5 Technologies to Adopt in Extension Season

Practice Management, Workflow tools Technology

Extension season is the ideal time of year to test new technologies, and decide if they warrant incorporating into your workflow before the next busy season rolls around. Based on customer feedback telling us these solutions save time and make a difference with clients, here are five technologies for your consideration.

Intuit® Link is an integrated client portal and digital organizer that makes it easy to collect source documents and information from clients. The easy-to-read dashboards make it clear which client document requests are still in progress, and which returns are ready to prepare. Automatic reminders handle the administrative tasks so you can spend time on more valuable work. Clients appreciate the ability to complete your requests from a mobile phone or a browser. And unlike E-organizer, Link can be used on a Mac. Link includes a threaded conversation with your client to simplify and save client communications. Customers who use Link tell us it saves 20 percent or more of the time they spent collecting client information. Like all client portals, it is a multi-year process for clients to adopt a new process, and it helps to tell clients before season that you are changing the process. Most customers expect 20 to 30 percent of their clients to use Link in the first year. Link is included with Intuit ProConnect™ Tax Online, Lacerte® and ProSeries®.

At the end of the tax preparation process, eSignature plus Payments can automate the steps of delivering the tax return, collecting 8879 signatures, collecting your fees and notifying you the return is ready to e-file. Customers tell us that printing and mailing client copies costs $4 to $10, and on average, takes five days to collect the 8879 signature – and longer to collect payment. On average, clients complete the eSignature process and pay your invoice in just 12 hours. The time savings and reduction in touch points can streamline your tax workflow and deliver a much better client experience for clients who don’t want to come by your office to complete the engagement.

QuickBooks® Online (QBO) is quickly changing the service relationship between business clients and ProAdvisors®. More than 1.5 million small businesses now use QBO to run their business, and more choose online than QuickBooks Desktop every day. Instead of delivering traditional write up and historical financials, ProAdvisors collaborating with clients on QBO are automating more of the data entry and shifting to higher-value business advisory services to make a greater difference for clients. The best way to become confident using QuickBooks Online, and experience this service paradigm shift, is to move your firm books from Desktop to QBO. QBO is free for ProAdvisors with QBO clients, and conversion usually takes a few minutes. One ProAdvisor who recently switched his firm books to QBO quickly discovered opportunities to better collaborate with his service-based clients and moved 15 of them to QBO.

For ProConnect firms who need practice management with time and billing software, Office Tools Workspace™ is the preferred solution. Workspace provides one place to update client contact information, and share the updates with other programs, such as Lacerte and Microsoft Outlook. Workspace has the tools to track engagements, due dates and staff. Workspace organizes client documents and communications so everyone in the office has visibility to the workflow. And, Workspace captures staff time to minimize leakage and optimize billings.

Finally, make sure you are taking advantage of an email solution with unified calendaring that is available on smart phones to maximize staff productivity. Today, 54 percent of emails are opened on a mobile phone. Microsoft Office 365 and Google Gmail are the most commonly used unified solutions. If your office is still using an antiquated email service, it is probably time to upgrade to an integrated service that shares contacts and calendars across staff.

These are bite-sized changes that can significantly improve your firm’s productivity, especially when busy season arrives.