The accounting profession has evolved dramatically over the past few years. This evolution has been accelerated by the amazing technology that’s available to us and our clients. For our practice, this means we need to take a long, hard look at our practice management systems and tools. Because we use these same systems and tools daily, we sometimes become immune to thinking through how to improve them. As a result, many of us find that we’ve been using deplorably outdated methods for years. When our team put some serious thought into how we need to change in order to move forward, we decided two things mattered: Optimizing accessibility to our tools, and curating an ergonomic work environment in which to use them.
Optimizing Accessibility to Tools
Accessibility is of prime importance. Communications with clients are now around-the-clock due to technologies like FaceTime, Instagram, Google Hangouts, email, texting and more. Our hardworking clients expect to be able to text or send a direct message when they need us. They expect alacrity in a profession that, due to its dealings with notoriously behind-the-times government entities, hasn’t always been able to oblige.
Our answer? The cloud. We needed tools that we can access from any of our devices at any time. For example, Intuit® Link allows us to request documents and information from our clients, and they can furnish that information from their mobile devices with the press of a button. We store files in a company-wide Google Drive with folders for each client, and we communicate using Slack and Google Hangouts. All of our calendars and apps are connected to Trello, where projects and appointments are converted to cards on which we track documents and communications. We use software like Intuit Link, ProConnect™ Tax Online, QuickBooks® Online Accountant and Intuit Online Payroll – just a few items in our large software stack. And we rely on our Holy Grail calendar app to get us through the week with reminders. Our entire practice can be run without an office, from our cell phones if need be, which affords us enough freedom to branch out into the development of our own tools and a new type of accounting office.
Once you have your data in the cloud, you can find or develop your own automations using platforms like IBM (for artificial intelligence) or another robotic process automation tool to gather data from your software stack and report back to you, instead of the other way around. Make your business work for you.
Curating an Ergonomic Work Environment
Throughout this journey, we’ve noticed a pressing need for a different type of work environment. Our team needs spaces designed for using virtual reality and voice commands, and developing our own tools and softwares. We need an open environment for maximum communication and efficiency. This means fewer walls and sharp edges, furniture and mats designed for comfort and moving around, and better acoustics. We need our space to be modular yet cohesive.
While we don’t believe we’ll ever reach practice management perfection, we’re getting close, and pushing ourselves to innovate every step of the way.
Editor’s note: Leave a note below to let us know which important workflow tools and philosophies you rely on in your practice.