100 quick technology tips

Technologies such as Excel help accountants work smarter and faster, but even greater efficiency is available to those who learn to use tech tools more effectively.
100 quick technology tips

Accountants are always looking for ways to do more and better work in less time. Technology tools are great aids in that quest, but they can do even more if you know the right techniques. To celebrate CIMA's centenary, FM magazine is pleased to present 100 tips and tricks for better leveraging technologies such as Microsoft Excel (some features are available only in the latest Microsoft Office and Windows versions).

Excel quick tips

1. Hide zero values. Including many zero values in your data can be distracting. To easily hide zero values, go to the File tab, Options, Advanced, and uncheck Show a zero in cells that have zero value.

2. Delete blank rows. You may have a spreadsheet with blank rows that are spread throughout the worksheet. Instead of deleting each blank row individually, you can delete all blank rows at once. For this to work, your header rows must be on the first row of the spreadsheet. Select the entire columns that contain your data by clicking on the letters at the very top of the columns. On the Data tab, Sort & Filter group, select Filter. Click the drop-down arrow on the right side of the first column of your data, uncheck (Select All), and check (Blanks). If any numbers are still visible, go to the second column of your data and repeat the step above. Continue to repeat the steps for each column until no data appear. Select the filtered rows and go to the Home tab, Cells group, and select Delete. On the Data tab, Sort & Filter group, select Clear.

3. Name a cell or range of cells. A cell or a range of cells can be given a name in Excel. You can reference the name in your formulas and functions rather than trying to remember or find a specific cell or range of cells. To do this, highlight the cell or range of cells that should be named, then type the name in the Name Box (the box to the left of the formula bar). Click Enter.

4. Instantly select an entire table or data range. To instantly select an entire table or data range, click anywhere within the table or data range and press Ctrl+A.

5. AutoSum shortcut. To quickly sum a list of values, select the cell at the bottom of a vertical list of values or to the right of a horizontal list of values and press Alt+=, then Enter.

6. Quickly foot and crossfoot. AutoSum can be used to insert sum formulas that total all columns and rows at the same time. Highlight a table of data, plus one additional row below and one additional column to the right of the data. Click the AutoSum button or press Alt+=.

7. Transpose data. Sometimes you need data that are organised horizontally to be vertical, and vice versa. To do this, copy the data and place your cursor in the first cell you want the data to be pasted. On the Home tab of the ribbon, select Paste from the Clipboard group, then select Paste Special. Check Transpose, then click OK.

8. Sort data based on colour. Sorting data in Excel is not limited to sorting based on cell values. Data can also be sorted based on cell colour and font colour. To do this, select the data to be sorted. On the Home ribbon tab, select Sort & Filter from the Editing group, then select Custom Sort. Ensure that My data has headers is checked if headers were included in your selection. In the Sort by drop-down list, choose the column on which you want to sort. In the Sort On drop-down list, choose Cell Color or Font Color. In the Order drop-down list, choose the colour you want shown first. Next, click Add Level located at the top left of the Sort window. Complete the same steps as above for the second colour that should be shown, and so on until you have instructed Excel on the order in which to sort all cell colours or font colours.

9. Quickly resize a column to fit contents. You may have data in a cell that is much shorter than, or too long to fit in, the default width of a column. Instead of trying to manually adjust the width of the column to get the right size, double-click the boundary between two column headers (eg, the line between the A and the B for the first and second columns), and the column size for the column to the left will be perfectly sized to accommodate the cell with the longest text.

10. Extract characters from the left of a text string. You may need to extract a portion of data to the left of a text string. For example, you may need to extract the area code of a phone number. Use the function LEFT(Text, Num_chars). For Text, reference the cell that contains the text string. For Num_chars, enter the number of characters to the far left of the text string to extract. Click OK.

11. Extract characters from the right of a text string. You may need to extract a portion of data to the right of a text string. For example, you may need to extract the last four digits of a National Insurance number. Use the function RIGHT(Text, Num_chars). For Text, reference the cell that contains the text string. For Num_chars, enter the number of characters from the far right of the text string to extract. Click OK.

12. Extract characters in the middle of a text string. You may need to extract a portion of data in the middle of a text string. For example, you may need to extract digits in the middle of a product number. Choose the function MID(Text, [Start_num], [Num_chars]). For Text, reference the cell that contains the text string. For Start_num, enter the position of the first character to extract (eg, if you wanted to start extracting at the fourth character in a text string, the Start_num would be 4). For Num_chars, enter the number of characters from the Start_num of the text string to extract. Click OK.

