How to overcome 2 common workflow management challenges at your accounting firm

In an ideal world, your accounting practice runs smoothly, efficiently and without a hitch. Your clients are always happy, they deliver information on time, and your employees are satisfied and engaged.

But the real world is a little less simple than that.

In reality, your team is busy, your clients are slow to provide you with the information you need, and your firm’s day-to-day operations experience bumps in the road.

The good news is that there are tools and tactics you can implement to manage these realities.

One element that underscores each of these areas are your workflows. On one hand, workflows that are convoluted, ill-communicated and manual result in inefficient processes. This creates delays for clients, and frustrated staff who spend too much time performing tasks that don’t add value. But on the other hand, intelligent workflows result in time savings that enable your staff to deliver meaningful work, and provide a smooth and consistent client experience.

The difference between these two situations is workflow management. When you can solidly manage your workflows, you’ll begin to transform your accounting firm from the first scenario, to the second.

Here are two main challenges of workflow management, including potential solutions for you to consider.

Common workflow challenges for accounting firms

Challenge #1: Too many manual processes

The truth is, manual processes bog down your staff, limit their productivity, stifle their creativity, and reduce morale. 

On top of that, having too many manual processes affects your firm’s top line.

If your team is spending time performing non billable tasks, like forwarding emails and updating project statuses, that is time directly taken away from billable work.
Although it’s a grim outlook, there is good news: this is all avoidable.

Potential solution: embrace automation

Automating your workflows as much as possible means solving complicated and manual tasks, freeing up time for your team to deliver true value and high quality service to your clients.

Automation tools like Zapier are designed to give you your time back by taking care of these low value actions.

When you have two separate tools that don’t natively integrate with each other but do have Zapier integrations, you can create ‘Zaps’ between them, effectively creating an integration.

For example, let’s say your proposals and engagements app doesn’t have a native integration with your CRM. Ideally, an integration would automatically create a new client in your CRM as soon as they digitally sign your engagement letter. Without this integration, you’d need to manually create your new client in your CRM. But with Zapier, you can automate this process, without the native integration.

Recommended reading: How to know if Zapier will be useful for your accounting firm in 5 steps 

Ultimately, Zapier acts as the conduit between multiple apps, and has the potential to transform how your firm directs resources.

Challenge #2: Poor workflow visibility

Without being able to actually visualize your team’s workflows, it’s nearly impossible to manage them, measure them, and anticipate potential problems and/ or bottlenecks.

A firm that runs smoothly needs a single source of truth—a place where you can oversee the production line, internal and external communication, and client information.

Potential solution: consolidate your workflow management

By bringing all aspects of your fragmented workflow management into one, single tool like Karbon, you can oversee each aspect of your firm’s operations.

This tool will become your single source of truth. You’ll gain visibility over:

  • Each piece of work, including its status and assignee

  • Client information, including email

  • Communication history for each client and piece of work

  • Staff capacity

Consolidating your workflow management into a tool like Karbon also means that you’ve got an accurate view of performance analytics, helping you to benchmark and then improve individual and firm-wide KPIs.

Take charge of your workflow management

Protect your firm against the pitfalls of manual, convoluted and fragmented workflows. Equip your team with the right tech stack, so you can watch their productivity skyrocket, while keeping an eye on workflow trends. From then, that aforementioned ideal world becomes more like a reality.

Recommended reading: ​​How to choose the best accounting workflow software

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