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accountants and bookkeepers

How to manage workflow in your practice

Accounting and bookkeeping firms tell us they have never been busier. We’re a couple of months into a new financial year – which would normally keep everyone busy enough – then add the client queries and associated workload the pandemic has provided, and it’s a lot to manage.

So when it comes to managing your practice workflow, it’s important you and your team feel confident you’re on top of things and nothing is slipping through the cracks. Let’s take a look at some of the key issues.

Communicating with clients

Managing communications between you, your team and your clients is a key building block to managing workflow.

Real time communications require both parties being present like a virtual meeting, a phone call, online chat session or face to face meeting (remember those?!).

Non-linear communications like email and texting can be more efficient when one party is unavailable—or the request isn’t urgent or is simple to communicate.

We’re seeing more and more firms wanting to provide transparency in their client communications so everyone in the practice can easily see where requests are at. This push for transparency puts traditional tools like email at a disadvantage where the communication is seen and stored in a single user’s inbox.

Fortunately QuickBooks Online Accountant users are able to send messages, files and requests to clients, and receive replies, all without leaving their workflow. Integrations with tools like Karbon for example that provide a platform that enables firms to share and organise client related emails mean everyone in the office can see what is happening and who is working on it.

It probably goes without saying however with many of us working from home at the moment, it’s also important to implement tools that can be easily accessed online.

Cloud-based solutions have the upside of enabling anywhere access but also up to the minute access – which in turn makes answering client queries less stressful than trying to find their file or walking around the office to learn where their query is up to.

Allocating work

Accounting and bookkeeping firms manage a lot of individual client tasks during the course of the year. Knowing what work is being completed, who’s working on what and what work they have coming up goes a long way to feeling in control.

We see firms using a variety of tools to manage their jobs. These range from manual methods like a daily updated to-do list or a whiteboard listing all the work in progress jobs, through to software solutions like Trello, and even Excel. All of these tools have strengths and weaknesses; it’s simply a matter of working out what works best for you and your team.

When it comes to managing your firm’s workload and allocating work to your team members, features like being able to easily record and update jobs, to set up recurring jobs, to define the steps to complete is tasks (for team consistency) and task allocation visibility across the firm is key.

Industry tools like QuickBooks Online Accountant and Karbon have been designed to specifically support accounting and bookkeeping firms to keep track of everything going on in the practice so nothing falls through the cracks. Whatever tool you choose, do your homework and make sure it integrates with the key systems and processes in your firm.

Resource planning

Every firm we talk to wants to be more productive. They want everyone working efficiently and getting through the work as quickly as possible. And so do your clients.

Knowing, thereby managing, the capacity of your team is another key goal for many firms to keep the work flowing. Being able to effectively see what work is allocated to which team members today, this week, next week, next month helps you maximize the throughput of your team – and help set expectations with clients where required.

In addition to managing the workload of your team, managing how they complete work creates consistency and efficiency across your team.

We often hear firms say they rely on work papers or checklists to streamline their processes as well as ensure all team members, especially new team members, are completing tasks the same fashion across the team. Systems that let you define your processes give you the flexibility to do things the way you want them completed.

Every accounting and bookkeeping firm is different, yet every firm has a common goal to operate more efficiently.

That efficiency comes from having the tools in place that support the processes of your firm that are determined and implemented by your team.

If you would like to learn more about how the free workflow tools in QuickBooks Online Accountant can help you manage your practice workflow, contact your account manager or call the team on 1800 618 521.

Case study: How QuickBooks Tax and Karbon’s workflow management tools saved one firm around 6,300 hours and $218,000 in non-productive work

Adarsh Dutt, co-founder of Oyster Hub-Accountants Brokers & Consultants, talks about his holistic approach to accounting and how that mindset has landed him as a winner in the 2021 Australian Accounting Awards.

Adarsh relies on QuickBooks and the Karbon workflow management tool to run the business and automate many tasks. Each year, he estimates this tool helps him save around 6,300 hours and $218,000 in non-productive work and perform tasks that are equivalent to the work of two staff members.

Read Adarsh’s story here.

Free access to QuickBooks Tax, powered by Lodgeit, and discounts on Karbon Work Management Software are just two of the benefits QuickBooks Online Accountant ProAdvisors enjoy.

Find out more about the ProAdvisor Program and join today.

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