13. Merge multiple cells into one text string. You may need to combine data from various cells into one text string in one cell. You can also include spaces, symbols, etc, in the new text string you are creating. Choose the function CONCATENATE (Text1, Text 2, etc). For Text1, enter the cell reference, text, or any other characters for the beginning of the text string. For Text2, enter the cell reference, text, or other characters for the next part of the text string, and so on. For example, if you had a first name in cell A1 and a last name in cell B1, and you wanted to combine the first and last name into one cell with a space separating the two, you would reference cell A1 for Text1, enter a space (in quotes) for Text2, and reference cell B1 for Text3: CONCATENATE (A1," ",B1).

14. Hide/unhide worksheets. To hide a worksheet, right-click on the tab of the worksheet (located at the bottom of the Excel workbook) and select Hide. To unhide a worksheet, right-click on any tab of the worksheet, select Unhide, then choose which sheet to unhide.

15. Hide/unhide columns/rows. To hide columns or rows in a worksheet, select the columns or rows to be hidden, right-click within those rows or columns, and select Hide. To unhide columns or rows in a worksheet, select the columns or rows surrounding the hidden columns or rows, right-click within those columns or rows, and select Unhide.

16. Copy visible cells only. You may have a spreadsheet with hidden rows and/or columns but want to copy only the cells that are visible. To do this, click F5, Special, Visible cells only, OK. Then press Ctrl+C to copy.

17. Sum data from various places on a spreadsheet. You may need to sum values that are not all listed together in a spreadsheet. You can sum these values, but you cannot use the AutoSum shortcut or the AutoSum tool. Choose the function SUM. For Number1, select a cell or range of cells that will be included as part of the total. For Number2, select another cell or range of cells that will be included as part of the total. Continue for Number3, if needed, and so on until you capture all numbers that should make up the sum. Click OK. Example: SUM(A2,C9:C12,E5).

18. Instantly copy a formula to multiple rows. Many of the formulas we use are intended to work for multiple rows of data. In that case, when a formula is added to your first row of data, that formula needs to be copied down to all rows of data. Instead of grabbing the Fill Handle (the solid green box that appears in the bottom right corner of a cell when it is selected) and dragging all the way down, it is easier and quicker to simply double-click the Fill Handle. This will work if the cells in the column to the left of the copied formulas are not empty.

19. Freeze panes. When you have a large spreadsheet with titles for the columns and rows, it becomes difficult to know which cell you are viewing if you have scrolled where you can no longer see the column and/or row titles. To keep the column and row titles on the screen, select the cell below the first column title and to the right of the first row title. On the View tab, select Freeze Panes from the Window group, then select Freeze Panes.

20. Visually represent your data using Sparklines. Sparklines are small charts that fit in a single cell and are used to visually represent your data (see cells G3:G5 in the screenshot below). Select the cell or cells where you would like the Sparkline(s). On the Insert tab, within the Sparklines group, choose Line, Column, or Win/Loss. Select the data to be included in the Sparkline(s).


21. Instantly convert a range of data into a table.
To convert a range of data into a table, click anywhere within the range of data and press Ctrl+T.

22. Convert a table into a range of data. To convert a table into a range of data, click anywhere within the table and right-click. Select Table, then Convert to Range.

23. Instantly chart a range of data. To chart a range of data, click anywhere within the range of data and press Alt+F1.

24. Switch between formulas and values. You can easily view your formulas by pressing Ctrl+` (grave accent). This will allow you to view all formulas. Clicking it again will switch you back to viewing values.

25. Change the case of text to all uppercase. To change text to all uppercase, click the cell where you would like the uppercase text to appear. Choose the function UPPER(Text). For Text, select the cell that contains the text to be converted. Then copy the formula down for all text.

26. Change the case of text to all lowercase. To change text to all lowercase, click the cell where you would like the lowercase text to appear. Choose the function LOWER(Text). For Text, select the cell that contains the text to be converted. Then copy the formula down for all text.

27. Change the case of text to capitalise the first letter of each word and all other letters to lowercase. To change the text to capitalise the first letter of each word and make all other letters lowercase, click the cell where you would like the converted text to appear. Choose the function PROPER. For Text, select the cell that contains the text to be converted. Then copy the formula down for all text.

