Posted by & filed under Growing Your Firm Podcast, Growth, Workflow Excellence.

Heather Satterley is the owner and founder of Saturday Training and Consulting, and you may remember her from our previous podcast on How to Implement New Accounting Softwares. She helps put the tools and systems in place to help firms scale more profitably and increase productivity, similar to Jetpack Workflow. She’s a member of the Intuit Trainer Writer Network, cohost of The ‘Appy Hour with Liz and Heather, and the founding partner of Back Office Ally.

We were excited to chat with Heather again to hear her insights about the best apps and integrations to optimize your app use. Read on to learn about Heather’s brilliantly simple automation techniques and tactics that can transform your business.

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Summary

  • Automation Necessities: Three Common Frustrations
  • How to Automate Your Firm with Zapier: Mapping Your Processes

Automation Necessities

Heather Satterley focuses on automation and guiding accounting professionals in streamlining their internal processes through the use of technology and automation tools like Zapier. Heather tells us that a typical client engagement involves investigating the current processes in their firm and trying to identify the areas that are not as efficient or as effective as they should be.

These are the main pain spots that will always remain a problem, especially if there is not enough effort being put into documenting knowledge. Business owners will always feel overwhelmed because everything’s in their brain. So even if you’re not planning on hiring, profitability increases can happen through documenting processes.

Three Common Frustrations

  1. Onboarding Employees. Imagine being busy and not stopping to actually document what the steps are in each client’s process. After you’ve pulled in some very talented new hires, now you have to train them. However, lacking documentation makes it difficult to train your recent hires and, by extension, scale your firm. They would not be equipped to do their job tasks in an efficient or effective manner.

    The one thing Heather advises her clients is to always document processes. Fortunately, we have Jetpack Workflow. It allows you to put your processes into a system, organize them, and notify each employee about what they’re supposed to do and when. To find out how Jetpack Workflow can help you in your documentation processes, check out our previous interview with Veronica Wasek.

  2. Manual Record-Keeping. Firms are often manually entering the same data into all the systems they have. Many firms assign client onboarding to someone, or a group of people, and they often enter client information that gathered from paper forms. It takes a lot of time, and it’s really expensive.
  3. Client Communications. Many don’t take the importance of effective communication, or being able to effectively communicate with their clients, seriously. But ineffective communication is the root of the previous two pain spots. A lot of firms are still stuck in emails or making phone calls. Here the challenge is introducing businesses to applications like Slack or Microsoft Teams, or other apps with communication built right into the workflow system. Jetpack Workflow is a good example, enabling you to email clients from within the app. The goal is to streamline your communications and keep everything in one place so that your businesses can focus more on advisory work, which is more valuable to the client and the firm.

How to Automate Your Firm with Zapier

Zapier is an application that allows a user to automate actions. For example, when you create a shared folder, upload a file, and then send it in an email, you can create a “zap” for when you upload the file, it triggers another email detailing the next steps in a process. You can even use Zapier with apps like MailChimp to automate that as well, for some of these apps have automations built into their app that work nicely with Zapier.

Map Your Processes

If you imagine building processes into Zapier little by little, there may be some who think using Zapier sounds very complicated. Some may take baby steps, dipping their toes into this new world of having software applications talk with each other and trigger different events. Other firm owners ponder a completely different question:

How do I approach Zapier without feeling overwhelmed?

Fortunately, Heather offers a step-by-step process to ease uncertainty while using Zapier:

  1. Map out what you’re doing now. You can use paper or even a spreadsheet to write out your processes and their steps.
  2. Estimate how long it takes to complete the process. After you’ve quantified how much time it’s taking to complete the steps and process, identify the step or steps that take the most amount of time to complete.
  3. Consider integrating technology. Once you’ve identified the parts of the processes that take an exceedingly long time to complete, look for technology that will help you to recover time used to complete the process.

We previously mentioned that one of the pain spots was manual record-keeping. Let’s say you have gotten through and discovered that you spend a lot of time getting, maintaining, and processing records. Step 3 would require you to develop a tech stack, a series of apps or technologies, that will help perform record keeping processes efficiently.

You might use Google Form or an Air Table form to gather information. After a client gives you information through Google Forms, there may be other apps you can use to engage the client like Ignition, an engagement letter and proposal app. You could even send information from Ignition to MailChimp to send newsletters.

As mentioned before, some apps have a native integration with Zapier, but one of the awesome things about Zapier is the ability to create the integration exactly the way you want using the no-code platform. So Zapier is not only efficient and a must-have in your work flow arsenal, but it is also very adaptable and can integrate various apps you may choose for your tech stack.

Listen to the full episode to fully maximize your workflow. Heather Satterly can be found at satterlyconsulting.com, and you can start automating your firm with Zapier at Zapier.com.

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