This paper explores the impact of web‐based e‐business operations on client firm processes and accounting methods, and addresses related issues for accounting firm assurance services teams to consider. In particular, some of the complications and potential problems associated with the use of traditional assurance methods on e‐businesses with digital operating environments are discussed. The flexibility required to respond to the everchanging business environment of e‐enabled client firms will require accounting firm leaders to rethink and reengineer existing management structures and practices. While clients of accounting firms are realizing tremendous value by streamlining information flows and increasing information sharing internally and externally, accounting firms remain organized primarily into discreet functions that often compete internally for customers.

An e‐business model, the Customer‐Oriented Value Chain, is employed to frame the discussion of emerging accounting issues resulting from new digital business practices. Within this context we develop 16 propositions regarding potential methods accounting firms may consider applying for two purposes: (1) better alignment of traditional assurance practices with client firm e‐business activities, and (2) better integration of existing assurance offerings.

Subsequently, the challenges associated with offering integrated assurance services given current accounting firm organizational structures is discussed and a model of suggested organizational changes to accounting firms is presented. This model is inspired by the CPA Vision Project, the AICPA's Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) designation, and the new Global Business Credential initiatives, and is intended to serve as a prototype upon which to build improved organizational structures. Some of the potential benefits of reorganization and better services integration include more efficient use of firm resources, greater profitability, more efficient associate training, a clearer understanding of client business processes, and greater value provision to clients.

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