28. Disable AutoCorrect one time for one situation. AutoCorrect can be very useful for fixing unintentional grammatical errors. However, sometimes Excel will continue "correcting" something that is not an error and should not be changed. You can instruct Excel to stop "correcting" this temporarily by typing the word, hitting the spacebar once, then clicking Undo or pressing Ctrl+Z.

29. Disable AutoCorrect permanently for one situation. You can instruct Excel to stop "autocorrecting" a word permanently by going to File, Options, Proofing. Select AutoCorrect Options and scroll down to find the word that Excel is autocorrecting. Click on the word and choose Delete. Click OK.

30. Create a Text Box. To create a text box, go to the Insert tab, Text group, and select Text Box. Left-click on the mouse and drag to create the borders of the text box. You can then type text inside the text box.

31. Convert formulas to values. To convert formulas to values, select all formulas or the entire worksheet or workbook and press Ctrl+C to copy. On the Home tab, Clipboard group, select Paste, then select Paste Special. Select Values, then click OK. Or, after copying, press Shift+F10+V.

32. Insert a line break within a cell. You may need to have multiple lines within a cell. For example, a heading for an income statement should include the company name, below that, the text "Income Statement", and below that, the ending period. To have all three rows within one cell, you must insert a line break after each line of data by pressing Alt+Enter.

33. Find and replace. Find and replace has many useful abilities, such as finding a misspelled word and replacing it throughout an entire worksheet; using a shortened word while creating a spreadsheet and replacing it with the long version when you are done; reusing a worksheet for a new client and instantly replacing the name; etc. Press Ctrl+H. Enter what you want to find in Excel next to Find what: (eg, old client name), then enter what you want the found data to be replaced with next to Replace with: (eg, new client name).

34. Display Excel with no gridlines. You can remove the gridlines from your Excel worksheet by going to the View tab, Show group, and unchecking Gridlines.

35. Add filters to your data. To add filters to your data, select the data to be filtered. On the Home tab, Editing group, select Sort & Filter, then Filter.

36. Quickly switch between different Excel files. To quickly switch between different Excel files, press Ctrl+Tab.

37. Customise Quick Access Toolbar. The Quick Access Toolbar is at the very top left side of Excel (unless you have moved it). By default, the Quick Access Toolbar includes an icon to Save, Undo, and Redo. Click the drop-down arrow to the far right of the Redo icon, and you can customise this Quick Access Toolbar by adding or removing icons.

38. Customise status bar. The status bar is at the very bottom of Excel. By default, the status bar includes many status settings, including showing the Average, Count, and Sum of the data selected. These statistics can be very useful. If you right-click on the status bar, you can customise it to show more or fewer statistics and adjust other status features.

39. Preserve leading zeros. If you enter a number in Excel that begins with one or more zeros, Excel will delete the leading zeros. To keep the leading zeros, add a single quote in front of the first zero, and Excel will preserve the leading zeros, though it will treat the entry as text rather than a number.

40. Recover an unsaved workbook. Excel will autosave your Excel workbooks (by default, every ten minutes). If you have not previously saved your workbook and then close the workbook by mistake or if your computer closes without the workbook being saved, you can recover the document. Go to File, Open, Recent Workbooks, Recover Unsaved Workbooks, and choose the file that was closed before it was saved.

41. Instantly create a PivotTable without learning about PivotTables. PivotTables are extremely useful tools, but if you have not yet had the chance to learn how to create one, Excel may be able to do all the work for you. Select the data to be included in the PivotTable, go to the Insert tab, Tables group, and select Recommended PivotTables. If there are enough data, Excel will give you some options of PivotTables to choose from.

42. Import a table from the web into Excel. You can import a table from the web into an Excel workbook. Go to the Data tab, Get & Transform Data group, and select From Web. Enter the URL of the webpage containing the table when prompted and click OK. Choose the desired table from the Navigator window and click Load.

43. New workbook shortcut. To open a new workbook, press Ctrl+N.

44. New worksheet shortcut. To create a new worksheet, press Shift+F11.

45. Select all cells in a spreadsheet. To select all cells in an Excel worksheet, click the triangle to the top left of the spreadsheet located between column A and row 1.

