing a CPE strategy focused on: 

  • Attracting top talent. The best employees want to be even better. These in-demand people choose the employers that provide maximum growth potential. 
  • Improve retention. Research firmly concludes that learning and career development are crucial to employee retention. A classic 2018 study from LinkedIn revealed that 94 percent of employees would stay longer in companies that invest in their career development. 
  • Increased employee engagement. Employees steeped in regular learning and training feed their curiosity and find more opportunities to connect with their work and their employers. 
  • Business growth through deeper client relationships. When your people always have the latest findings from the superhighway of information, they become indispensable to clients. That’s a path to deeper relationships. 
  • Streamlined reporting on employee progress. Surgent’s platform provides live reports so managers can track CPE progress with confidence, while also freeing time that helps them concentrate on growing the professional capacities of their teams.   

Surgent builds your firm’s knowledge base

The burdens of CPE tracking can become all-consuming, detracting from potentially more productive efforts. Surgent makes CPE tracking systematic and efficient, whether you’re searching for certifications by topic such as Data Analytics or Excel, or you’re exploring Surgent’s new and exciting interactive gaming experiences. Surgent’s tools help your professionals develop skills that set them apart from their peers and put their careers on fast-forward. In the process, your firm gains a competitive edge as a provider of innovative solutions crafted from a wealth of emerging knowledge. 

Are you ready to explore how Surgent can help your organization? Contact us today to find out how Surgent CPE can provide your firm with the tools and resources your associates need to succeed.

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