With millions of documents, broken communication chains, never-ending meetings, and constant task/tool switching, an accounting firm can quickly devolve into a chaotic environment. So, how do you manage this and organize your firm? It’s simple. You need the right accounting workflow software.
Essentially, workflow management software is a tool to help businesses manage and organize their processes and procedures. It’s a place to track tasks, manage project statuses, assign ownership, and oversee productivity. When you purchase workflow software specifically designed for individuals in your industry, i.e. workflow management software for accounting firms, you’ll find helpful features related directly to the needs of an accounting firm.
Ideally, a workflow management software should be part of an all-in-one practice management solution for your accounting firm to solve all of your organizational needs in one place. As your accounting firm grows, having the best workflow software implemented can set you up for success and help your firm attain scalable growth.
What can accounting workflow management software do for your firm? Automating your firm’s workflow with a software solution can improve organizational efficiency, increase productivity, and provide helpful insights into how your office runs—and identify opportunities for improvement.
And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to benefits your firm could see from implementing the right workflow software. The best workflow software for accountants will make life easier by allowing firms to offload those constant repetitive tasks that can pile up. Automating your workflow decreases human error at your firm and helps you stay on task and be more productive.
Automation improves efficiency and productivity according to 58% of accountants, according to a Sage Practice of Now report. Additionally, 35% of accounting professionals said client retention rates increased when they updated their tech stack and 41% said employing automation made their staff more competent and confident in their work.
But, how do you know what workflow software is right for your accounting practice? It can be an intimidating process and you may not know where to start. To answer that question, it’s important to take a step back and understand exactly what your firm’s current workflow looks like and what your needs are.
Try answering these questions to gauge where you’re currently at in your workflow journey:
Now that you’re starting to figure out where you’re currently at, it’s time to look at what your needs are. Use your answers to the above questions to create a baseline for your accounting firm’s current workflow management processes.
If you’re already using a workflow management software, it’s important to evaluate if it’s meeting the needs of your firm. Have you fully implemented the software? Are you looking for a change? What things aren’t working?
Maybe, you’re using a combination of several different software solutions to organize your workflow. If this is the case, take a look at what you’re able to accomplish with this system vs. what you’d be able to do with a workflow management software.
Here is a glimpse at a few benefits that the top workflow management softwares for accounting firms provide:
In your current workflow system, do you have a dashboard where you’re able to see all of your team's tasks in one place? If not, that might mean you’re spending more time tool switching and looking for the right information rather than being able to focus on the important work.
Implementing the right system for client management gives you insights into what work is being done by each staff member at any given time. Accessing detailed task insights can help you accurately communicate to clients about the status of their work to build higher levels of trust and competency in your firm.
Having all of your firm’s tasks live in one place helps eliminate frustration, errors, and burnout among staff members.
Are you able to get notifications on task updates, see task activity history, manage tasks and subtasks, set up recurring tasks, use filter view to find what you’re looking for, create custom filters, and more?
If not, it can add more to your workload—rather than simply being able to focus on the work you need to get done, you’re now in charge of remembering to manually check in with tasks instead of setting up an automatic reminder or setting up a recurring task.
Additionally, having to stop and remember to set up other tasks can be very disruptive and distracting. Contrary to popular belief, research has found that multitasking is actually counterproductive rather than showing an employee can focus on more than one task at a time. In fact, task switching and multitasking can end up costing a company 40% in lost productivity.
In the accounting industry there are many repeatable tasks and processes that occur—onboarding new clients, monthly bookkeeping, reviewing tax returns, sending engagement letters, filing the same paperwork for multiple clients and so on. Workflow software can help you save time and gain efficiency by setting up templates for recurring work.
Templates also allow you to train staff quicker. You’ll do the work once when you set up the template and then you can implement that same process over and over. Plus, if someone at your company leaves, the standard operating procedure (SOP) isn’t lost with them—instead, it lives forever documented in a template. This keeps things up and running smoothly even in times of high transition and training new hires or seasonal employees.
When work is consistent, it leads to happier employees and clients. Constantly changing up processes can feel volatile to both employees and clients—instead, keep your processes consistent with templates and never lose another SOP again. Consistency on those monthly, repetitive tasks is important and makes sure you're doing that task the most efficient way possible every time.
Client organizers are a crucial part of any tax firm—it’s a way for you to survey clients and help your firm identify areas of opportunity to perform the right work for clients quickly and accurately. The right workflow solution should ideally double as a client workflow software by streamlining these efforts. Rather than sending out an organizer by mail, your practice can move the process online—this not only saves your firm time and money, it also makes your clients lives easier as well. An efficient web-based PDF organizer can replace paper-copies. Instead of waiting for the mail to arrive, your online organizer will immediately be sent to clients.
Having an organized system that can not only send, record, and store that data attached to their client file can save you time and ensure more accuracy on your end. You can also group client organizers into one bulk action to multiple clients.
Sending out the same client organizer to multiple clients at a time can not only save time but it can improve accuracy as well. When everyone is in one place, efficiency and organization is also improved and your accounting firm is able to get the necessary information from clients.
When you implement the right workflow solution at your firm, your clients will notice. By making it easier for clients to do business with you, client satisfaction will increase leading to higher retention and referral rates. A win-win all around.
It’s difficult to make the right business decisions, especially for small businesses, if you don’t have the right tools to measure how your firm is performing. Accounting workflow software keeps track of operational data for you, giving you the information necessary to make more informed business decisions on workflow, bandwidth, and team capacity.
Automating every process that can be automated is key to managing your accounting firm successfully. Work can quickly become unmanageable when your day is bogged down keeping up manually with tasks, staying on top of client work, managing project status, and knowing what everyone is working on.
Implementing the right workflow management software can quickly elevate your firm from survival mode to thriving mode.