Paula Field, CPA, owner of Paula Field, CPA, PLLC, in Allen, Texas, leads a team of 10 who are passionate about serving the accounting needs of their 300+ clients. Services include tax, consulting, bookkeeping, financial planning, and forensics, and the firm has been a Karbon customer since 2018. Find out how the firm integrates Lacerte® with Intuit® Practice Management powered by Karbon to grow the firm, speed workflow, and cut down on manual data entry.
Business is in her genes
Since she was young, business has been part of Paula’s life. She began her career working in the family Hallmark store, which her mother opened when Paula was 13. At the same time, her father was running a separate business.
“I used to get off the bus and go to work with Mom after school,” she says. “Then, at home, I’d sit at the dinner table with Mom and Dad, and we’d talk shop. That was my life growing up. I got to do everything that Mom didn’t want to do. She was artistic, but had no interest in things such as accounting, so I took that on and I loved it.”
As she helped that single Hallmark store grow to a chain of seven, Paula discovered her passion for accounting and helping others. She earned a business management degree, and realized that she was born for numbers and business.
“Mom and I ran the business together; we managed the opening of more stores and grew to 120 employees,” she says, but recalls that it wasn’t always smooth sailing. “We were always stressed out about making payroll, paying rent, or attending to our inventory bill.”
After 20 years of up and downs, Paula and her mother made the tough decision to close the family business.
A unique perspective
Going through the challenges that come with running a small business, combined with a love of numbers, put Paula in a unique position. So, after the closure of the family stores, she was determined to help others avoid the same pain she experienced.
She earned her master’s degree in accounting and her CPA designation, then established her firm. That was 11 years ago.
“I’ve experienced a business full circle,” says Paula. “My mentality has always been from the perspective of a business owner, not from an accountant. I understand why people get into business in the first place – and their pain points. When I ran the family business, I wanted real-time information. I know how important it is to be making decisions for tomorrow based on yesterday, not decisions for next year based on what happened last year. Everything we do today is based around providing that level of service to our clients.”
Geared toward technology
To make it possible to deliver the service she knows her clients need, Paula and her team embrace technology.
“Technology has become a differentiation for us,” says Karen Standefer, the firm’s operations manager. “We’re giving clients insight into their business that they never had before.”
Paula believes that if the firm can give clients the visibility of real-time information, she and her team will also provide greater peace of mind.
“They are paying us to do a job, so they need to see that it’s getting done,” she says. “We use technology to benefit the client, the workflow, the employees, and the business. We embrace it and take full advantage.”
Rising above the chaos
A core part of their tech stack is Karbon to manage workflow and communication. Paula says that every aspect of their business has benefited.
“Karbon has improved our workflow immensely. We don’t have this chaotic environment anymore and there is less cursing!”
The visibility that Karbon provides also helps them achieve the firm’s top priority of providing world-class service to clients.
“A lot of the things that we work on can be life-changing for clients, so it’s so important that we are on top of every email and all communication across the team,” says Karen. “Karbon gives us the visibility we need across internal and external communication.”
For example, anyone in the firm can get into a work item or contact, and see an email that anybody has sent.
“This is priceless for us,” she says. “We have one place to find what we need. That means we are not duplicating communication or asking things that have already been answered. It also results in a quicker turnaround for our clients.”
Paula agrees that Karbon has made them more efficient. “Clients answer a question, and it feeds right into the work item in Karbon. We don’t need to check another email or ask another person. It’s all there and accessible to who needs it, which cuts down any delay.“
The icing on the cake
The team is excited about the prospect of syncing their Karbon data with Lacerte® Tax, using Intuit Practice Management powered by Karbon.
“It won’t mean avoiding double entry, it will mean avoiding quadruple entry,” says Business Manager Sandra Michaels. “The combination of syncing Karbon and Lacerte is going to be the icing on the cake for us.”
“Updating a work item in Karbon will update in Lacerte,” says Paula. “When we’re using Lacerte in the delivery process, the status is so important. I’m really excited for the software to work together.”
Karbon and Lacerte working closer together will provide Paula’s team with even more visibility over specific tax returns and the high-level workflow needed to make macro decisions.
“We’ll have at least two sets of eyes on everything,” she says. “We can be sure that work is being accomplished on time, extensions are getting filed, and nothing is falling through the cracks.”
Still a family business
Much of what Paula learned working in her mother’s company is still being used today. This is especially evident by the fact that her team is considered family.
“Paula is invested in our learning and individual growth within the firm,” says Karen. “This is the rainbow unicorn of places to work. I have amazing opportunities, can learn and continually grow, and still be the mom that I need to be. I love every minute of it.”
Despite doubling in size in the last two years, Paula ensures that the client experience remains their top priority.
“Tools like Karbon have allowed us to serve more clients and be more efficient, while still improving the product that we provide to them,” she says. “I always come back to the numbers, but at the same time, I love people. I love helping their businesses and the relationships that come with that.”
Find out more about how Intuit Practice Management powered by Karbon can benefit your firm.