If you’re going to use a tool to manage how the team works together, you want the best collaboration software, right? After all, collaboration is an important member of the healthy accounting firm’s trifecta. The entire triangle of team delight includes:
- Processes: Every dotted “i” and crossed “t” for every service and function of your business.
- Workflow design: How all of those processes actually flow to your business and the team.
- Team collaboration: How your team works together along the path of that workflow to accomplish each process. (Things like communication, handoffs, doc sharing; the list goes on.)
A collaboration software is a tool that enables your team to share critical items (tasks, docs, notes), client data, and anything else that’s mission critical. These tools also allow teammates to um… collaborate throughout the workflow.
To put it simply, collaboration tools bind together what you do (processes/deliverables) with the how (workflow, communication, teamwork).
It’s important to note that all teamwork tech is not created equal. There are a number of things to consider when finding the best collab tool, for you and your team.
Why Collaboration Software Is Important
Most firms have some sort of project management or client management system. How the team communicates and handles the work, on the other hand, is often a bit more Wild West-ish. The workflow often includes a hodgepodge of email strings, messaging apps, text, and even handwritten notes!
Key Point: Collaboration software (used properly) enhances the overall project process in your firm. Which leads us to our first reason why having one is important.
Efficiency, Productivity, and Culture
Everything your firm does requires planning, assigning, leading, and quality control. What part of that doesn’t involve collaboration?
Many of the toughest challenges in firms we speak with often deal with a few collaborative issues.
- Client information is spread across several tools or different systems that don’t inherently work well together
- Tasks are getting lost when shuffling from one teammate to another
- You’re growing, hiring, and finding it difficult to set clear expectations and get new staff up to speed quickly
Now, imagine a single place for all client data/docs, team notes/emails, and a hub of every process/service completed by your firm. Efficiency leads to productivity, productivity leads to improved culture, and improved culture leads to a healthy accounting firm.
Great Teamwork Is Vital For Customer Success
You’re not the only one benefiting from collaboration. The businesses you serve get better service. No cracks for things to slip through. The right person is actually following up with them (when they’re supposed to, even). Reports and deliverables are on time.
Proper teamwork allows you (as the owner) to:
- Ensure no one is overloaded (if the software you’re using has capacity planning capabilities)
- Spend more time with clients to better understand their accounting needs
- Add more services to the roster (like advisory or fractional CFO)
Point is: it’s a win-win. Now, onto the things you want in the type of software of which we’re speaking.
What to Look For In a Collaboration Software
Know How You Collaborate (Right Now)
This one isn’t always the most fun. Tougher still if you’re a firm who has a little data over here, some numbers over in that thing, and docs spread across a couple of sharing platforms.
But in order to fix the root of those issues we mentioned earlier, you’ve got to know two things:
- Exactly how you do each thing you do (all of the tasks associated with each service, process, and administrative duty in your firm)
- How these things move from beginning to end, A to Z, from “gotta do” all the way to “done”
Particularly in the “how,” it’s important to note a few things:
- Who specifically does certain things/tasks within a particular process
- Multiple teammates? How do they communicate? Is there a transition(s)? How does it get to “done”?
- What other processes are connected to the particular process in question? (e.g. The marketing/sales/discovery process is connected to the new client write up, which is connected to each service that new clients signed on to get)
Pretty soon, you’ll string every aspect of your firm together, piece by piece. Again, not the funnest thing in the world, but oh when you’re done... Such a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment will wash over you.
Look At All of the Features
A collaboration software is more than a messaging app or a way for your team to chat with one another. Some tools go beyond the basics to provide a number of useful features accountants need.
Since there is a wide variety of tech available, it’s important to look over the features of these solutions.
A few things to keep in mind:
- How well does the tool merge processes with collaboration? Are there features that would enhance both what you do and how you do it?
- What comes with the price of admission? Most of these tools are a monthly subscription. Some limit the number of users (your team), or clients you can add, or resources (e.g. documents) it’ll hold. Be sure to go to the pricing page and look at the features “line-by-line” for each plan.
- How’s Their Support? Training? Reviews? Everything you do inside of an app sounds great...so long as you trust the company hosting it. Take a look at their support (phone, chat, email). Do they have tutorials and helpful resources? Check out their reviews, case studies, and testimonials.
- Does the Collaboration Tool Collaborate? It sounds weird to ask if a piece of tech works well with other tech, but it’s really important to your success. These are called integrations. And while you can’t cut out all other software (like QBO, Gusto, etc.) they should work together with other aspects of your workflow setup.
Team Collaboration Made Easier with a Workflow Software
Ok, you got us. Jetpack Workflow is a workflow software that includes the inherent ability for teams to flawlessly collaborate. Share notes, connect email, and message the team inside the place that holds every single task, process, and procedure in your firm.
Plus, many of the other things mentioned like capacity planning, unlimited docs/clients, and even process templates specifically for accounting firms. Ready to see for yourself? Try Jetpack Workflow for free for 14 days.