When researching leading project management tools on the market, Asana is named frequently in lists of the most popular workflow software. It’s widely used by sales and marketing, product development, and IT teams.
But is it the best choice for your accounting practice?
According to Sage, 83% of accountants in 2020 reported that they’re investing more in new technologies to manage their firms. Due to rapid technological advancements and a culture of digitalization, rapid adoption of software to automate and support processes is critical to both internal team efficiency and external client management.
It’s likely that choosing the best technology is one of your top strategic initiatives to power the next stage of growth for your firm to reach its financial goals. But which one should you choose?
While Asana is commonly used, there are a number of additional options for a project management tool designed specifically for bookkeepers and accountants. This guide will review the top alternatives and help guide you towards the right software based on the needs of your business, so you and your team can do your best work.
Options for Project Management for Accounting Firms
When you’re looking to manage the flow of tasks and dependencies for all client work in your firm, there are essentially two options: you can either rely on a web of spreadsheets and manually track your processes and work completed, or you can adopt a workflow software as a central hub of activity.
There are benefits and drawbacks to both options:
Spreadsheets and Checklists
If you’re a solo operator with limited clients, maybe designing a spreadsheet that makes sense to you, and using a library of checklists to keep track of tasks completed will work for you.
This way of tracking work is essentially the digital version of putting pen to paper. It probably makes sense to start out this way, especially when you’re still figuring out the right processes to match the types of clients you take on.
However, as you scale, the time you spend on manual task updates can begin to cut into your profit margins, because time is currency.
According to McKinsey, 6 out of 10 jobs have more than 30% of activities that could be automated. Imagine if you could save 30% of your time on an average week? Even the most well-crafted spreadsheet system won’t be able to deliver that return.
Accounting Firm Workflow Software
Once it begins to make sense to introduce automation into your workflow, software designed specifically for accounting firms can have an impact.
Technology is only beneficial if you can mold it to fit the way you naturally work. Customization is key. No one wants to change their whole process just for the sake of automation. You want a solution that naturally works with your current workflow.
However, choosing a software that is a complete blank slate can present another challenge. Spending an inordinate amount of time setting up accounting-specific processes is going to delay your time to ramp up on the software considerably. That’s where accounting firm workflow software comes in.
While you likely have a firm-specific way of completing tasks, accounting firms are similar in the types of work they complete for clients. The best accounting firm software options set new users up with easy onboarding by providing templates, pre-loaded workflows, and plenty of customer support to ensure they can begin using the tool quickly and adding time back into your day.
When choosing an accounting firm workflow software, look for products that are built specifically with tax professionals, bookkeepers, and accountants in mind. Some of the options in the market include Jetpack Workflow, Canopy, Karbon, and Aero Workflow. However, Jetpack Workflow is the only modern software built specifically for an accountant’s workflow complete with straightforward pricing.
Asana for Accounting Firms
Using Asana for your accounting firm is possible as well. But Asana falls more into the category of a general project management platform. It’s not specifically set up for accounting professionals, and it won’t come complete with workflows and templates to speed up the time to onboard yourself and other task assignees.
However, there is still value in considering Asana. For one, it’s widely used across many types of companies, and it’s designed for collaboration between cross-functional teams. If you’re an in-house accounting team, Asana could be the right fit because you can easily work with other members of different sides of the entire organization, and you’ll all be using the same task management process.
Another benefit of Asana is the ability to show work in different views. Some team members may prefer to see a list of all of their tasks, while others may like a Kanban board perspective. One of the reasons Asana is so popular is users have the ability to visualize task information the way they prefer.
How Asana Works
If you decide to use Asana for your accounting firm, what do you need to do to get it setup?
The first step in Asana is creating a project for a specific client, where all tasks will live. Asana has pre-made project templates for many industries, from IT to HR, but there are no finance or accounting specific options. You’ll be working from a default project template, so you’ll have to design your ideal project blueprint on your own.
Once this is done, you’ll begin to make it specific to your workflow by doing the following:
- Setting up different project sections that relate to different phases of the work.
- Creating groups of tasks within each project section.
- Building automations, complete with task dependencies, that can be replicated across multiple projects or clients.
- Deciding what view you’d like to visualize your work: timeline, calendar, list, or board.
- Use an Asana integration (there are over 200 available) to connect to other systems you may currently use, including Zoom, Google Drive, Slack, and many more.
It’s fully customizable, but factor in the time it will take to conduct this setup process, and you’ll likely find value in Asana once you have it tailored to your firm.
Best Asana Alternatives for Accounting Firms
Don’t have the time to spend getting Asana to work for you? Luckily, there are plenty of other options that are built with the accounting industry in mind.
There are a number of software review sites you check for objective reviews of accounting business technology. In your research, make sure you’re reading what authentic users (often accounting firm owners) have to say about each software, and the adoption curve for each.
Best Overall Accounting Workflow Tool
The best one-stop-shop for any accounting, bookkeeping, or tax audit firm looking for finance-specific workflows is Jetpack Workflow.
Jetpack Workflow is built with the user experience in mind. Plus, it’s built for users with a focus on precision, clarity, and compliance. It’s essential for every accountant to ensure their workflow software hits two main business goals: complete milestones on time for their clients, and guarantee quality with every deliverable.
Setting up your firm on Jetpack Workflow is one of the fastest, easiest parts of the process. There are over 70 free templates ready to go in Jetpack Workflow’s library, or you can create your own in just seconds.
Once you’re set up with the right workflow template, you can easily forward an email to your workspace, and it will automatically create tasks for you and your team. It’s simple to design dependencies and subtasks, and then track work across your team to see where you need to expand capacity to fulfill deadlines on time.
Customer service provides excellent communication and you can even opt to have a guided onboarding assist you and your team for an additional cost.
Best Audit and Tax Solution
If you’re in the market for a tax and audit specific platform, Karbon is a potential winner. Karbon markets itself as a collaboration platform for teams in the accounting field or other professional business services. It’s a place to track work and communicate about deadlines.
Karbon offers performance analytics on your team, email insights, workflow automation, and client management capabilities, which is key when managing time-sensitive work like tax returns.
Best Accounting Client CRM Platform
Looking for a platform to store docs and your client information, and essentially run a small business in one place? Canopy could be the answer. It’s more than just a project management tool. It provides a CRM as well. The drawback is the pricing structure is somewhat expensive and confusing, and as your business grows, so will your costs.