project management for accountants

Successful project management for accounting firms is more than setting up a timeline for deliverables and estimating project costs. 

It also requires you to effectively manage client expectations and not let obstacles or mounting pressures compromise the quality of your work. 

For the growing number of firms with teams working remotely or with a hybrid model, having proper project management systems in place becomes even more essential. 

If you’d like to improve how your firm manages projects so you never miss a client deadline, this guide can help. We’ll walk you through several integral project management topics: 

  • 3 key project management steps
  • Adapting to the challenges of remote/hybrid work
  • 5 common pitfalls and how to overcome them
  • Top project management tools for accountants and accounting firms
  • Actionable tips from other successful firm owners 


The 3 Essential Steps of Project Management 


1. Initiation

Effective project management begins by defining the scope and objectives of the project. Setting proper expectations with clients on deliverables and due dates is critical to avoiding scope creep and surpassing a project’s budget. 

During this initiation phase, ensure your client understands what the project does and doesn’t entail. Be clear about what you require from them, like providing financial documents by a specific date. 

Internally, take a broader look at the project and affirm it aligns with your client’s overall financial goals. Also, confirm you and your team can deliver the project according to relevant regulatory standards before you even begin. 


2. Planning

Next, begin creating a detailed plan for completing the project. Depending on its scope, you may have to break it down into smaller assignments or milestones with individual deadlines. That helps keep the entire project manageable and on track. 

Then, determine your resource allocation for the project. How many staff members and hours might you need to complete it? That gives you a better idea of the billable hours required, the time needed, and how profitable the project might be. 

It’s best to build extra time into your project planning to account for any obstacles you might run into. This buffer helps your team do their job well while staying on budget and schedule. 


Extra:  Ready to get your workflow and processes at your firm better organized? Download our 32 free accounting workflow templates & checklists to ramp up your firm’s productivity.



3. Execution

With a plan in place, your team can execute the project. Effective team collaboration is vital to producing high-quality work and completing the project on time. Be sure each team member understands the tasks they’re responsible for and has the proper resources and support they need to do their job correctly. 

Track the project’s progress in real time to ensure your costs match your budget. By catching any over-budget costs early, you can quickly determine where the issue is and adjust accordingly. 



The Challenge of Managing Remote and Hybrid Teams

Accounting firms must continue to evolve as remote and hybrid work models become more popular within the industry. By adapting and modernizing your operations, you can attract and retain talent. 

However, as a remote or hybrid firm, you may encounter some unique challenges that impact effective project management. 

For instance, less face-to-face interaction between remote teams and their clients can cause misunderstandings or lack of clarity on a task or deliverables. This communication breakdown can put the success of a project at risk.

When you’re not working together in person, it’s also hard to monitor your team’s productivity on a day-to-day basis. As a result, project managers overseeing remote team members may be micromanaging to compensate. 

Remote teams can be just as effective and productive as in-office teams. 

The solution is to adhere to project management best practices and maintain clear communication. Regular check-ins and helpful workflow management software can help you stay on top of projects and deliver high-quality service. 


5 Common Pitfalls of Project Management for Accountants


1. Scope Creep

If you or someone on your team agrees to additional deliverables or tasks outside the original project scope, it can quickly derail your progress. 

You’re more likely to exceed your budget and timeline. It can also adversely impact your team, leaving them with a bigger workload than initially anticipated. 

To help protect yourself against project boundary expansions, start by setting clear expectations with your clients during the initiation phase. Lay out the deliverables in writing, and have your client sign the document so you’re on the same page before the project begins. 


2. Hiring Challenges

It’s no secret the accounting industry has struggled to hire new employees lately. Qualified accountants are in short supply in the United States, making it difficult for CPA firms to fill vacancies as staff members retire or leave to follow a new career path. 

Being short-staffed means you may not be able to complete jobs as efficiently as you did in the past. However, you can still attract and retain top talent by getting more creative and strategic. 

For example, you can expand your talent search beyond your primary location by offering hybrid or remote work. Since many accountants now prefer working remotely following the pandemic, that can make your firm more attractive to potential hires. 

Some firms are also bypassing the traditional “150-hour rule.” Doing so widens the pool of accounting professionals who have valuable work experience, even if they aren’t licensed CPAs. 


3. Regulatory Compliance

An evolving regulatory landscape is another potential hurdle for effective accounting project management. As new regulations and compliance standards emerge on the federal, state, or local level, they can impact how your firm operates and the amount of work or reporting required for a given project. 

The best way to navigate these changes is to stay informed on any new compliance regulations and be proactive by quickly updating your operations and workflows. 

Since most new laws and compliance standards don’t go into effect immediately, you should have enough time to adjust your project management practices accordingly. 


4. Adapting to New Technologies 

Many new tools and tech are available to help accounting firms modernize their project management processes and become more efficient. Integrating these tools can greatly benefit your firm in the long run. 

However, adopting new technologies and getting your team members up to speed on using them takes time. 

If you’re not careful, replacing traditional project management systems with new software programs can make workflows more clunky and inefficient. An incremental technology rollout is the best approach. 

So, rather than completely overhauling all back-end operations with brand-new technology, be practical and methodical when introducing a new software or tool. 

Gradually phase in new tools over time to avoid overwhelming your team. Schedule regular training sessions with your staff to help them become well-acquainted with the program. 


5. Client Communication Breakdown

Poor client communication can lead to conflicting expectations and project derailment. You must maintain clear and transparent communication with your clients to avoid misunderstandings about the work and the due dates. 

Though constant communication with your clients isn’t necessary, you can provide them with regular updates, especially for projects of a longer duration. 

