How the Right Accounting Practice Management Software Can Change Your Business
Running a modern accounting firm is tough. Many tools make individual employees more efficient, but not many tools to take your whole firm to the next level. You need to layer together the tools, people, and other resources to run a high performance firm.
Enter the accounting practice management software. Our brains are not made to keep track of everything that we need them to. You need project management software so every client receives the individualized attention they deserve.
What is Practice Management Software for Accountants?
Your practice management software is even more important than your CRM. This system is how you know what has been done and what is still left to do. This software is simultaneously the source of record and the source of action for your firm.
Most firms eventually figure out that they need a practice management software because it’s impossible to run a modern firm without one. If you don’t have one, you’re going to be constantly asking:
- Who did what?
- How did they do it? Did they remember to do this one thing that’s special for this one client (for every client)?
- Did we make the deadline on this project?
- Are we on track to get everything done this week we need to?
- What’s overdue?
If something is not updated in the practice management software, then it didn’t take place. You, as the firm owner, need to instill this discipline from the very beginning. Nothing is completely done until it is updated in your system.
When you’re small, this is not a big problem. But, as you add more clients and employees, your Practice Management software becomes the heart of your firm because it tracks the speed and pace your firm works.
Who Is This Quick Guide For?
This guide is for small to medium-size accounting firms conducting research about accounting practice management software before making a purchasing decision. Generally speaking, if your firm has fewer than 20 people, then this guide is for you.
Let me paint a picture of who you are. You probably fit into one of these two categories:
- An accounting firm just coming to terms with the importance of practice management. You’re a relatively small firm, probably less than six employees. You’re the firm owner or a partner. You started out tracking your work in spreadsheets until you realized, “Spreadsheets aren’t made for this.”
- An accounting firm who completely understands the importance of practice management, but you’re looking for alternative solutions to what you have in place right now. Your firm employs less than twenty people and has less than six thousand clients (individual and business combined). You’ve got a bunch of disparate tools that help make your employees more efficient but it is hard to keep track of them all. Your tool now might be less than intuitive or lack features you need.
Features to Consider
Each accounting management solution on the market claiming to be a practice management software has a different set of features that will meet your unique needs. They can all manage your practice, but some will fulfill some functions, and others will not. What is important is figuring out your firm’s “Must Have Features” versus its “Nice To Have Features.”
Simply put: What are the things your firm can’t live without?
We’re going to give you an overview of the leaders in the market to help you make an informed choice.
- Project Planning and Task Management. How well does this software help you to plan projects and manage your tasks? This is the most important factor because, if the software doesn’t do this well, it should be excluded from your list. Managing your practice is simply managing all of your ongoing projects.
- Multi-User Interface. This factor looks at how well teams can collaborate and work on projects in the software. No firm is an island, and communication is hard. A practice management software should make communication easy, not hard.
- Simplicity. Your firm is complex enough. Your chosen solution should be simple and intuitive to use. If there are 14 different menus with 20 different buttons, then your staff might waste time and productivity just trying to get the software to work.
- Ideal Size of Firm. Some tools are enterprise solutions. Why worry about solutions that were built for much larger firms? You wouldn’t buy a pair of pants that was 10 sizes too big! You shouldn’t choose software like that either.
- Client Communication. The Client Chase struggle is real. Your clients are paying you for a service and will often not give you the information you need to do the service they are paying you to do. You need a way to communicate with your clients directly on the work they are paying you to do.
- Integrations. The accounting world is filled with tools! You need a practice management software that is going to help integrate your tools into one place.
- Customer Information Management. You need one true source of customer information. Where do you go when you need to call or email someone? Your solution should have a place for you to keep all of this client data.
- Document Management. You can’t run a practice without storing documents. Every business needs a filing cabinet. But you want it to be a virtual filing cabinet. Your accounting practice management software should include the ability to upload documents.
- Time Tracking. The billable hour rules accounting. We are all moving toward value priced billing, but until then, your chosen solution should store time data.
- Pricing. No one wants to overpay for a software solution. You’ll want something that meets your needs, providing the solution you were looking for, without breaking the bank. You’ll also want something that will scale with you.
Accounting Practice Management Software
Karbon is a work management tool for multiple industries that utilize Kanban manufacturing techniques to visualize the flow of work. Karbon started out specializing in the accounting sphere but has since expanded to new industries like HR or Insurance. Similar to Jetpack Workflow, Karbon is a new technology company and not a legacy tool.
Office Tools has been around since 1983 and has grown to become a large player in the space. It’s considered a legacy tool and has many offerings in terms of practice management features.
This solution is only available with QBO Accountant and is QBO’s 3rd attempt to create a Practice Management Software solution. QBO is the 800lb gorilla in the accounting industry. Chances are you use QBO and your clients use QBO. This is the 3rd or 4th iteration of a task management tool Intuit has brought to market.
This workflow tool comes as part of your Office 365 solution and is not tailored to the Accounting Market. ToDo’s was actually Wunderlist before it was purchased by Microsoft. Like with most broad project management or task software, you can make it work but it won’t fit like a glove.
Excel is the standard spreadsheet software. It is made for getting work done, not tracking work. True, you can do anything in Excel! But should you? Every firm in the world starts with Excel to manage their practice and eventually, they all grow out of it.
But is accounting practice management software right for you? This is something you definitely want to ask yourself and consider when finding a tool to support your needs.
These platforms above will have many solid product features, but can also be too robust for your current needs. And sometimes you’ll find practice management tools only offer basic functionality of each product feature to just “check a box.”
While we at Jetpack Workflow are not accounting practice management, we do offer simple tools and features that get your firm standardized, automated, and better tracking client work and team progress.
- Standardize all work and customize jobs to clients
- Track all work
- Automate the creation and assignment of work
- Email clients from jobs
- Store documents on jobs
Jetpack Workflow offers a great mix of features combined with a fair price to give your firm maximum value for your investment. Each tool delivers a different experience, and choosing the right one for your firm depends on your priority in terms of features and price.
We are the market leader in workflow software for small to medium accounting firm. We do work with larger firms as well, but our core focus is small-to-medium businesses.
Try our workflow management software for free today, for 14 days! No credit card required to start.