Standardizing your processes doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Here are 5 tips.

No one would blame you for avoiding standardizing your accounting firm’s processes.

It’s an involved process that takes time, planning and patience. And those are hard to come by when you’re running a busy accounting firm; juggling clients, staff and workflows.

But standardizing your processes doesn’t have to be overwhelming. You don’t have to drop everything to tackle it, and you don’t need to revise every single process at once.

A great place to start is with just one process. It might be your most used process, the one that frustrates you the most, or even your most simple. You can perform a quick audit on your internal workflows with the Internal Workflows Audit and Discovery template from the Karbon Template Library to help you choose.

Here are some tips to consider when standardizing your first process:

1. Don’t start from scratch

You’re not the only firm managing tax, bookkeeping or financial advisory. So chances are that someone has already standardized your chosen process, and made it available on Karbon’s Template Library

There are hundreds of pre-existing workflow and process templates for you to use as-they-are, or as a starting point for you to customize to suit your firm’s needs. 

If you already use Karbon, you can upload them directly to your account. If you aren’t using Karbon yet (or use a different tool altogether), you can download them as .xls files.

2. Get out your pen and sticky notes

Visualizing your workflow will make it easier to understand, helping you identify areas for improvement.

Physically draw it out using a whiteboard, paper or sticky notes. Even when you don’t have all the answers, getting it down on paper will help you get a visual overview of your process.

If you’re against using paper altogether, you can use online mind map tools like Miro or Lucidspark.

3. Use technology (but only when it makes sense)

When standardizing your first process, don’t get carried away with using a new (or existing) tool. If you try to force technology into your process, it can overcomplicate things quickly.

Only use technology where it makes sense and where it will genuinely improve process efficiency. 

And if you do need to introduce new technology, make sure you train your staff properly. If you don’t, it will be a complete waste of time and resources, and it'll fail to achieve what it’s trying to.

Remember, don’t simply turn to technology to solve your problems—first optimize your process, and then use technology to bolster it.

Use technology to enhance processes and not to replace processes.
Adrian Simmons, Elements CPA, Chief Creative Designer

4. Don’t forget the client experience

The main pain points you’re trying to solve involve the way your team operates, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider how that impacts your client experience. Make sure your refined and standardized process makes sense for your clients too.

5. Just make a start

This is the most important thing you can do.

You won't have all the answers immediately, but you need to get started to get somewhere. So begin with what you know and don’t get hung up on getting 100% of the details perfect—you can fill in the gaps as you go.

Standardizing your processes doesn’t have to be overwhelming

Optimizing how your firm operates does involve work—there’s no getting around that. But it shouldn’t overtake everything else you do. Implementing these tips and tricks will help keep you focused and on-track.

For a step-by-step blueprint to guide you through the process in a way that is simple, digestible and human, download the Process Playbook.

It will help you identify the first process to standardize, and introduce 8 best practice steps to transform it into a well-oiled, well-communicated and efficient procedure.

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