‘Taxes Are Us’ is a small Tax Preparation Business located in Milton Delaware. The office primarily supports the population of Sussex County; however, the tax preparers are versatile and in addition to Federal tax support, offer tax support for the states of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, as well as Delaware. The office currently has over 600 customers. Taxes Are Us’ has been operating since 2008, and has three full-time employees and the owner working in the office. In 2008 when the office opened, five Dell computers were purchased.
One of the Dell computers was purchased with a larger disk drive; that would serve as a central (back-up) depository for all tax prepared documents, for the entire office. The tax preparation software loaded on the computers is specialized software, but was purchased ‘commercial off the shelf’. Although tax season starts in January and runs to mid-April, the employees work 12 months per year, much of that time, studying the changes in federal and state(s) tax law. Benefits and Disadvantages The system works well; it was designed for small offices, and meets our requirements.
The only negative impact is updating the software. The employees are all tax preparers, there is no IT staff. Our newest hire, also doubles as office administrator. She usually is involved with uploading the changes and updates to the computers. But because this is not her area of expertise, the process is often time-consuming, and mistakes are made. Holism vs. Reductionism The developers of the software may have considered holism in the development process, but as a result of so many annual changes, I find it hard to agree.
From the office perspective, there was little consideration. The owner reviewed the software capabilities on a website, and chose to purchase it immediately. System Development Life Cycle Implementation Method Employed by Organization. We worked closely with the vendor and every time she finished a piece of the system, we tested it and when everyone was satisfied, she moved on to the next component. This process seemed to work well, because we were all involved and the entire staff became trained during each testing phase.
Planning: There was not a lot of planning that took place. Once the owner decided on the size of the operation (number of employees), and location for the office…the rest was history. Analysis: No analysis of business requirement occurred; the decision to buy was quickly made after the owners viewed the software demonstration. The software was pre-developed- off the shelf (OTS), there was no consideration other than OTS. Design: The network is simple and meets the business needs. The design was configured by the vendor.
Development: There was not a lot of work required from the development perspective; there were a few screens that had to be configured specifically to align different tax requirement and we work in conjunction with the vendor in developing the screens. Testing: The hardware vendor installed and tested all the new computers and network. Once the hardware was operating, we worked directly with the software vendor in developing and testing all the modifications we needed. This phase as well as the Development phase served as a training session because of our direct involvement with each function of the new system.
Implementation: As mentioned in the last two phases, we (the office staff) had a great deal of input to the development, testing and implementation of the system. Each modification and function was phased in separately until the system was complete. Maintenance: There is a contract with the vendor to accomplish routine maintenance and to respond with other system problems. Data Management – Data-back-up/Disaster Recover: Our data is backed up daily onto a separate drive. Once a month a full back-up is completed and that data is keep off site. There is a dedicated Disaster Recovery Plan, because the data we store is sensitive and critical.
If a client is audited, we need to have the their tax information immediately available to support the audit. Additionally, we plan on recurring business, and comparing tax figures from the past year to the present is helpful in the analysis. Impact of Implementation The system was developed as the office was opened. There was a significant impact, but nothing to compare to. Administrative procedures – human and process changes: We meet monthly in a staff meeting to discuss changes to the tax law, which often means changes to the system. There are not a lot of processes or procedures required in our office.
Because we do have some down-time we often use the internet access for personal use. This is approved by the owned. Changes in organization policies: This was a new system. Training requirements: Training was accomplished in-house as the system was developed, tested, and implemented. The process was a great way to familiarize the employees with all the attributes of the system. Additional creative information can be added to fill gaps, however if you add additional information you should use the fictional name (S. Smith, Personal Communications, include Date).