Proposed Research Projects

Proposed Research Projects

Our research agenda is driven by our community of transformation agents and our stakeholders. Unlike the larger research institutions, our research is focused on small and mid-sized business and nonprofits. We strive to provide actionable intelligence that can be easily applied by “non-techie” practitioners who seek to make better informed business decisions. Listed below are the projects that have made it through our project selection process and are awaiting full funding. If you contribute to the funding of the project you will usually gain early access to the work products as well as not having to pay the full retail price for the final product or services once it is publicly available.

Definition and Framework Development

The result of this research is normally a whitepaper that defines the topic, and a framework for understanding the components and maturity of the components in an area. These are intended to help build an understanding of a particular topic so that you can understand “what you’re getting into” when considering an initiative in an area, or to help provide you with the jargon and concepts needed to talk intelligently about a particular area.

  • Agile Finance – What are the core Agile concepts? How do they change when applied to the finance function and to the organization at large?
  • API-Enabled Tax Return Preparation – None of the current tax preparation software enable you to push the data into them via an integration. What would be the impact to tax preparation services if this were possible? Could technologies like Robotic Process Automation (RPA) be used instead?
  • Data Analytics Infrastructure for Non-Techies – How do I understand the jargon and technical concepts associated with data analytics? What should I be asking my IT team about how they’re architecting our data analytics infrastructure to ensure that they are addressing the associated risks? How do I ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information provided by the solution?
  • Data Analytics Maturity Model for Audit Services – What does it look like when data analytics is incorporated into your audit function? Should it be a stand-alone team or distributed throughout your audit department/organization? What are the different levels of maturity in data analytics adoption in the audit context?
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) Success for Accounting Firms – What are the critical elements of a good DE&I program? How do you achieve DE&I when you’re in a area that doesn’t have a lot of diversity? How do you know your DE&I program is achieving the impact that you want? What metrics should be used to measure the success of your DE&I program?
  • Performance Management Software Ecosystem – What are all the key business processes and categories of systems that organizations should be considering when looking at the whole picture of financial, people, and operations management? How do we use the data from these systems to correlate financial and non-financial metrics and drive better overall organizational performance?
  • Intra-Association Referral Management Software – One of the ways that associations can have a positive impact on their members is to turn networking into actual business referrals among members. While this happens informally a lot, it’s hard and usually very manual for associations to track the “commerce” created to be able to quantify how much of a benefit they’ve provided to members.
  • Membership Engagement Success for Professional Associations – What exactly does “member engagement” mean for professional associations? Many association management systems vendors currently offer to provide you with a “membership engagement score” that you can use to identify “at risk” members. We believe that membership engagement is actually multi-dimensional and this project seeks to define the different dimensions and metrics that can be used to measure success in each area.
  • Practitioner Expectations of Tax Agencies – Even though we’re out of the Covid-19 pandemic, complaints still abound about IRS operations and its cascading impact on the services that tax practitioners provide to taxpayers. This project seeks to define what practitioners think would be reasonable expectations of government tax agencies (e.g. how long they’re waiting when calling in, turnaround on document requests, etc.) and identify ways that these agencies could streamline interactions with practitioners.
  • Simplified Blockchain for Supply Chain Management for Small Businesses and Their Suppliers – Walmart and other big companies have demonstrated the value of private blockchains with extensive supply chains and expense ERP systems. Can these operational models be “right-sized” for small businesses and their suppliers? How do we address the diversity of accounting systems used by these businesses?

Standardized Processes and Leading Practices

The result of this research is normally an Intraprise Blueprint® that describes the standardized processes and workflow, software categories and data sources, and information flows for a particular area. These templates can be used to assess the current state of an area, identify improvement opportunities, identify integration or customization needs, and visualize the future state of the area.

  • Improving Audit Quality through Automation – What are the leading practices for incorporating data analytics and other technologies into a firm’s audit methodology? What the expected efficiency gains? What are the audit effectiveness gains? Are there any audit standards issues to be wary of?
  • Microsoft Teams Deployment and Management in Accounting Firms (small & midsized)
  • Microsoft Teams Deployment and Management in Accounting Firms (large)
  • Microsoft Teams Deployment and Management in Associations
  • Microsoft Teams Deployment and Management in Mid-Sized Organizations
  • Microsoft Teams Deployment and Management in Nonprofits
  • Microsoft Teams Deployment and Management in Professional Services Firms
  • Program Management Software for Associations – What are the primary ways that software can support program budgeting, program operations management, association financial forecasting, and linking of finances to outcomes and impacts?
  • Program Management Software for Nonprofits – What are they primary ways that software can support contracts and awards management, program budgeting, program operations management, overall financial forecasting, and linking of funding to outcomes and impacts.
  • Real-Time Inventory Management for Retail Businesses – How does a multi-outlet retail business minimize the amount of cash it has tied up in inventory by optimizing its ordering timeline to minimize its need for warehousing/storage? What are they key performance factors and contract clauses to address when negotiating with suppliers to ensure they are able to delivery product on time? How do you optimize the information flow between stores, corporate office, suppliers, warehouse, and logistics to ensure everyone is on the same page and that orders are received on-time so store shelves are not empty?

Vendor Comparisons

The result of this research is normally a mid-depth vendor comparison that includes definitions of key features, identifications of differentiators and limitations that may impact more complex needs, and additional evaluation of a vendor’s financial, organizational, and governance structures. These are intended to support vendor selection and due diligence processes.

  • Budgeting & Planning Software for Client Accounting Services
  • Budgeting & Planning Software for Nonprofits
  • Budgeting & Planning Software for Small Business
  • Budgeting & Planning Software for Mid-Market Businesses
  • Client Portal Software for Audit
  • Credit Card Merchant Services Reconciliation Software (3-way reconciliation between point of sale, merchant service processor, and bank)
  • Employee Engagement Software (pulse checks, 1-on-1s, real time performance feedback, etc.)
  • Human Resources Software for Small Organizations (full service HR, beyond just payroll)
  • Lease Accounting Software
  • Leadership Development Programs for Accounting Firms
  • Password Management Software for Accounting Firms
  • Tax Trial Balance Software

Vendor Options

The result of this research is normally a simple vendor comparison. This is intended to help you by reducing the amount of time you have to spend to identify vendor options and pricing within a given area. This is useful for identifying the amount to budget for a particular initiative, but is not usually deep enough for actual vendor selection (see Vendor Comparisons above).

  • CRM Systems for Accounting Firms
  • CRM Systems for Associations
  • Data Analytics Upskilling Programs for Audit
  • Data Analytics Upskilling Programs for Finance
  • Data Analytics Upskilling Programs for Tax
  • Practice Management Systems for Small Accounting Firms
  • Program Management Systems for Small Nonprofits
  • Staff Scheduling Software for Accounting Firms
  • Virtual Event Platforms for Professional Education

If you would like to learn more about how you can contribute the funding of the research projects above, please contact us at

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