From juggling multiple client relationships to carving out time to analyze complex financial data on a strict deadline, busy accounting pros face many time management challenges.
Better use of time means less crunch time and more accurate, high-value data and financial insights for clients, leaving them feeling supported. It also ensures your firm's team has what they need to work efficiently.
Imagine being able to manage more clients, take on bigger contracts, and stop working 85 hours a week. Read on to learn six actionable time-saving tips to help you do more work in less time.
Follow These Time Management Tips at Your Firm
Tip #1: Set clear goals and priorities
Goals don't just happen on a business level. Every day, individuals and teams need to know what they must accomplish today, by the end of the week, month—and before the tax season rush.
It's vital to establish high-priority tasks. If you do have limited time, these are the tasks that need to be completed without fail.
You then organize those tasks, assign a responsible person, and set a deadline. Every task should be aligned to a long-term objective, so you and your team know what outcome the task is facilitating. This provides clarity and incentive to complete the task correctly and on time because you're all working toward the same long-term goals. This is the most critical piece of the time management puzzle by far and is the definition of strategic alignment.
Tip #2: Build efficient workflow processes
Searching for files, manually creating reports, retyping communications you use all the time, and re-entering the same data into multiple places are huge time wasters. Prioritize streamlined document management and data entry in your firm, and you'll feel as though you've hit the time goldmine.
Leverage technology for automation and productivity. Find a solution that can;
- Streamline your schedule with automatic daily work log management
- Automate client reminders and allow them to book their appointments 24/7 during your availability windows
- Consolidate and manage customer communications across channels with a centralized inbox
- Streamline payments and invoicing
- Use collaborative tools for team efficiency
- Keep clients informed and engaged with automated emails like thank yous, offers, new services, helpful tips, and news
Tip #3: Maximize Your schedule with time blocking
If you let clients take the reins on appointment booking, you must ensure you'll be available. At the same time, if you fill up your whole schedule, you'll get nothing else done or have time for lunch. This is where time blocking comes in.
Time blocking allows you to create a structured daily or weekly schedule that includes designated time for everything you need to do.
Tip #4: Delegate work and empower your team
Even small CPA firms typically have a team of accountants, bookkeepers, contractors, and/or support staff. When practical, the person responsible for a task is the least trained person who can still do the job competently (and legally). This frees up those with the most advanced skills to:
- Handle complex client issues
- Audit team performance
- Take responsibility for the overall client experience with the firm
Identify tasks suitable for delegation and give your team the tools they need to do good work.
Tip #5: Focus on strong client communication and set expectations
Maintain clear and proactive communication with clients—even if you're a hands-on kind of CPA firm, clients appreciate the consistency of automation. A firm that automates at least some client communication will deliver a superior customer experience. It will free you up to spend time with clients when needed without sacrificing other relationships.
Set realistic client expectations for yourself. Have strategies in place for handling client emergencies without disrupting workflow. These may include a catalog of troubleshooting emails to send off to a client first when they have a problem while reassuring them they can book an appointment with their CPA if needed.
Tip #6: Regularly review and adjust processes
Workflows and processes must be reviewed to determine if they:
- Are being executed effectively
- Work in the real world as they did in planning
- Are experiencing roadblocks that need to be addressed to enhance efficiency further
Automating and reviewing workflow analytics reports ensures your CPA firm runs at its best. You can see how changes impact productivity, employee satisfaction, client experience, and the bottom line.
Create a culture of continuous improvement within the firm to transform your practice.
Busy accountants need time management strategies
Time management is vital to generating personal and team productivity. It starts with setting goals and aligning tasks with them. Then, automate what you can, delegate, and create a culture of ongoing improvement.
Remember, good time management doesn't just happen—but it is a game-changer. So, firms must proactively invest in the training and tools that make it possible for the practice, the team, and the clients to manage their time effectively while working together.
A client relationship management solution can help you automate and manage your practice, identify opportunities for improvement, and centralize client communication to deliver an amazing client experience.