Your team is growing, and so is your project list. It used to be easy enough to monitor what everyone was working on in real-time and which deadlines are looming. However, growth makes it more complicated to monitor all the moving pieces.
Each accounting project contains a series of steps involving several team members, from bookkeepers to accountants to consultants.
When simple to-do lists stop working, it’s time to start using project management software for your accounting or bookkeeping firm to foster sustained growth.
What Project Management Options Are Available for Accounting and Bookkeeping Firms?
Project management tools for CPA and bookkeeping firms range from pen and paper ledgers to customized accounting firm management platforms.
Spreadsheets and Shared To-Do Lists
Except for the smallest firms, project management is no longer accomplished with pen and paper. Most firms have moved their collaboration systems to email, spreadsheets, or shared task lists. Many firms will use a combination of these systems to piece together a project management process that might be sufficient enough for small firms.
The drawback of piecemeal systems is it’s easy to overlook items that might appear on a to-do list but don’t make it to a calendar reminder. Sometimes a team member will forget to check the spreadsheet for upcoming tasks and not receive a reminder that the client is expecting a deliverable.
This project management method also makes it difficult to determine if you have resources which are not being fully utilized or team members who could take on additional work, especially for larger financial firms. You’ll need to regularly check in with your team to gauge workloads, which can be a time-consuming process.
Accounting and Bookkeeping Workflow Software
To save time and improve your profitability, you should consider implementing accounting and bookkeeping workflow software. With an accounting workflow software solution, all tasks are entered, completion of each step is tracked, and team member workloads are monitored.
Accounting and bookkeeping workflow software comes preloaded with templates designed with accounting and bookkeeping firms in mind, while allowing you to customize the templates with custom fields based on your specific needs and workflows.
Additionally, workflow software has integrated reminders which nudge team members to complete upcoming tasks, allow you to track client interactions and updates, and help you manage your time tracking and billing. Integrated solutions prevent you from having to enter tasks in multiple spots and having several forms of overlapping communication about projects. These integrated software solutions minimize the time you spend managing the project and maximize the time your team spends on projects.
The best workflow software allows you to quickly onboard new clients, assign relevant tasks, load predefined templates, and get to work.
How Jira Works for Accounting and Bookkeeping Firms
Jira was designed to facilitate issue tracking and project management. It sounds great, but is it the best solution for accounting and bookkeeping firms? Jira was designed for use in software development, although it has been adopted as project management software in various industries.
Jira allows you to create tasks, assign tasks to team members, and monitor your resource allocation. The built-in features include the ability to track user stories and plan project sprints - two of its top features. However, those are not really relevant for accounting firms. Jira also allows you to track project releases, which again makes sense for software development, but less so for accounting or bookkeeping projects.
Jira also allows you to create workflows for your project. However, the built-in templates are related to software development and do not include any predefined accounting templates. You can spend time building your own templates, but the initial setup requires a significant investment of time.
Integration with other applications is another key feature of Jira. However, Jira does not integrate with any of the most popular accounting software such as QuickBooks or Xero (although it does provide some limited integration with QuickBooks for invoicing your client). Each client and project will need to be individually entered into the software.
Jira is organized first by the board and then by the project. It can be challenging to decide how to fit an accounting or bookkeeping firm’s project structure into Jira’s layout. Should each project have its own board and then be redefined for each client? Will having a board for each client become unwieldy for large firms? Will having team members able to access all of your clients cause information overload?
Jira also does not include an integrated recurring task feature. There are apps in the Jira marketplace allowing for the creation of recurring tasks, but the ability is not native to Jira. While accounting tasks are usually recurring by nature, Jira was simply not designed with accounting or bookkeeping firms in mind.
Lastly, Jira does have integrated messaging capability, which can help move projects along and keep client notes in a single place accessible by all team members assigned to the client. Jira might be a good solution for an accounting department which is part of a large organization, especially if the organization is in a tech related field.
Best Alternatives to Jira
Jira might work for an accounting firm, although you might also be able to keep using your spreadsheets to track your work. Just because it might work for you, does that mean it’s an ideal solution? Below are some alternatives to Jira which may be a better fit for your accounting firm.
Best Solution for Accountants and Bookkeepers
While Jira may work best for software development firms, Jetpack Workflow is a project management tool built from the ground up specifically for accounting and bookkeeping firms.
Jetpack Workflow was designed to manage long client lists, multiple projects per client, and teams where various team members are responsible for different parts of projects. This all-in-one project management solution helps firms increase client satisfaction by staying on top of projects and improving the quality of their work product by ensuring the right team members are assigned to each task and have adequate time to complete it.
If you’re considering giving Jetpack Workflow a try, a free 14-day trial is available. If you’re not sure if you’re ready to jump into accounting workflow management software just yet, check out these free templates in the meantime.
Best for Firms on a Budget
If your firm’s budget is tight, using spreadsheets or pen and paper are your best bets. While these options don’t cost anything financially, there is a cost in time and efficiency. Balancing the cost of a tool versus the cost of your employee’s time should be carefully factored when considering each of these low-cost options.
Best for Large Companies with Many Departments
If you work for a large company with several departments not limited to just accounting or bookkeeping, Monday.com or Airtable are options to consider. They both have a user-friendly interface and are easy to learn. Various departments can create tasks, message each other, and create workflow templates through these tools.