When it comes to creating a successful accounting firm, it seems that even the smallest decisions make big differences in delivering quality work to your clients and creating a productive workplace where talented employees thrive. One of the keys to that success is optimizing your firm’s workflow.
Workflow is the way a project progresses from its beginning to its completion via a defined sequence of repeatable tasks. When workflow is haphazard and inconsistent, projects slow down considerably, and you spend a lot of time correcting mistakes and re-doing tasks that should have been done properly the first time. Poor workflow also leads to lost data, inconsistent tracking, and an overall poor experience for your clients. Taking more time to do less work is not the formula for success.
Optimizing your workflow means implementing tools and strategies that eliminate confusion and define the sequence of tasks clearly for everyone who works on a project. From automating repetitive tasks to providing a smooth customer experience, effectively managing the workflow at your accounting firm is important for both current success and future growth.
Workflow management is critical to keeping your firm competitive in the marketplace. Fortunately, there are many options available to invest in improving the workflow. It’s a good idea to focus on areas where you and your employees are facing the most challenges and identify those tasks that could benefit from technical solutions.
Here are just a few areas where workflow might be improved in an accounting firm:
There are so many ways to communicate today that it may seem impossible to optimize it to your firm’s advantage. Poor communication between clients, vendors, and staffers quickly results in confusion, mistakes, and frustration. You can make better use of everyone’s time by streamlining real-time communication as well as non-linear communication practices.
The first step is to establish an efficient communication system for the accounting firm. There are many different software programs available that include everything from instant messaging and meeting organizers to documenting interaction with clients. Establish which communication channels should be used for different tasks and hold training sessions on how to communicate clearly and concisely. Of course, take the time to periodically review the effectiveness of your firm’s communications efforts.
Whether your accounting firm deals with individual income taxes, corporate financial consulting, or tax resolution, project management is critical to timely and accurate customer service. In many instances, you may have several people working on a project with different deadlines, priorities, and responsibilities. Some of the benefits of a project management software include the ability to collaborate on projects, share documents, delegate tasks, maintain a schedule, and keep everything organized.
As an accounting firm, your team deals with plenty of documents, both physical and digital. Many of the associated tasks are repetitive and time-consuming, so finding ways to streamline the workflow associated with data entry or collecting and holding electronic files will save a lot of time and money. Whether it’s automatically requesting documents from the IRS on a client’s behalf, auto-populating standard forms, sending out invoices, or allowing clients to submit digital versions of their financial documents, many document-related tasks can be made easier using automation.
You want your accounting firm to be successful, so investing in ways to improve the workflow really elevates the efficiency of your employees and impacts the bottom line. By accomplishing more with your time by modifying more mundane tasks with proper automation, you’ll be able to pay more personal attention by expanding outreach and resources to current and future clients.
Improved accounting workflow also helps your firm keep its competitive edge. As rapidly as technology is transforming the accounting industry, it’s impossible to remain competitive if your firm is lagging in the latest innovations. If your competitors are automating their operations and improving their workflow, you’ll be playing catch-up instead of leading the way. Optimizing workflow offers both immediate and long-term benefits, but it should certainly be implemented with an overall strategy in mind that takes scalability into account.
With the right knowledge and strategy, automated tools that boost workflow are a huge value-add for your accounting firm and your clients. Partnering with companies like Canopy can help you build a solid foundation when it comes to automation and project management to help you and your employees do your jobs more effectively. If you're interested in seeing exactly how Canopy can improve your workflow, you can sign up for a demo.