Additionally, should roadblocks or other issues arise, share them with your client to keep them in the loop and maintain their trust in your firm. 

Good communication and a structured plan go a long way toward building a positive long-term client relationship. 


The Best Project Management Tools for Accountants 

The right project management tools can keep your team on track and help you avoid the common pitfalls discussed above. 

These software solutions let you monitor progress on project tasks, oversee what each team member is working on, and assess the work that still needs to be done by the deadline. 


Jetpack Workflow

Jetpack Workflow is a workflow and project management solution specifically designed for accounting firms. Accountants, bookkeepers, and firm owners can use the software to manage projects and processes, automate critical deadlines, and track task progress so no client work slips through the cracks.



Plus, you can prioritize tasks within Jetpack Workflow so your team always knows what to focus on next. The platform’s convenient Progress Report helps project managers monitor their team’s work and gauge what milestones still need to be met for better planning. 

Users can also mass assign tasks and build checklists and workflow templates to systemize repetitive client work. 

Here are Jetpack Workflow’s main features: 

  • Organize and standardize your checklists with templates and apply them to any client with just one click.
  • Automate essential deadlines.
  • Customize your workspace view with sort, filter, and search features so you can always find a specific task or client. 
  • Mass assign tasks and workflows to clients for better efficiency.
  • Access a comprehensive overview of each staff member’s work to monitor their progress easily. 
  • See what tasks are due today, this week, or are overdue for better prioritization.
  • Receive a daily automated summary email listing all tasks needing completion.
  • Integrate seamlessly with 2,000+ other business apps through Zapier to implement task automation.

Pricing: There are two plans available. The Organize plan is $45 per user / month, billed annually which includes access to all core features. And the Scale plan, which is $49 per user / month, billed annually and has the core features plus capacity management and team scheduling. Start your 14-day free trial or schedule your demo here



Asana is a task and project management tool that teams across many industries at any stage can utilize. The platform helps teams collaborate on projects, track progress, and monitor approaching deadlines. Here are some of the key features of Asana:

  • Project management 
  • Task management
  • Multiple project views
  • Custom templates
  • Task dependencies
  • Rule-based automation

Pricing: For individuals and small teams, there is a free plan. However, growing firms will likely want to access more advanced features through the Starter plan at $10.99/user per month or the Advanced plan at $24.99/user per month. Larger businesses and enterprises can contact Asana for customized pricing for their Enterprise plans. is a customer relationship management (CRM) solution and task management software that allows teams to collaborate and visualize their pipeline. Some of the main features of the platform include: 

  • Task management
  • Resource management
  • Goal tracking
  • Custom workflows
  • Customizable board view
  • Mobile app

Pricing: Free plan for up to two users, but larger firms need a paid plan to support more users.’s paid plans start at $8/user per month. 


5 Tips to Help Any Accounting Project Go Smoothly


1. Automate Wherever Possible

Free up your team’s time for more complex and strategic work by integrating software that automates data entry, transaction matching, and other time-consuming tasks. 

For repetitive tasks that don’t require much oversight, leveraging a good automation tool is especially helpful for becoming more efficient so you can focus on completing billable client work.

Some examples of the standard tasks that accounting firms automate include: 

  • Managing client communication through automated reminders and follow-ups
  • Sending automated or recurring invoices on a set schedule or billing cycle
  • Automatic tracking and categorizing of expenses in accounting software
  • Using workflow management software to automate task assignment 
  • Leveraging automated bank reconciliation tools to check for discrepancies
  • Generating automated reports for a real-time view of a client’s financial standing
  • Building rule-based automation and task dependencies in various business applications using Zapier


2. Streamline Communication

Effective project management depends on clear communication with team members and clients. 

Establish communication protocols using tools like Slack for instant messaging and Zoom for virtual meetings to ensure your team members stay informed and connected, even when working remotely. 


3. Use Cloud-Based Solutions

Cloud-based platforms help enhance collaboration among your team by allowing staff to access and update financial records from anywhere. It’s particularly beneficial for remote teams to complete their work on time. 

These platforms can even allow you to share current data with clients, which helps them see the progress you’re making in real time. That added transparency can build trust and confidence with your clients, as they can see you’re hitting project milestones on time. 

If your firm isn’t using cloud-based accounting software like QuickBooks Online or Xero, give these platforms a test run with a free trial so you can experience their features. 

Integrating with these programs gives your staff access to the relevant financial information they need, ensuring they use only the latest and most up-to-date data for better accuracy. 


4. Invest in Training

Develop a training program to keep your team’s skills sharp on the latest accounting software and project management trends. 

That helps your team acquire new skills and abilities, which directly benefit your clients. Plus, it can be a great selling point when recruiting top adaptable talent with a continuous learning mindset. 

Consider setting aside a few hours or an afternoon each month to let your team review new updates and feature releases in your software programs. You can also discuss any new project management practices you’re implementing in the firm. 

Additionally, this gives staff an open forum for sharing tips or asking questions about using certain software features. They’ll also have the chance to discuss any other concerns or ideas related to project management based on their hands-on experience. 


5. Monitor Progress Closely

To ensure you hit critical project deadlines on time, closely monitor your team’s progress on tasks and milestones. 

With a convenient workflow management software like Jetpack Workflow, you can easily see what each team member is working on, spot upcoming due dates, and identify any tasks at risk of being missed or overdue. 

The platform even provides user-friendly dashboards and reporting features to recognize and mitigate bottlenecks early.


See Jetpack Worflow In Action

Get under the hood of Jetpack Workflow’s accounting workflow and project management platform. See some of the top features and how it helps your firm standardize, automate, and track client work more efficiently.