How Catalyst is being a trusted advisor to their clients

For more than 40 years, Catalyst has provided accounting, tax, and business advisory to businesses across Southern Alberta, Canada. They strive to be the trusted advisor to their wide variety of clients and do everything they can to help their businesses succeed.

  • Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

  • Services: Accounting, tax, business advisory

  • Years of operation: 40+ years

  • Number of employees: 70

  • Karbon customer since: 2017

“We really dig in and understand our clients’ businesses as much as we can,” says Jeff Jobson, Senior Manager in Catalyst’s Accounting and Assurance Group. “We try and facilitate their thinking towards where they see themselves in the future and help them achieve their goals. Whether that's within the business or beyond.”

Catalyst is also a member of Allinial Global, an association of firms providing global knowledge sharing. This partnership enhances their client services by giving them the knowledge and expertise of an international firm, while allowing them to maintain the personal approach of a local, independent firm.

Staying ahead of the curve

In order to maintain its high level of client service, the Catalyst team has always made an effort to stay ahead of the curve in terms of technology. They have encouraged many of their clients to move to cloud-based accounting software such as QuickBooks Online.

This mindset also extends to the technology they use internally, where they use modern systems and finetune their processes so that they improve efficiencies, free time up for staff so that they can perform higher-value work, and ultimately provide a better service to their clients.

“Almost everything that we do has a level of innovation, and we always try to stay on top of the latest technology,” says Jeff.

Two years ago, they were using two different systems for workflow management and scheduling, which was causing big challenges.

We had two different pieces of software that did integrate, but not very well. Our primary system was not user-friendly at all, and the whole set-up was very challenging.
Jeff Jobson, Catalyst

Replacing two systems with one

Managing Partner, Terri Holowath, came across Karbon at an Allinial Global conference in early 2017. She realized that Karbon could be a solution to their challenges and ultimately replace both of the two outdated systems they were currently using.

But they had run into barriers implementing new systems in the past, such as getting buy-in across the team. To help reduce any chance of this happening, the onboarding team at Karbon worked closely with Terri and her staff to develop a plan that included splitting the implementation of Karbon into teams, tailored training, weekly check-ins, and identifying an internal committee of Karbon champions.

More information at their fingertips

Fast-forward to today, and Karbon has become a critical component of the tech stack used each day by the team at Catalyst. The system is relied on for internal collaboration, workflow, client management, documenting their processes and much more.

But when asked to pick one aspect that has had the biggest benefit, Jeff identifies Karbon’s integration with email.

“The way Karbon manages email has been huge,” he says. “We are all spending less time looking at and handling email, which has made us more efficient individually.”

Karbon makes critical email communication visible across a team and extends this into the wider workflow, which has also had a big effect.

We now have much more information at our fingertips, such as communication between other staff members and clients. We had never previously documented that, and now that we do, we are getting through jobs more efficiently and providing a much better service to our clients.
Jeff Jobson, Catalyst

“Karbon helps us keep on top of communication and files coming in and as they move through the different areas of the office," says Jeff. "For example, moving from a staff accountant to a manager, then to a partner, and eventually sent back out to the clients. Karbon has streamlined that entire process from start to finish.”

Standardizing, documenting and refining their processes

At the same time as internal communication and collaboration improved at Catalyst, so too did their process standardization and quality. Much of this has been due to the fact that they have documented their most common processes as templates in Karbon, to be used and shared amongst all business units.

“Karbon makes it really easy to create and improve templates for all our common processes, which has really improved our efficiency,” says Jeff. “We now have most of our core processes documented for all types of projects.”

The firm’s quest to constantly be more efficient and enhance the service that they provide to their clients means that they are always tweaking and improving their processes.

“The team is constantly looking for different ways to use our current templates better, and create some new templates that will help us be more efficient internally. This allows us more time to work with our clients and be that trusted advisor.”

A higher level of client service

From a manager’s perspective, Karbon makes it easy for Jeff to know where work in progress is up to, and how his team is performing.

“Everything flows really nicely without us needing to manually update statuses or tell others that something is ready for them,” he says.

“Karbon makes it much easier to manage my team. At any time I can see where they’re up to with tasks and how far along they are with a client job. I know when it’s ready for me to review and can see what in particular needs my attention.”

And this improvement extends beyond Jeff’s own team. With multiple business units, Jeff says that they have made big strides in the way they work together across the entire organization. 

“We’re not chasing files or jobs around the office anymore. We can see who is working on it and what status it is in. If we need to go and talk about it to someone, we know who we need to talk to.”

To be that trusted advisor we need to work well between our different units. Karbon has greatly improved communication and collaboration across the entire business.
Jeff Jobson, Catalyst

“Ultimately, Karbon has freed up time, allows us to be more efficient, and be that trusted advisor to our clients. We can take a step back, look at our clients’ situations from a high level, and have deeper conversations with them.”

Results

  • Two outdated systems replaced with a single modern solution

  • Reduced time spent managing email

  • Improved communication and collaboration across the business

  • Improved efficiency across processes, providing more time to add value to clients


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