The modern accounting ecosystem is a huge, hard-to-navigate pool of apps, add-ons and systems. Solutions exist for almost anything, and most practices are now using anywhere from 5 to 40 apps to manage internal processes and collaborate with their clients. So how do you know what technology is right for your firm?
In this series, guest accountants share their own stack—the apps their practice are using to get more done in less time. First up, the Founder and Head Ninja for Growthwise, Steph Hinds.
I often get asked why we use certain systems, how we use them, why we chose this one over something else, and what problems this system solves. Here is a summary of each application we use, and an outline on what we use it for.
Internal applications (our main ones)
This is our internal communication tool and our learning platform. Anything Growthwise-related is posted here as well as articles we think are interesting, technical question and answers, information about new clients, and interesting things existing clients are doing.
This is what we use for our Daily Standups. We have customized questions that the team answer at the end of the day. These are focused towards the three targets we set for Growthwise quarterly. For example, one of the questions we asked this is quarter is “what was your biggest frustration today?”. We also use this tool to set goals for the business that everyone can see, and individual goals that are reviewed each quarter.
Our practice management solution, Karbon handles email (from clients only, we don’t email internally), workflow, to-do tasks, contacts & all our work processes. It’s the one system everyone at Growthwise opens every morning and is our go-to for all information about our clients and work that needs to be done. It’s also great for workflow and transparency, as communication between all clients is visible for all users, meaning no searching for that email sent to someone else.
We use this to prepare all of our internal working papers for compliance, for all types of businesses as well as our SMSF.
We prepare and lodge all of our income tax returns via Tax (except for SMSF’s) as well as all IAS/BAS.
This is what we use to prepare all of our financial statements and income tax returns for SMSFs.
We use Spotlight to tell our clients the story of how their business is going and where they are headed. We also use forecasting to show when clients are likely to run out cash. Everything is automated as all data is imported straight from Xero.
This is what we use to handle all our corporate compliance needs, annual company statement reviews, changes to companies, and setup of companies, trusts and SMSFs.
Applications we use with our clients
We prepare all our proposals for new clients as well as our re-engagements here. Clients accept their proposal and invoices are automatically deployed. This is also the tool we use to track our performance for Growthwise, ie actual to budget etc.
Every document we prepare for our clients lives in a Box folder. Clients have full access to their financials, management reports and tax returns as soon as we prepare them, and can log in at any time to see them.
For the last five years, we have used Docusign. Every document a client needs to sign is sent using Docusign straight out of Box, meaning the signed copy is automatically filed for us in the correct spot.
All of our clients use Xero as their bookkeeping/accounting system. Loads of them use a heap of add-ons (as well as other systems) as well, but all use Xero as the back-end. We then use Xero to prepare our Financial Statements for clients. We also use Xero to run our internal accounting.
Internal applications (the rest)
For those times when we need to use a spreadsheet, we use the Google Apps suite. We also use Google Calendar to schedule appointments and Google Docs for content planning and other word processing.
We use Zoom for meetings that can’t happen in the office. We were previously using GoTo Meeting but Zoom for us is much easier to use, and integrates nicely with Slack.
We love social media at Growthwise. We use Hootsuite to manage it all.
This is what we use to send out all our Newsletters. We send these to anyone on our mailing list and also have our clients tagged so we can send specific newsletters to them.
Using social media extensively means we often need to prepare visual aids. Canva lets us prepare these with the click of a few buttons.
There are a lot of things that happen in an accounting business. We use Karbon for our internal checklists—things that need to be done—but we often need a how-to. This is what we use Clarify for—to snapshot the how-to, allowing us to easily annotate along the way.
For eight weeks of the year, we prepare personal income tax returns at very specific times (eight hours for the week). We use Timely to allow people to book their own appointments easily.
We use Typeform to survey our clients, as well as prepare checklists. As an example, we have a questionnaire for our new hires to answer questions around our culture—who we are and what we stand for. We also use it provide a checklist for clients who want us to setup Xero Cashbook so they can track all of their personal income and expenses. We also use this to collect all the information we need to prepare personal income tax returns.
We use this so our clients can book their own appointments. It’s awesome as we can set parameters for when we want appointments, and clients can easily pick a time that suits them.
When you have more than a few people in your team it’s hard to ensure everyone’s email signatures are the same, let alone ensure everyone has the same holiday message! Black Pearl solves these issues for us, and also tracks the call to actions that we put on our emails.
This is the best learning platform I’ve found. We use this for our L Platers and P Platers course, to ensure we are delivering high-quality, engaging content. It’s also super easy for us to see where everyone is up to and answer questions in discussion forums.
We love to hold events at Growthwise, especially our BabyXerocon. We use Eventbrite to create the event, for registrations, and to track who turns up.
For all our hiring needs. This includes our job portal, advertisements and the entire process of finding someone to hire.
We love Zapier. It stitches together the little things that you wouldn’t get around doing if they weren’t automatic. To give an example, all of our social profiles automatically post to a #social channel in Slack, so that no one misses anything and the whole team can interact with it.
Handles all of our email passwords.
Add-ons we use with our clients
This is a main app for our clients. Our mantra is to #banadmin, and not having to enter any receipts or invoices into Xero or file an invoice ever, means we love Shoeboxed. A ton of our clients use it and we also use it for any bookkeeping we do internally.
Our clients love tracking all of their share investments via Sharesight and we love the fact that it integrates perfectly with Xero.
Add-ons we implement and support for our clients
- Debtor Daddy
- Asset Guru
Other apps we use with our clients to help them manage
Karbon is a new approach to practice management. You can try Karbon with your team, free for 14 days.
If you'd like to share the apps your use in your practice, please get in touch.
Head Ninja, Growthwisegrowthwise.com.au
Steph is the founder of Growthwise, a Newcastle-based accounting firm. She is on a mission to help accountants collaborate, challenge and learn from each other to shape the future of the accounting industry. She enables entrepreneurs to take control of their business and personal growth to lead the life they want and deserve, while building a high performing internal team at Growthwise, testing, measuring and refining what that looks like for accountants.