The October 15th deadlines have passed, and it's time to gear up for tax season. Here are a list of tools you should consider as you delve into year-end planning in your firm.
Paper-based data centers (also known as file rooms) are difficult to navigate and downright dangerous. In the event of fire, flood, or theft, your client records could be toast. Luckily, a host of file sharing solutions have emerged in the past few years, and they are becoming easier and easier to use. You have undoubtedly heard of file sharing services like Dropbox. Although Dropbox is incredibly user-friendly, it's been the target of more than one data breach. Sharefile and Box.net are two alternatives to Dropbox that go above and beyond industry regulations to keep your client data safe. Using a service like Box or Sharefile, you can:
- Securely send and share documents containing sensitive information.
- Collaborate with coworkers and clients on standard tax documents, letters and client documents (no need to email spreadsheets back and forth over and over again).
- Receive notifications when clients open sent files.
Improve Workflow with a Simple and Automated Process Management Tool
Yes, you can use your tax software to track workflow, but these tools are difficult to use for delegating tasks. According to the Journal of Accountancy, workflow management tools can boost a firm's profits by $10,000 or more in a year. Tools like ProcessPlan can ensure that every staffer completes every step of every process every time.
Wouldn't it be great to automate some of these processes?
- Audit workflow
- Tax return preparation
- New hire onboarding
- New client onboarding
- Succession plan
Improve Client Relationships by Using a CRM
According to Accounting Today, "a survey of the Top 100 Firms found that CRM was the most popular technology plan among those that were planning on implementing anything new that year." Benefits of using a CRM include:
- Tracking all interactions with clients.
- Manage your sales pipeline and grow your client base.
- Cross-sell services that your clients might not even know you offer.
CRM solutions vary greatly in terms of price and functionality. Check out the Accounting Today article I referenced to see case studies from 4 firms, each using a different CRM. One solution that was not mentioned is Salesforce.com, which has a developer platform that can be used to integrate with your time and billing software.
Break Your Email Addiction: 2 Alternatives for Internal Communication
Accountants often receive hundreds of emails in a single day. Email can be a huge distraction and time-waster. Using Sharefile or Box will help, but you might also consider moving day-to-day internal communications out of the inbox.
- Internal Instant Messaging. We use an IM client called Brosix. It's secure, it's got tons of cool features, and it's only used by our employees.
- Wiki. If you've ever worked through a problem and thought, "Someone else might need to know how to do this one day," then you need a wiki. A wiki is a website developed collaboratively by a community of users, allowing any of its members to add and edit content. We use our Wiki as a knowledge base and repository for answers on common how-to’s. (Related post: 4 Reasons Why You Should Consider Building a Wiki).
Just for Fun: The Dominos Pizza App
A hungry staff is not a productive staff. For those late nights at the office, you can use the Dominos app to order pizza for your crew with just four or five taps of your finger.