One best practice you should follow as an accountant or bookkeeper is to intentionally assess your practice operations. You can lean into what is working for your business and get rid of what doesn’t work. Many accounting organizations are simply not running as smoothly as possible. Below are some common mistakes you can stop doing to help your practice operate more profitably and efficiently this year.
Stop Writing Engagement Letters Manually
An important but very time-consuming workflow for accounting businesses is the creation of engagement letters. These letters are an agreement between the accountant and the client that lays out the specifics of the project, including a description of the work being completed, pricing, the client and accountant’s responsibilities, and other key information.
Even though there is a different engagement letter for each individual client, there are many common elements that are repeated for similar projects (such as audits). Given this, setting up templates is a great way to gain efficiencies in a common task that is repeated often.
Even better, adopt an accounting practice management software solution that automates much of the engagement letter workflow. With a click of a few buttons, you can create the engagement letter. The letter can then be shared with your client via a secure portal, signed electronically by them, and automatically returned to you and saved in a secure location.
Stop Sending Files Back and Forth Through Email
Email is (unfortunately) still the most common way to send files to your client, but there are a couple of big disadvantages to sharing financial information this way.
First, email is not an efficient place to store client files. We have all spent valuable time digging through old emails looking for specific files. If we take the time to actually save files to a network folder, the naming conventions are often not consistent, which still makes finding the files later difficult.
A second disadvantage is that most client files contain sensitive information that should only be seen by authorized parties. Sharing these private files through email is not safe or secure. Bad actors can hack email or intercept files, which leaves you at risk.
Instead, consider sharing files using a secure file sharing solution. This allows you to encrypt the files you are sending to clients. Encryption is a way of encoding information so that only authorized parties can open and read the file that is encrypted. If you are not encrypting your files, you are leaving both yourself and your clients vulnerable to hackers and other bad actors.
Stop Manually Sending Invoices
Many accounting practices are still billing their clients manually. In this manual process, someone in the organization takes the billable hours worked for each client and manually creates the invoice. Then, the email is either printed and mailed or emailed to the client. The client will then either write a check or send their credit card information. Someone then needs to process the payment and apply it to the client’s outstanding balance.
If any of these steps sound like your process, 2022 is an opportunity to cut down on this wasted time and effort. This is especially true if you do the same type of work for each client. Consider exploring an accounting practice management software solution that will help automate the invoicing process.
With a practice management suite, the invoices will be generated with the click of a button, including the client’s address and key contact information. The software will integrate with time and billing and automatically pull in the billable charges to the client. Then the invoice can be shared electronically with the client, and they can submit payment via a link. The software will automatically process the payment and apply it to the invoice.
It’s never too late for you to take stock of your business and make improvements to your processes. Chances are, there are some common tasks you are doing manually or insecurely. Simple changes can upgrade your operations and bring long-term rewards for your business. Utilizing an Accounting Practice Management Software package will jumpstart these improvements and automate many phases of your business.