Find and Implement a Workflow Tool Accountants Actually Use
If you’re looking for a better way to ensure consistent processes, it means the system(s) you use now are beginning to show signs of stress. Things like tasks falling through the cracks, some accountants aren’t working as diligently as they should, and/or others are beginning to burnout.
Translation: Improved processes needed.
But finding a workflow tool accountants actually use is often difficult. Whether or not you see this trouble in your own firm depends on a few factors:
- Choosing the best workflow tool for your organization
- Properly implementing the tool, ensuring use of all features offered
- Using some sort of workflow tracking system (hint: a good workflow software will have one)
Best Practices for Finding a Workflow Software
Understand What Your Firm Needs
Before you begin signing up for trials and setting up demo calls, you have to take an inward look at yourself and your business. The following are three questions to ask yourself (and the team). Reflect and develop solid answers; it’ll make choosing the right software easier.
Where can your firm improve?
Or: What’s prompting you to look for a workflow or project management tool? Are tasks late, can’t keep work from falling through the cracks? Having a hard time taking on new clients because your team is maxed out? Or are the margins not as high as they should be for the amount of work you’re putting out?
What about my specific role (as the owner/partner)?
This one is often difficult, but it’s important to understand how you may hinder the firm by causing unnecessary slowdowns (aka bottlenecks). It’s also one of the best reasons to utilize a process tool.
Because if you’re confident everything will get done properly, you’re able to pass it on and empower your team to do more. This passing of responsibility allows you to concentrate on growing your business. (Or actually enjoying your life!)
What are your business goals?
At this point, you know why you’re getting a workflow tool and how it’ll help improve the quality of your business. This question allows you to think about what you’ll do with the new well-oiled process machine.
- Spending less time on common services allows you to offer more services (i.e. payroll, advisory).
- Spend more time on marketing to increase your number of clients.
- Institute practices that attract and retain high-quality accountants to keep up with your current growth.
Understand What Each Tool Offers
We’ve compiled seven specific areas for evaluating a potential workflow solution. Here’s a very brief breakdown of each:
- Ease of Set Up: Things to look for here are training materials, a good knowledge base, or even done-for-you setup options.
- Day-to-Day Management: Is this a tool you can see yourself using, each and every day? What about your team?
- Features and Functionality: Use trials and demos to see exactly what the tools do. The better you know how it works, the more likely you are to succeed after you make a choice.
- Customer Service: See how you get ahold of service reps. Chat, phone, email? How long does it take them to respond?
- Price (and Cost): This is a two-fold criteria. One is the actual price (dollar amount) and the other is what you get for that fee. Check both for a better idea of cost.
- Integrations: Accountants use a bunch of software tools, and your workflow tool should work with them. This working-together is called an integration.
- Company Reviews: What are other people saying about this product? Take a look to see if they have testimonials/reviews on their site. Plus, you can go to software review sites, too.
Note: Our new Workflow Tool Buyer’s Guide is hot off the press! If you’re ready to take a deep dive into choosing the best software for your firm, this guide includes full instructions and a detailed review of the 11 best accounting practice solutions.
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Implementing the Workflow Tool Accounts Will Use
Design Workflows for Each Service
You’re telling me, the first step to using a workflow tool is to create…workflows?
All kidding aside, each service you provide to customers comes with a list of tasks. From there, these tasks are assigned to one or more members of your team. The more workflows you create, the more your team will utilize the software.
Plus, you’ll know each service is done the same way. As long as the tasks get checked off, the deliverables go out the way you intended.
Designing your workflow from scratch isn’t that easy, so a tool that provides templates is ideal (especially to begin quickly). Jetpack Workflow includes dozens of accounting-specific templates directly in the platform.
After you sign up, search through the library, click “Add,” and they’ll be automatically loaded to your templates.
Example: Add the “Month-end Close” template, and it’ll be available for your team each time to close the month for a client!
Use the Features that Make It Worthwhile for Your Team
Sometimes we worry (too much) what the team will think of big changes like implementing new processes. Instead of thinking everyone is going to reject the new, try and consider the benefits for them.
For example, certain features make processes much smoother for staff. A couple of examples include:
- Clearing up communication: Knowing where a certain document is, or who’s working on what, goes a long way toward a peaceful work environment. The less your team has to initiate communication on the “who, what, where” of work, the better.
- Smooth handoffs: Not only is the who, what, where better, but so is the “when” of it all. One example is using labels. Jetpack allows you to create 100 unique labels like, “waiting on client” or “ready for quality check,” so when your team logs in, they’ll know exactly what is ready, who’s to do it, where it is, and when it’s their turn to act.
Use the Workflow Tool to Better Manage the Team
A hub for everything your company does is a great thing. But if that hub empowered you, the firm owner, to better run said company, that’s where things get interesting.
In essence, workflow software provides a place for all systems and processes. A quality solution also provides clear reporting and tools to understand:
- The status of individual projects
- The status of individual teammates
- Ability to drill down into projects to better manage capacity (like Jetpack’s capacity planning capability)
- The real-time, detailed reports that allow you to see how well things are running
Processes Made Easier with Workflow Software
You’ve now read a crash course in finding a tool your team will actually use. Now it’s time to really dig into the competitors who promise ideal workflows, seamless practice management, and smooth processes.
Want a little more? Because Jetpack Workflow has just finished a detailed guide offering a massive list of criteria for choosing the best software for your firm. The resource even includes detailed reviews for the 11 most-used solutions. If you want it, here’s the link to get your copy!