How Envolta Cloud Accounting is building their ultimate tech stack
With a head office in Ottawa, but serving clients throughout Canada, Envolta provides a range of services including bookkeeping, payroll, tax and advisory. President and CEO David DiNardo says that this does not fully describe them though.
“We have turned into more than an accounting company. We really deliver a complete back-end solution for each one of our clients,” says David.
The pivotal ingredient that has enabled Envolta to grow rapidly and provide this full service? Technology.
“Envolta stands for leveraging technology. We make use of the best systems and processes to eliminate data entering. This allows us to focus on customer service, the advisory role, and delivering the best experience to our clients,” says David.
In David’s opinion, the accounting industry and the way that many firms operate has not changed significantly over the past decades. So when he established Envolta in 2014, he was determined to do things differently.
This meant designing and implementing a stack of apps that would enable his team to drive their clients’ businesses forward, while growing the Envolta business at the same time.
After first implementing QuickBooks Online as their cloud accounting software, a solution was needed to manage everything from an internally. For this, David had a list of requirements.
“I wanted something that was easy-to-use, cloud-based, and geared specifically towards accountants,” he says. His search didn’t last long.
“The second app we implemented in our business was Karbon. I settled on it right away and it quickly became our internal hub.”
A tech stack designed for efficiency
In the following years, David and the Envolta team built a tech stack incorporating a wide rage of best-of-breed apps. This has allowed them to automate a vast amount of manual work.
To help him identify and choose the systems amongst an ever-evolving ecosystem, David focused on apps that integrated with one another.
“Direct integrations make our job a lot easier,” he says. “When I realized Karbon integrated with Ignition and TSheets, I investigated and very quickly decided to implement these apps.”
Today, Envolta operates on a finely-tuned stack of apps chosen to each solve a specific purpose, including Hubdoc, Plooto, WagePoint, Ignition, TSheets, QuickBooks Online and Karbon.
David has also made use of Karbon’s Zapier connection to synchronize their data across as many systems as possible. One example of this has been Pipedrive, which they use in their sales process.
“We use Zapier to link Pipedrive to Karbon. A new prospect can go online to provide us their important details at the beginning of the process. Their answers flow into Pipedrive for our sales team, and if they become a client, these details are pushed into Karbon.”
“It's a lot smoother now. All the information is exactly where it should be, rather than on one Excel spreadsheet requiring manual entry.”
Automating client onboarding
Envolta’s seamless operation is perhaps best demonstrated by looking at how they onboard a new client today—a process that David says is extremely critical for them.
“The client onboarding process, especially with value pricing and the setting up of new systems, is probably the most important thing,” he says. “The client should know exactly what they're getting from us, how much it's going to cost, and what our deliverables are.”
The first step is the client proposal, which is sent via Ignition, triggering a sequence of automatic steps that can follow.
“We identify the client’s needs, get them into Ignition, and send a proposal laying out the details,” David says.
“Once the proposal is accepted, a QuickBooks Online entry is created, along with a Karbon work item from the appropriate template. This work item is assigned to an onboarding manager and the onboarding process can begin.”
Early in the process, the onboarding manager implements the necessary systems for the client and ensures all accounting for the current month is up-to-date. At this stage, they set up work items and tasks to repeat on automatic schedules in Karbon, assigning them to different individuals on the Envolta team.
On average, it now takes them less than one month to progress from an accepted client proposal to full ongoing work. Not only has efficiency improved, but clients are happier and easier to deal with.
“Today, client retention is pretty much at 99%. This is because they know exactly what they're getting, they know their app stack, and they’re working with us to deliver a better service to themselves.”
Gaining visibility with TSheets
Once the team is performing ongoing client work, reporting on efficiency and analyzing data is made easier through Karbon’s integration with TSheets.
“Our employees go into Karbon and enter their hours per project for a specific client, which gets pushed into TSheets,” says David. “We can then run project reports and analyze the data in great detail.”
“Our account managers and bookkeepers have a certain amount of clients every month. Because they are tracked through TSheets, we know their capacity and how many hours they should be spending on each client.”
Having this accurate data has been an essential element in Envolta’s successful transition from hourly billing to value pricing.
“One of the risks about moving to value pricing is scope creep. To avoid it, you have to train the clients and make sure that they follow the process in the proposal. TSheets gives us the visibility we need to monitor this,” says David.
“Integrating Karbon and TSheets gives us a monthly overview of how our projects are doing and how long each employee is spending on each project. We use this data to identify KPIs and efficiencies, and see if we're pricing projects correctly. It's given us visibility that we never had before.”
Internal and external automation
David will always be on the lookout for the next app to save even more time and deliver a better client service. This is the mindset that is leading to Envolta being named on lists such as Ottawa's fastest-growing companies.
“You can't be scared of the technology. Apps like Karbon and TSheets have been amazing for us. They’re enabling me to fulfill my perfect app stack.”
“We need to focus on internal and external processes," says David. "Karbon has enabled us to build our processes out internally, and other apps like Hubdoc, Plooto and WagePoint allow us to automate the client's accounting.”
Integrating as many systems as possible isn’t just saving time on data-entry, it also ensures the data is accurate and up-to-date.
“Before integrating all these tools, we’d always be be two or three months behind, looking at past information and playing catch up. But today, our data is clean and we can usually file corporate tax within the month of the year-end. We have the time to have more discussions that are advisory in nature.”
And just like the focus on processes, the benefits are being felt internally and externally too.
“Our staff enjoy knowing their clients and exactly what they have to do for each of them,” says David. “And our clients love it because they finally get to see their numbers in real-time and make financial business decisions more confidently.”
David expects his tech stack to evolve, but he also knows that the apps themselves will keep improving too. At the center of this is Karbon.
“Karbon is really accountant-focused and always looking at the pain points for accounting firms. They are constantly making product updates and solving real problems that we have,” he says.
“Every accounting firm should be using Karbon. It's the cornerstone of our business.”
99% client retention rate
Onboarding new clients in less than 1 month
Ottawa’s fastest-growing company list 2018 & 2019
Canada's top 500 growth companies in 2019
Services: Tax, Bookkeeping, Accounting, Payroll, Technology, Advisory
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Firm Size: 21-50 Employees
- 99% client retention rate
- Onboarding new clients in less than 1 month
- Ottawa’s fastest-growing company list 2018 & 2019
- Canada's top 500 growth companies in 2019