Even if everything in your business seems to be going well, workflow mistakes can put major constraints on your revenue, profits, and capacity for growth. That’s why it’s important to be proactive about workflows. It’s not enough to sit back and have confidence that your firm’s processes are all unfolding smoothly – you should constantly be striving to optimize them to increase efficiency and grow the business.
As you go about evaluating your accounting firm’s workflows, here are five common mistakes to look for that may be causing a bottleneck in your operations:
1. Not automating enough
Whenever a member of your team has to devote manual effort to a task, it uses their most scarce resource: time. That’s why it’s so critical to ensure your staff is using their time on the most important work that helps the company succeed. Not only does it waste resources when employees use their time on repetitive, mundane tasks that should be automated, it typically has a negative impact on employee experience. Doing tasks by hand when you know they could be completed more quickly by a computer can be especially frustrating.
This problem has a relatively simple solution: use accounting practice management software to help you streamline everything from staff time and billing to client invoicing. Software can instantly handle repetitive tasks that eat into your team’s workday.
2. Failing to create – and stick to – processes
Even the most common accounting processes can be completed in several different ways, depending on how someone learned the processes and what kinds of tools they have at their disposal to complete the job. Unfortunately, if you don’t create a standardized process and show all of your team members how to stick to it, some may be tempted to do things their own way to try to be more efficient. Not only can this lead to mistakes and confusion, but in the worst scenarios, your team might take liberties that put sensitive data at risk of exposure.
To solve this mistake, make sure you have standardized templates and processes that team members can reference when necessary. Also, ensure that your training procedures are up to par so that it’s easier for new team members to quickly catch on.
3. Expecting too much of clients
The nature of accounting work requires input, files and signatures from clients as time goes on so that work can be completed in a timely nature. Both the accounting firm and its clients must participate in a project for it to run successfully. However, there is a clear line between collaborating with clients to complete accounting projects and demanding so much from your clients that it interferes with their own day-to-day responsibilities.
To solve this problem, think about everything you can do to make life easier for your clients. Whether that means using software that establishes a client portal for them to upload and download files, or allowing them to e-sign documents instead of printing them out, be sure to explore as many options as possible to make your processes easier. It may be more work up front, but the efforts will pay off in the form of increased client satisfaction that leads to greater revenue.
4. Using too many different tools separately
It may not seem like a huge deal to use several different tools to manage different processes. Everyone has their preferences, and it’s important to maximize efficiency at work. Unfortunately, your thoughts might be quite different once it’s time to coordinate the data from all of these different tools. Moving in and out of different accounting applications to collect data and put it all in a central place is one of the most monotonous tasks for any accounting professional.
To remove this obstacle, start using a single tool that manages all the tasks you need to handle in one place. There are many options for comprehensive practice management software that helps you with client-facing work, internal team management, and other important tasks – without having to jump between several different applications.
5. Not sharing files securely
An accounting firm has access to some of a company’s most sensitive information, from revenues to expenses to payroll. If this information was accessed by the wrong parties, it could be a disastrous scenario for the company and a big liability for their accounting firm. As a service provider, it’s your job to ensure that all transactions are done in accordance with proper security protocols that keep sensitive data protected.
There are plenty of encryption tools available online that can be used with your existing email client to add an extra security layer to files. You might also consider creating a secure file-sharing portal that clients can access. As mentioned above, it’s always best to minimize the number of disparate tools needed so that you can streamline your workflows.
Final thoughts: Avoid mistakes to improve business
As you evaluate your accounting firm’s operations, workflow mistakes might not jump out to you right away. But if you don’t find and correct them, they can cause a serious drain on your revenue and constrict growth over the long term. By following the tips presented here, you can make your business more efficient and please clients by making it easier for them to get the results they want.