How to work smarter not harder during tax season

When you work in an accounting firm, there may not be such a thing as a “quiet period”. But there definitely is such a thing as a “busy period”.

Tax season is the time of year when most accountants tend to say goodbye to their social life or spending any extended time with their family. It means late nights in front of the computer, work on the weekend, high stress, hard deadlines, and an ongoing struggle just to stay on top of things.

But it doesn’t need to be this way. There are some proven steps you can take to navigate the tax season—or any busy period—with ease. The key is to start preparing well in advance.

Here are some tips to help you work smarter, not harder.

Optimize and condense your tech stack

Do you ever feel like you are creating more work just by doing work? A huge culprit of this is a messy tech stack.

Maybe you have double ups—two tools doing the same thing—or maybe you simply don’t need a particular piece of technology. Whatever the reason, it’s time to clear out your tech stack.

For some accounting firms, your revamped (or whole new) tech stack may have been a result of shifting to remote work due to COVID-19.

If this is the case, there’s a high chance you selected this tech stack under pressure, which means it might have solved the problems you were having at the time, but no longer serves this purpose now. 

Reviewing your tech stack will assess each tool’s long-term viability and suitability, and at the same time, address any gaps or double-ups.

At the end of the process, you’ll have a simplified collection of tools, which means no double entries or unnecessary tasks. 

Automate wherever possible

For some, a quarter of the workweek is dedicated to low-value manual and repetitive tasks.

Here lies a simple way you can transform your accounting firm’s ability to work smarter: automation.

Automating these repetitive processes will unlock opportunities for your team to streamline their processes, and focus more on value-driven output, like upselling to your clients or working on internal projects.

Automation ideas for accounting firms:

  • Automate non-value adding processes such as data entry of suppliers’ invoices, debtor follow-up and raising invoices

  • Automatically assign tasks to clients, with auto-reminders if they forget

  • Automate aspects of your onboarding process such as preparing proposals, generating engagement letters and creating work

  • Automatically collect data from client bank feeds

  • Gain visibility throughout your team to avoid double-handling email and ensure everyone knows who is working on what

  • Standardize your firm’s processes

  • Use a tool such as Zapier to share data between the apps you already use

Not only does automation free up time and streamline processes, it reduces human error. And as a result, your team won’t need to divert their time from clients to fix data errors.

Tip: If your team of 25 employees each spend, on average, 4 hours per week chasing clients for information, you’re potentially losing over $120,000 of value. With Karbon’s Client Tasks, you can automate the client chase, adding that value right back to your firm. Calculate your firm’s savings with Karbon’s Client Tasks.

Use workflow management software to gain visibility across your firm

A crucial way to manage your accounting firm’s resources is to assess upcoming work. But in order to confidently forecast, you need to know the status of current jobs and your team’s capacity.

Without a workflow management platform like Karbon, this is nearly impossible to accurately visualize. You’ll struggle to discover work bottlenecks in time, making it difficult to juggle client commitments.

So, when you’re revamping or creating your tech stack, consider how your current tools provide this visibility and standardization?

Are there gaps? If so, you need a workflow management solution.

Standardize your processes

Standardization is all about creating structure for your team so they can execute high-quality work efficiently. On top of that, you’re providing a scalable infrastructure to enable your firm’s growth.

Think about the time spent onboarding a new staff member. From collecting banking details, to communicating your firm’s mission and values, there’s a high degree of information sharing.

But by standardizing this process, you’ll be able to streamline it while ensuring each new hire has the same experience.

When that new hire is ready to start performing, think about the time you’ll save if you have documented and standardized processes for tasks.

In order for your firm to work smarter and not harder, you need to take the time to think about your processes and ask the following questions:

  • Does any information exist only in specific people’s minds?

  • If they were to leave today, would you be able to perform each task?

  • Do we have step-by-step instructions for using our tools and completing specific tasks?

Again, when considering your tech stack, make sure it provides the ability to standardize your workflows.

Invest the time today for tomorrow

Taking the time to investigate your workflows, tech stack, and the exact things you need in order to optimize how your firm operates is important to your firm’s future.

Doing this will help you to implement the right tools and procedures that will enable your accounting firm to streamline processes, increase output and, ultimately, work smarter not harder.