46. Ensure your Excel workbook is accessible to people with certain disabilities. Various disabilities can cause a person to have difficulty comprehending certain content. Making content accessible is about improving characteristics of content that could otherwise limit a person's comprehension. Excel can check your Excel workbook for accessibility. Go to File, Info, Check for Issues, Check Accessibility. Excel will then provide the results, which can include errors, warnings, and/or tips, or confirmation that your content is accessible.

47. Repeat the last action. You can repeat the last action you did in Excel by pressing Ctrl+Y. This is a much more efficient way of doing something in Excel that needs to be done repeatedly.

48. Perform the same action to a group of consecutive worksheets simultaneously. If you need to perform the same action to multiple worksheets in your Excel workbook, you can group worksheets and perform that action only once. Left-click on the tab of the first worksheet to include, hold down the Shift key, and left-click on the last worksheet to include. You have now made those worksheets a group. Go to any of the worksheets and perform the desired action. You will see that action has been performed on all worksheets that were included in the group. When you are done, right-click on any of the worksheets in the group and select Ungroup Sheets.

49. Perform the same action to a group of nonconsecutive worksheets simultaneously. If you follow the instructions in the previous tip but use the Ctrl key instead of the Shift key, you can group individual worksheets that aren't next to one another.

50. Analyse components of a formula. Sometimes you need to analyse your formulas, possibly because you are getting an error message. One way to do this is by using a feature in Excel that shows you all the cells that are being used in the calculation of the formula. Click on the cell that contains the formula you want to analyse. Go to the Formulas tab, Formula Auditing group, and select Trace Precedents. This will display a blue arrow from all cells that are included in the formula.

51. Produce random numbers. To produce a list of random numbers, click in the cell that will contain your first random number. Use the function RANDBETWEEN. For the Bottom, enter the lowest number in the range of random numbers (eg, if you wanted numbers between 1 and 100, 1 would be the Bottom). For Top, enter the highest number in the range of numbers (100 for the previous example). Drag that formula down (or across) as many times as needed to get the number of random numbers needed.

52. Remove duplicates. A dataset can have duplicate entries, such as a customer accidentally listed twice in a CRM database. To eliminate duplicate information, select the data you want checked for duplicates and go to the Data tab, Data Tools group, and select Remove Duplicates. Select all the columns you want Excel to check for duplicates (be careful only selecting something like last name when you could have multiple customers with the same last name). Click OK.

53. Quickly insert today's date. To insert today's date in your Excel worksheet, press Ctrl+; (semicolon).

54. Quickly insert current time. To insert the current time in your Excel worksheet, press Ctrl+Shift+; (semicolon).

55. Format as numbers to include two decimal places, thousands separator, and a minus sign for negative values. To format as numbers to include two decimal places, a thousands separator, and a minus sign for negative values, press Ctrl+Shift+! (exclamation point).

56. Format as currency with two decimal places and negative numbers in parentheses. To format as currency with two decimal places and negative numbers in parentheses, press Ctrl+Shift+$ (dollar sign).

57. Format as percentage with no decimal places. To format as percentage with no decimal places, press Ctrl+Shift+% (percentage sign).

58. Strikethrough text. You may want to retain certain text but show a strikethrough on it. To do this, click the cell where you would like to include a strikethrough and go to the Home tab. Expand the Font group by clicking the arrow in the bottom right corner of that group, and put a check next to Strikethrough. Click OK.

59. Count the number of occurrences. You may need to count the number of occurrences for certain things, such as the number of items in a list or the number of commissions earned by a salesperson, etc. Choose the function COUNT(Value1,[Value2] ...). For Value1, select the cells that contain those occurrences. If there are other data to include in the count, include those for Value2 and so on.

60. Quickly fill cells with Flash Fill. Excel can automatically fill in a column or row of data if it senses a pattern. For example, if your spreadsheet contains first and last names in column A, and you would like just the last names listed in column B, start typing the last names in column B and, once Excel senses the pattern, you will see all last names appear in column B, as shown in the screenshot below. Press Enter to keep Excel's suggestions.


61. Visually represent your data using Data Bars.
You can add Data Bars to cells to visually represent your data, as shown in the screenshot below. This can be helpful for interpreting and analysing data. Select the cells that you would like to contain Data Bars. On the Home tab, Styles group, select Conditional Formatting, then select Data Bars. Choose the colour of the Data Bars.


