We’ve talked about what CAS is, if you should implement it at your accounting firm and how to start offering CAS—now, it’s time to look a little deeper into CAS and figure out what tools any CAS firm will need to be successful. Figuring out what tech stack will work for your specific firm is unique to each office and will likely be an ongoing process as needs evolve. To help accounting firms get started on building their perfect tech stack, here is a tech stack guide for modern CAS firms.
Tech stack for CAS firms
Firms who offer CAS provide additional levels of service to their clients than a simple tax return, which means being available to clients is important—the accountant is more of a partner with a CAS model and is there to provide advice. No one likes playing phone and email tag to get in touch with people. Consider implementing a scheduling tool, like Calendly, to help you manage your appointments and give clients the power to reach out to you on your terms.
Client portals give you and your clients a digital one-stop shop for all communication and actions pertaining to the relationship. Because everything happens through a client profile in the portal, anyone at the business can view interactions and close loops—basically, it makes your life (and the client's life) easier.
Client portals are important to clients in the modern business world. A 2021 study found that 56% of businesses say it’s important for their accountant to offer a client portal. Plus, the bigger the client, the more likely they are to say client portals are important—90% of businesses with 51-100 employees said their accountants offering a client portal is imperative.
Now that we’ve established client portals are important to the client, let’s look at how client portals help the accountant. From secure file sharing, to seamless client collaboration, client portals are there to keep things organized. Uploading files and getting the right information from your clients is easy with a client portal and helps you avoid a back-and-forth email chain. No more digging for information in a lost email thread; instead, everything is stored in one place. Anytime we can set up our tech stacks to talk to each other and help us do the work, that’s a win. For example, Canopy’s Client Portal seamlessly links to third-party scheduling tools, making it even easier for clients to set up meetings.
Cloud-based document management
You, your employees and your clients can waste time every day with tedious tasks such as printing, faxing, mailing, and copying, or even finding documents you need. Research shows that searching for papers and other information can waste up to 9 hours per week per employee. On average, professionals can take up to 18 minutes to find a document manually and spend nearly half of their time locating information needed to do their jobs. That’s a lot of wasted time—468 hours per year to be exact.
When it comes to upskilling your firm and finding more value-add areas for your client, there’s really no time to waste. Instead, it’s best to transition your firm to a paperless model. With a secure cloud-based document management system, it will be easier to locate the right files, make annotations, and manage them in one place--leaving you with more time to get the important work done for your clients.
Client management system, or a CRM
Firms are leveraging technology now more than ever to meet changing client expectations. In order to expand your traditional accounting services, your tech stack must be fine tuned to alleviate the burden of any manual, time consuming tasks. Recent research found that 78% of small businesses would switch accountants to one who uses the latest technology. If you’re looking to impress your clients, it’s time to get the right software solution on your side. Implementing the right CRM will make your life easier and it will only create more opportunity to expand your services.
All accounting firms—and especially CAS firms—need a task management system, or a workflow system to help things run smoothly. In the modern world, a cloud-based solution is the industry-wide best practice. Many accounting firms use Google Sheets, or Excel to manage tasks and some even use sticky notes (the horror!) While Excel might be getting the job done OK, there are many software solutions out there today that take workflow to the next level. Project management can be difficult without a centralized management system, and CAS firms handle a lot of projects for their clients. Implementing a workflow solution, like Canopy or Asana, is a great way to set yourself up for success and feel confident you can manage everything your firm is working on. Canopy offers productivity reports that helps you determine how productively your firm handles clients and allows you to gain this knowledge at the micro level, and the macro level. These reports can help you keep track of what work is being done, which can come in handy when presenting the value your firm has added to your CAS clients. Keep reading to see what you can do with this data.
CAS firms are all about adding value to their clients and it’s important to constantly be looking for more areas where you can add more value to your clients. Because of this business model, it’s imperative that clients know everything you’ve done to help their business. A great way to help convey where you are in the process on certain projects (or to show what you’ve already completed) is to create a visual presentation for your clients. According to MIT, 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual, making data visualization crucial if you want to make sure your clients understand the information. Using a tool like Canva or even Google Slides, is an excellent and easy way to take the numbers and make them more digestible.
What tech stack works best for your accounting firm? Let us know in the comments below.
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