Transitioning to Workflow for Your Accounting Firm
Transitioning to Workflow (from someone who doesn’t keep time, track time or bill for time and never will again)
Workflow is the most underutilized software in the accounting world and part of it is due to traditional firm management by timesheet.
Now even though I hate timesheets and believe you do not need them to run a successful firm, what I do think is missing from most practice management is workflow software.
Time and billing is not workflow software.
Too many firms believe that is all they need to run a successful firm.
Workflow software will give you much better insight into the actual work that’s getting done in your firm.
Don’t worry. This post isn’t going to be about killing the timesheet. We can save that for another day.
Instead, I want to focus on managing without a timesheet or with one for extraneous information, if you absolutely won’t trash it.
One of the most important firm management tools then becomes workflow software.
At my firm, New Vision CPA Group, we have been on the path to find the perfect workflow software for almost 10 years and have tried many of the different products out there. I’m sure many of them have evolved since we have tried and shelved them, just because the world has evolved as well.
But why is workflow so important to a firm that doesn’t track time?
Simply put, because it tracks work.
It tells you where everything is, at any given moment.
Hello, management of work…not time. Isn’t that what our focus should be on?
Well, that and deadlines.
Add in a remote worker and now you can actually run a firm based on outputs, not time spent.
In the old days, you could walk around the office and see who had the biggest pile of files on their desk or floor. Today workflow software gives me the exact same insight without being a helicoptering managing partner.
Believe me, my team really appreciates this.
Now, I can do it just as discreetly like when you used to snoop around after your team members went home. I can see exactly where the piles are collecting and the bottlenecks are happening. And I can follow-up appropriately – especially when this person is a remote worker.
All a timesheet does is tell the partner the team member who spent too much time on a task, it doesn’t highlight what they are currently working on or what’s on their plate to finish. This is why firms need to adopt workflow software.
We currently use CCH Axcess Workstream for tax workflow management, and Jetpack Workflow for pretty much everything else: bookkeeping, quarterly reviews, and payroll. We chose to keep our tax workflow connected to our tax returns because in suite connectedness to prep, review, and e-file is important to me. However, we needed an additional solution for everything else and Jetpack fit those needs well.
The transition to utilizing workflow software is a fairly easy learning curve.
Think about it: it’s makes sense.
However, setup is critical to get the most out of your software. But more on that later. In the meantime, if you are looking for a better way to manage a firm and possibly getting rid of your timesheet, pick a workflow product to support managing work, not time. You’ll be better off in the long run.
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