62. Round values up.
Excel follows conventional rounding rules, but sometimes you may need to round up all numbers. Choose the function ROUNDUP(number, num_digits). For number, select the cell that contains the number to be rounded up. For num_digits, choose the number of decimal places to round. Then copy the formula down for all numbers.

63. Save Excel as PDF. To save a portion or all of your Excel workbook as a PDF, go to the File tab, Save As, Browse. Choose the desired location and type the desired name next to File name:. Next to Save as type:, choose PDF. Now, choose Standard (publishing online and printing) or Minimum size (publishing online). Click Options. Here, you can choose to include only a selection of a worksheet, an entire worksheet, or the entire workbook; document properties; etc. Click OK.

64. Embed Word, PDF, video, sound, or PowerPoint in Excel. To embed a Word document, PDF, video, sound, or PowerPoint slide(s), click in the Excel workbook where the object should be placed. On the Insert tab, Text group, select Object. To create a new object, select the object type on the Create New tab. To insert an object that has already been created, go to the Create from File tab and select Browse. Locate the object and double-click to select. You can check the Link to file box if you want the embedded object to stay linked to the source file and therefore be updated for any changes to the source file. You can also check the Display as icon box, which will display the embedded object as an icon instead of the object itself. Click OK.

65. Increase numbers by a percentage. Excel can be used to increase numbers by a certain percentage. First, insert the amount of the percentage as a decimal added to 1. For example, a percentage increase of 20% would be entered as 1.2 in a blank cell. Copy that number. Next, select the range of cells that should be increased by the percentage. On the Home tab, Clipboard group, select Paste, then select Paste Special. Select Multiply, then click OK. Your numbers will be changed to reflect the percentage increase. See the screenshots below for an illustration. In this example, there is a list of products with their current prices. In order to change the prices to reflect a 20% increase, 1.2 was entered in a blank cell (D1). That cell was copied, and the current prices were selected (B2:B10). Under Paste Special, Multiply was selected, and the prices for each product changed to reflect a 20% increase.


66. Use the "Tell me what you want to do" feature.
There is a Tell me box located on the right of the last command on the ribbon in Excel. You can use this box to enter an action you want Excel to perform, such as freeze panes, print, or insert picture, or to get help on a particular subject. If possible, Excel allows you to immediately perform the action. The Tell me box will also allow you to get additional help on the subject you have entered through the Excel help content, or to use Smart Lookup, which browses the internet for help on the subject (see the screenshots below).


67. Insert hyperlinks.
To insert a hyperlink in your Excel workbook, highlight the text, image, etc, that will be linked. Right-click and select Link. You can choose to link to an Existing File or Web Page and choose the path of the existing file or enter the URL of the webpage. You can choose to link to a Place in This Document and choose the worksheet and cell reference/defined name. You can also choose a link to Create New Document or E-mail Address.

Beyond Excel tips

68. To quickly look at two windows side by side on a Windows computer, select a window, and press the Windows Key+left arrow key to "snap" it to the left side of your screen. You can snap a different window to the other half of the screen by selecting the window and pressing the Windows Key+the right arrow.

69. Set up Google Alerts for clients, customer, bosses, leads, family, etc. Visit and set up your search criteria. Try to be as specific as possible to avoid false positives. There will be a preview of your search, as shown in the screenshot below.


70. Use a password manager
, which provides better security than trying to remember a bunch of different passwords and also is incredibly convenient!

71. Turn off all unnecessary notifications on your phone. The unnecessary interruptions to your day impact productivity significantly. Don't approach this all at once: As you receive notifications, decide if the notification is mission-critical or can be silenced.

72. When searching Google, hold down the Ctrl key when clicking links to open each link in a new tab. This way you never lose track of the search results page.

73. Use search whenever possible on your PC, on your phone, and in your email. On a Windows 10 PC, you can just begin typing after clicking the Start button.

74. Windows Quick Assist, which is built into Windows 10, is an extremely easy method to share your screen without the need to download and install anything. To access easily, search (with tip 73) for "Quick Assist".

75. Right-click on apps pinned to the taskbar to bring up lots of hidden options for various applications.

76. Use the Save as PDF option built into Microsoft Office. No need to print and scan or use a third-party app.

77. Realise the power of touch. Microsoft Office ribbons are optimised for touchscreen. If using Office on a device with a touchscreen, press various menus with your finger and see the difference.

