Is your accounting firm intentional about process and workflow? If the answer is no, it’s only a matter of time until processes start breaking down. Without a well-defined workflow management system and the appropriate processes in place, it doesn’t take much for things to fall apart—it could be a seasoned employee leaving and taking legacy knowledge with them, or restructuring your file organization system. Any change could disrupt an undefined workflow system. If this sounds like you, it’s time you implement a workflow solution. Here are three things accounting firms should keep in mind when looking to adopt the best workflow management system.
Elements of an effective accounting workflow management system
At any accounting firm, there are repeatable processes that are necessary and important but can end up being extremely time consuming. Don’t waste your staff’s talents on tasks that can easily be automated—let technology do that work for you. This will not only free up your employee’s time for more important jobs, it will also help eliminate task switching and decrease human error. Instead of relying on an employee’s memory to manually assign each next step in the process, let accounting workflow management software remember for them.
Across the globe, the average office worker spends 69 days per year on administrative tasks which can cost companies up to $5 trillion annually, research by Unit4 found.
That’s a lot of time spent doing manual tasks. Think of the increase in productivity your firm could experience if those 69 days were spent working on projects and getting the important work done. That’s what automation can do for you. Additionally, it’s crucial to avoid burnout and loss of motivation among staff (both of which lead to lost productivity) and giving your employees the right tech and setting them up for success can help combat burnout and leave employees feeling supported and motivated.
In the same Unit4 study, 67% of respondents said implementing digital or software solutions was important to remain competitive in their respective markets.
Internal and external communication can make or break a business. Forgotten emails, not following up with a colleague or losing client notes can be a few examples of a degraded communication system at an accounting firm. To avoid these common pitfalls, create established communication processes at your firm. This can be accomplished through accounting workflow software, which allows you to keep track of communication all in one place. As your accounting firm looks to onboard the right workflow tool, keep an eye out for one that offers robust features that give you a firm-wide task view of what everyone is working on which will optimize team transparency and collaboration.
Control security and access
When one thinks of cybersecurity, the first thing that usually comes to mind is an external attack. While protecting information against external attacks is extremely important, having the power to control information internally is just as important. To address the first, choose a safe cloud-based software that is encrypted and can safely store your data. For example, Canopy is SOC-2 compliant and uses 256-bit encryption to secure information.
For internal protection, choose a software solution that gives you the power to limit access to certain employees. Restricting access to authorized users ensures that the people who need the information have it, and those that don’t need it can’t access it. For example, if your accounting firm works with a lot of interns or junior accountants, it’s smart to only give them access to the accounts they are actively working on. Similarly, for your biggest accounts, it’s smart to limit access to those accounts to a select few. This will give you peace of mind and decrease the risk of an error.
Even the best accounting firms out there are only as good as their workflow system—without the right tools and processes in place, organizations can be set up to fail without even realizing it. In today’s day and age, cloud-based tools can greatly help accountants manage workflow at their firms.