Why Should You Streamline Your Accounting Firm Workflow Process?
Streamlining the accounting workflow process solves some of the most common problems accounting pros face. First and foremost, it saves you time. Although your time may be under the most constraints during tax season, it’s valuable 365 days a year. Protect it and your firm will flourish.
In addition to saving you time, making your workflow processes more efficient benefits your team and your clients. It sets your team up for success with established processes and ensures that your clients receive deliverables in a timely manner. Every aspect of your firm will benefit from streamlining your accounting firm workflow process.
A $15,000 Piece of Advice
How to Streamline Your Accounting Firm Workflow Process
Once upon a time, I was running my own firm. And like many, I realized that I needed to make my firm run more efficiently. So, I invested $15,000 in a program to learn and be able to successfully implement these techniques… It was not a good investment. However, I was able to identify some valuable takeaways and make them work for my firm.
The pitfall most accounting pros experience during this process is going in without a game plan. And when things get too granular, they don’t have a path to follow, and their progress is stopped. Before you begin this invaluable process, establish a course of action.
Establish Your Course Of Action
"Define Your Systems" Worksheet
There’s something that all of our most successful clients do before they start this process, and it’s employing our “Define Your Systems” worksheet. It’s a simple exercise that helps you identify areas for improvement and establish a course of action to streamline them. Watch the video below for a demonstration of how we use this same worksheet to improve internal processes at Dream Firms.
Picking a Department
Step 1: Pick a department to focus on. Chances are that there is something that can be improved in most of your business departments. Selecting one to focus on will help you stay on track once you being the automation process. Will you be focusing on marketing, sales, fulfillment, operations, or finance?
Beginning and Ending Triggers
Establishing beginning and ending triggers for the process you want to streamline is essential. It tells your software or employees where to stop and start. The beginning trigger is the point at which the process beings. Let’s use the example of sales. A potential client booking a call on your website is the beginning trigger. The ending trigger for this is when they pay you or sign an engagement letter.
A common mistake is to assume that the end trigger here would be you supplying the client deliverables. But, that is a completely different process. Once a client signs your engagement letter, you move to the onboarding process, then the fulfillment process. Every stage should have its own separate plan for streamlining. Don’t automate everything at once. It will create confusion, and you will struggle.
Defining Your System Name
Now that you have your beginning and ending trigger established, you need to name your streamlined accounting workflow process. This is a very easy step to skip over, but it’s a VERY important one. The entire point of this is to maximize efficiency at your accounting firm. Staying organized is an important part of this exercise. We use the formula department name + beginning trigger + end trigger to name our processes.
The Perfect Path, Detour, and Exit
The last thing you need to do is determine the ideal path you want someone to take, and what you’ll do if they don’t follow the desired course of action. Let’s use the sales example we referenced above. Ideally, the client would book a call on your site, show up to your scheduled meeting, and sign up for your services.
That is the perfect path. When they follow this path, you can simply move them to the next part of the journey: onboarding. On your worksheet denote everything you think will help them accomplish this, for example, an appointment reminder email.
What happens if they don’t follow the perfect path. What if they book a call, but don’t show up? Or, what if they book a call, show up, and are not the right fit for your firm? This is where we introduce detours and exits. If the client doesn’t fit your dream client or doesn’t feel right, simply send them on their way. This is the exit path. This is where you send unqualified clients and price shoppers.
Should you send a client that didn’t show up for a meeting to the exit path? Things happen, and people miss meetings. If they fit your ideal client profile, it’s worth it to reintroduce them to your perfect path, with a detour. Your detour could be an email that lets them know they missed the meeting and provides a link to reschedule. Or, it might be a LinkedIn message offering to reschedule. Choose an approach that puts them back on the perfect path, and make sure you note what will help them accomplish this. The important part is that this is an automated process. You click one button, and it’s off your plate
How to Use the #1 Shortcut to Streamlining Your Accounting Workflow Process
At first, it will seem like streamlining your workflow takes up more of your time than the processes you are already doing. And initially, it might. But, once you have everything established, you’ll be able to sign prospective clients, onboard new clients, and send over deliverables with the click of a button. Long-term, the time you save will be exponentially more than the time it takes to plan everything out.
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