78. Stop typing the same email. Use Quick Parts in Outlook to quickly insert text you type out all the time.

79. Change the time zone. When setting a diary appointment with someone in another time zone, change the appointment to invitee time zone to avoid mistakes. For example, if you are in Eastern time in the US and the other person agrees to meet at 1pm in London, simply change the appointment to London time and set it for 1pm.

80. Embed your videos into presentations. Stop linking to videos that won't play offline. Move the presentation to another computer to test. Disconnecting from the internet isn't a good enough test. When inserting your video, do not click Link to File. Instead, always choose Insert, as shown in the screenshot below.


81. Disable background data on your phone.
It doesn't just save data usage, it saves a lot of battery. For iPhone the feature is called Background App Refresh. Go to Settings>tap on General>scroll down and tap on Background App Refresh>toggle Background App Refresh off. On Android the feature is called "Data Saver". Go to Settings> Connections>Data Usage>Data Saver>toggle Off.

82. Use the Steps Recorder in Windows to record instructional steps to share with someone quickly.

83. Check the lighting. When on a video meeting, make sure you have adequate front lighting. For a quick and easy solution, try a USB LED light strip for under $10. By sticking it to your monitor, it will provide just enough front-facing light to provide good video quality. See an example here.

84. Use the mute button when not speaking on conference calls/video meetings. You can't hear your own background noise, but everyone else can.

85. Use the built-in PowerPoint laser pointer when presenting your screen in a remote meeting. The virtual laser pointer is available either at the bottom right of a presentation screen or from the Presenter View.

86. Link your phone to your Windows 10 PC. Use the Microsoft phone companion app to send and receive text messages on your PC. From Windows 10 search for "Your Phone" and the app will walk you through the configuration.

87. Integrate Cortana with your email, and Cortana will send you daily "Heads-up" reminders to follow up on things you said you would do in your email. For example, if you write in an email, "Jeff, I will send you the schedule tomorrow", Cortana will send you a reminder to send Jeff the schedule. On your PC, search for "Cortana" and open the Search and Settings, and under the Permissions section click Manage the Information Cortana can access from other services. You will be able to select your email source and configure access. This will enable the Cortana reminder emails.

88. Always use multifactor authentication when it's available in the application you want to use.

89. Use to shorten long URLs. As a bonus, you can track how many people click the links.

90. Open PDFs in Microsoft Word to quickly convert a PDF to an editable document. Open Word and from the Open menu select the PDF you would like to convert.

91. Use the "Delay" option in the Snipping Tool to capture menus that don't stay open when you click New. One of the authors used a two-second delay to capture the snip below.


92. Enable Clipboard history
and use Windows Key+V to access multiple items on your clipboard. To enable it, search "Clipboard" on your PC and select Clipboard Settings.

93. Use the Morph transition in PowerPoint to easily animate objects. Morph is available in the Transition tab. To use it, duplicate a slide you have already created, move/resize objects on the second slide, and apply the Morph transition to both slides.

94. Save your favourite animation. If you have a favourite animation you want to use throughout your presentation, you can easily apply the same PowerPoint animations on every slide by adding the animation to the Master Slide. From the View ribbon select Slide Master and apply your edits.

95. Insert signature lines in Word. If you need to add a line where someone can sign in a Word document, choose the Signature Line option in the Text group on the Insert tab.

96. Go back in time. Looking for something you were working on "the other day"? Press Windows Key+Tab to open a timeline of your activities in Windows.

97. Protect your computer from attack. Use Controlled Folder Access in Windows to protect your computer from potential ransomware attacks.

98. Lock your computer when you are away. Use Dynamic lock to automatically lock your computer when you walk away from it with your phone. Search for it on your PC and click on the checkbox as shown in the screenshot below.


99. Quickly insert screenshots into MS Office documents
using the Insert>Screenshot option as shown in the screenshot below. This feature will offer you all of the windows that are already open without having to snip them.


100. Keep tabs on your apps.
When using Alt+Tab to move between apps, you can use your mouse (or touchscreen) to quickly select the app you want to switch to.

Kelly L. Williams, CPA, Ph.D., MBA, is an assistant professor of accounting at Middle Tennessee State University, and Byron Patrick, CPA/CITP, CGMA, is senior applications consultant at botkeeper. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Jeff Drew, an FM magazine senior editor, at