How leading accounting firms improve their efficiency with templated procedures

Have you wondered what sets leading accounting firms apart from others? While there isn’t a magic bullet or just one trait that makes them successful, leading firms know that having their common processes and workflows standardized is essential.

This starts with having documented and templated procedures in place to help day-to-day operations run efficiently.

Whether your accounting practice has been in business for years or is just starting out, maximizing your firm’s efficiency is critical to growth, plus it allows your team to focus more time on adding value to your clients.

Here’s why it’s important to use templates for your processes and how they help keep leading accounting firms agile and efficient.

Why having templated procedures is essential

If you still operate on a very manual basis to create monthly work and tasks, it’s probably time to conduct an honest assessment of how your firm operates so you can understand if the way you currently do things actually hinders your team’s productivity.

If your internal operations aren’t running smoothly or aren’t effective, how can your staff be set up for success?

Work templates are crucial to our firm because they streamline our systems and processes.

Vanessa Scott, Dental Accounting Professionals

Three reasons why templated procedures are effective for your accounting firm

1. Save time

By standardizing and investing the time needed upfront to document your processes, you’ll mitigate confusion over which team member is responsible for each task, reduce errors and improve role clarity in the long run. Ultimately, you’ll save time in the long-run.

Once established, you can incorporate your staff’s feedback and ideas to iterate, make updates and include improvements or changes as needed.  

2. Increase staff productivity

As team members become familiar with and start using templated procedures, their time will free-up, allowing them to invest in higher value-based work for your clients.

By encouraging use of work templates, you are empowering your team members to work more productively. Efficiency and productivity gains will give them time back, so they can enhance their soft skills, improving their communication and ability to build trust with both colleagues and clients.

Plus, having a templated process for onboarding new hires allows for faster ramp-up time and sets a positive introduction to your culture.

Your newest employees don’t want to waste time learning the ropes—they want to master their tasks quickly so they can add value and contribute to your firm’s bottom line.

3. Improve client relationships

As a service-based industry, having efficient processes and procedures in place is critical in your ability to provide the highest level of service for your clients. 

Whether your firm provides a broad array of services or focuses on a specific niche or industry, having the time and availability to support your clients and their business is critical to your success. 

How to ensure templated procedures increase efficiency

Every accounting firm faces different and often unique challenges. The best place to start is to look closely at common workflows within your firm where templated procedures can add efficiency. 

Ask yourself these key questions:

  1. Do we have standardization in place for our processes? Are these documented?

  2. Do we use templates for common tasks and workflows?

  3. Are these templates being shared and used consistently across staff and clients?

If you answered no to any or all of these questions, don’t panic. You don’t have to start from scratch. Karbon’s Template Library has hundreds of free-to-download templates, designed specifically for accounting firm processes and are completely customizable for your organization.

When implementing templated procedures, remember the following:

Set your standards and document them

When you standardize your processes, it’s important that you document them so these repeatable actions are shared with your team in one, centralized location. This helps your team deliver work consistently, reduces errors, and enables better communication and collaboration.

If this feels overwhelming, you may find it easier to start by assessing where you have the biggest gaps in efficiency. Keep it simple and focus on just one procedure or workflow. 

If you’re still on the fence, learn more about the importance of documenting your firm's critical processes.

Work templates make it super easy to set up and deploy a work item across lots of clients.

Joshua Lance, Lance CPA Group

Leverage existing templates and customize them to suit your firm

A great place to start for inspiration (and to save time) is by looking at some already-existing standard templates. There are hundreds of templates available that can either be used out-of-the-box or modified for your specific needs. They can also serve as a guide to creating your own.  

Take a look at these best-practice workflow templates in the Karbon Template Library for an overview of templates available to try, including advisory, bookkeeping, and client management templates (plus many more). 

If you’re unsure about where to start, consider this Essential Global Accounting Workflows template collection—it contains templates for common and more basic accounting functions, like client onboarding and weekly reconciliations.

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.

Jeff Jobson, Catalyst

Empower staff to use templated procedures

Improved collaboration is more critical than ever with team members working remotely. Sharing templated procedures helps eliminate any wasted time caused by location or timezone issues. 

By having all tasks, steps and owners in one place, team members are clear on who’s handling what at every stage. This creates efficiency for task-based work, improves communication and ultimately job satisfaction.

And, by retaining top talent, you save your firm from the cost of losing valuable staff members. This is especially critical for a service-based industry like accounting, when onboarding new staff can eat away into valuable client time.

Build and expand client relationships

The initial steps to onboard a new client have a direct impact on their first impression of your firm. And the devil is in the details. 

Having a consistent process with all the important tasks and steps needed to onboard your client is key to creating a positive introduction to your firm. 

Here is an example template for onboarding a new client.

Your goal is to onboard a new client quickly with the confidence that you haven’t missed a critical step in the initial process. Doing so enables you to spend more time understanding their biggest pain points and priorities so you can make an immediate impact on their business growth and success.

A template for your onboarding processes is crucial to being able to do that.

Need help getting started?

To keep an edge over the competition, leading accounting firms understand that having an ongoing commitment to time management enables team members to focus on adding value and building long-term client relationships.

If you think your firm may benefit from improvements in productivity and efficiency, it might be time to take the first step.

You’ll find the templates available in the Karbon Template Library are a great way to help get you started. Choose a pre-created template and customize it to suit your firm—taking this first step is important in kick-starting your firm’s efficiency.