The Institute of Certified Public Accountants (CPA Ireland) is one of the main Irish accountancy bodies with 5,000 members and students. The CPA designation is the most universally used designation worldwide for professional accountants and the Institute’s qualification enjoys wide international recognition.
While CPA have been clients for over a decade, in the last three years we undertook a complete redesign of their website with extensive backend integration.
This challenge was to increase CPA’s membership, smooth their service to their customers and reduce (or eliminate) their reliance on paper as part of their administration processes e.g. resubscription and member management was almost entirely paper based, a costly and cumbersome process.
The Continuum website development team created a whole new bespoke site for CPA, with the aim of reducing their reliance on manual processes and, in turn, reduce the number of administrative hours and the administrative overhead from processing a huge number of manual requests every year.
The website provides a content managed repository where members, students and the public access information about the CPA, as well as giving members, students and public access to search for and book CPA events and online courses. The new systems have removed the paper based system which had been in place since the creation of the CPA, which was labour-intensive for members of the public, students, mentors and CPA staff.
The new website automates many of the processes within CPA, reducing reliance on the outdated labour-intensive paper system. Among the new processes implemented was a new system which automates the annual invoicing of members, students and firms. This has removed a manual process from CPA administrators and reduced risk of human error in the process.
Amongst other initiatives included in the project were:
- Annual returns: A new process was created for Members in Practice and Member in Industry to complete their annual returns and automatically continue as members with minimal administrative overhead from the members division of CPA. This involved a set of design and functional changes which improved the process for members making their annual returns as well as annual returns for regulated firms with a view to improving the members user experience and reducing support calls to CPA.
- Training record & exam portal: A new online process was created for students to allow them record their training activity through the web portal, as well as register for exams. This process also allows their mentors to approve all training through the online portal, removing a paper based system which was labour-intensive for students, mentors and CPA staff.
- Online Courses: A new online third party integration that allows the students to log onto the portal and access third party courses without having to log on a second time.
The Continuum team worked on a project during this time for CPA with the aim of increasing the website’s integration into third party systems used internally (including Microsoft Dynamics and Exchequer). The aim of which was to remove the manual process of transferring information from the website to these systems, with a view to eliminating the manual task where possible, as well as reducing the potential for human error where some manual element remains.
Continuum removed the manual interactions risk of human error across the board in CPA. As a result of the project, less than 5 per cent of CPA’s processes still require manual sign off or paper processes. This has in turn removed a manual process from CPA administrators and reduced risk of human error in the process.
The cost savings to CPA in the first year of the project alone paid for the project. The benefit to the end user has been to reduce reliance on a labour-intensive paper system, as well as allowing greater ease of access to the repository of information about the CPA and its services.