MNCPA PERSPECTIVES

PRIMA year 2: Getting better

May 15, 2018  |  Faye Hayhurst, CPA

It was August 2017 at the annual AICPA Peer Review Conference, and there seemed to be a word on everyone’s lips. It was muttered usually in connection with a negative adjective (if not something worse) and accompanied by a dark look. What was that mystery word? PRIMA.

It’s been a year since the AICPA launched PRIMA (pronounced "Pree-mah"), the Peer Review Integrated Management Application, in May 2017. PRIMA is the online application developed for the peer review program, and its use is mandatory for peer reviewers, firms being reviewed, technical reviewers and administrators.

The launch was not particularly pretty. While many routine tasks worked well, numerous users experienced roadblocks or hit a wall where there seemed to be no solution to accomplishing what they needed to do. The AICPA was overwhelmed with requests for help and service tickets that detailed malfunctions. As an administrator on the front line, I can attest to what we did on the local level: the many phone calls we took, the hand-holding and problem-solving, and the high level of frustration of CPAs trying to use the system.

To the AICPA’s credit, they accepted responsibility for the problems and treated it as an all-hands-on-deck situation for their peer review and IT team. Several rounds of fixes and enhancements have been implemented since then, with the most recent on May 7, 2018.

So where are we now? A year later, PRIMA is a (mostly) stable platform that (mostly) works well and (mostly) accommodates many different scenarios. Here are some of our favorite features:

  1. Paper is nearly eliminated.
  2. Various parties in the process can send information back and forth virtually instantaneously, eliminating mail delays.
  3. Tasks can be accomplished, and the peer review workflow monitored, from any computer that has access to the internet.
  4. There’s an electronic trail of correspondence received and sent.
  5. Review documents that carry forward can be accessed electronically, removing the possibility of losing a document that may be needed to submit to a third party, such as the Board of Accountancy.

PRIMA is still a new technology for firms to learn. Since a peer review is required only every third year, it’s possible that it may take two more years before every firm has had exposure to the application. For most people, rare use of a software makes it very difficult to master its use. Fortunately, AICPA has a powerful solution to this inherent problem: detailed instructions with screenshots and videos that are accessible within PRIMA.

The MNCPA has a supplemental solution for firms: a dedicated, peer review support staff. We can answer many PRIMA questions or point you in the right direction. We also have available a screen-sharing tool that allows us to view someone else’s computer screen and direct them where to click. Our goal is to make the process less painful and facilitate a firm getting through the process as efficiently as possible.

PRIMA is not perfect, and each round of enhancements brings fresh bugs to resolve. But it’s improving, and it represents a future that is better than the past. Viva PRIMA!

Want more information on how to navigate PRIMA and your firm's peer review? Check out our webinar, "PRIMA Tips and Tricks."

Topics: Peer Review

Faye Hayhurst, CPA

Faye Hayhurst is the MNCPA director of finance and administration. She is committed to using numbers to tell relevant stories, although she also employs words, charts and occasionally clothing to communicate a message. While some have questioned her about the pressures of being the CPA for the MNCPA, Faye considers presenting financial information to fellow CPAs a dream job. Outside of storytelling with numbers, Faye enjoys directing her church's handbell choir, visiting national parks and other scenic places, and checking out the chocolate products at Trader Joe's. Faye can be reached at 952-885-5540 or fhayhurst@mncpa.org.

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