Do you own your own accounting practice? Or do you lead a team of bookkeepers at an accounting firm? Whatever the case may be, you are likely always looking for new ways to optimize internal systems and operations. This is because when workflows are streamlined, it can help boost overall productivity and work output. Optimized workflows also can give your business the bandwidth to take on more clients.
Are you having trouble figuring out how to boost the workflows in your business? Well, no need to start browsing online accounting forums for advice. In my experience as the CEO and founder of CMA Exam Academy, a certified management accountant exam review program, and as a CMA, I have discovered a number of ways to amplify workflows in an accounting firm. Here are four of my tried-and-true tips to help your company.
Adopt Accounting Workflow Software
Do you use separate CRM, project management, invoicing, and time-keeping software applications to manage operations? Do you also use a cloud-based software tool to store and organize your clients’ important documents, such as tax returns and purchase orders? Having to switch between all of these various software platforms each day is inefficient. I highly recommend you identify and adopt the use of accounting workflow software.
There are a number of accounting workflow software platforms, such as Office Tools Workspace, CCH iFirm, and Jetpack Workflow, which all have functionalities that any accountant would highly useful. For example, accounting leaders can use their workflow software to delegate assignments to team members, manage project deadlines, track billing, and maintain their client database. This software also comes in different price points, so you can choose the application that works best with your monthly budget. Whatever accounting workflow software platform you choose, it is sure to help streamline your operations.
Integrate HR Into Your Workflow Management Tool
Once you adopt the use of a workflow management software application, work with human resources staff to optimize it even more. Integrating HR into your workflow management tool will help you ensure that all resources are allocated efficiently in your practice. For example, ask an HR staff member to look over your project management plans so they can let you know if a bookkeeper won’t be in the office when you had planned to have them work on billing. HR can also let you know if a staff member has the proper training to take on high-level projects you previously didn’t think they were qualified for.
Automate Your Staff’s Recurring Tasks Where You Can
Do your staff members send individual emails to clients each month to ask about pending accounts receivable? Do they also spend time following up with business clients to get them to send over documentation for supply purchases, payments for freelancers, and other company costs? Do your team members then spend hours scanning, uploading, and organizing receipts and invoices into designated cloud-based folders? And how about all the time they spend performing bank reconciliations for every client each month? Well, you can leverage technology to automate many of your staff’s recurring, time-wasting tasks.
By using technological tools like the aforementioned accounting workflow software, you will be able to automate tedious administrative tasks and free up a lot of your staff members’ time. They will then be able to take on more clients and growth-focused projects such as prospecting emails. This will help the overall company grow to new levels of success.
Clearly Define Workflows and Use Training Resources
Take a look at your overall operations. Is there a lot of confusion as to who is the best person to ask about taxes? Is there a lot of overlap on tasks, such as multiple accounting assistants updating journal entries for one client? Do senior accountants ever accidentally assign a project to their team member when someone else is already working on it? Have you ever put someone in charge of a bookkeeping task, then wasted a ton of time having to walk them through the steps on how to do it? If you clearly define workflows to staff members and ensure they have proper training resources, they will perform at a much higher level.
Take the time to plan out exactly how assignments should be completed, who oversees delegating certain tasks, and the best people to answer certain questions. Then, make sure all of your staff members have the proper training resources to excel in their roles. You can upload helpful manuals, training videos, how-to guides, or internal blog posts into your accounting workflow software so all resources are easily accessible in one place. This will help to eliminate a lot of the back-and-forth questions that occur in accounting practices that don’t have a designated portal for training essentials.
To Wrap It All Up
There are numerous ways to amplify workflows in your accounting business. To streamline processes and enhance productivity, identify and adopt a functional accounting workflow software application. Then integrate human resources into your workflow management tool to optimize it even more. Also, automate your staff members’ recurring tasks wherever possible, clearly define workflows throughout your business, and ensure your staff members have the training resources they need to excel in their roles. Following these steps should help you amplify your firm’s workflows.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc., the publisher of Bloomberg Law and Bloomberg Tax, or its owners.
Nathan Liao is the founder and CEO of CMA Exam Academy. As a CMA and CMA coach, Liao mentors accounting and finance professionals in more than 80 countries to earn their CMA certification in as little as eight months.
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