Digital accounting tools have come a long way in the last 10-15 years. Not only are computers powerful tools for helping complete accounting work and simplify complex calculations and formulas, even more recent technology has given accounting firms the ability to streamline their operations. Today, accounting firm team members can collaborate with one another from anywhere in the world on almost any device.
If you want to unlock the full power technology offers for your firm, it’s important to make use of cloud collaboration tools to share files and make updates to team projects. Read on to learn more about integrated file sharing and how it can help take your efficiency – and revenue – to the next level.
What is integrated file sharing?
“Why do I need a new file-sharing system?” you might be asking yourself, thinking that your existing method of email, Slack, or other traditional channels works just fine. These options may be working, but how efficient are they? Is your current file-sharing setup actually benefiting your processes, or is it just the way you’ve always done things?
Integrated file sharing goes beyond the traditional back-and-forth email threads where important documents and messages get buried deep under days and weeks of replies. With this method, all the files you need can be stored in a central folder or drive. And thanks to a number of valuable features, integrated file sharing can offer substantial benefits for both an accounting firm and its clients.
Benefits for clients
If you’re not already employing integrated file sharing in your firm, some clients may show resistance to transitioning to a new system. The onus is on you to explain to them why this method can be valuable for helping them get the most out of their work with your firm.
Just a few of the benefits of integrated file sharing for accounting firm clients include:
- Access documents/files anytime
- Don’t need to contact someone for help or to resolve a simple question
- Better organization of materials – especially important for complex accounts
Benefit for your team
It’s not just your clients who will benefit from implementing integrated file sharing into your accounting firm processes. In fact, we’d argue that most of the advantages you gain will be enjoyed internally – or your team will at least appreciate them more!
Here are a couple of examples of specific ways integrated file sharing helps accounting firm employees collaborate more efficiently:
- Track time anywhere. If an employee happens to be working on-site at a client’s office or traveling for a meeting, they can still log hours they worked without having to wait until they’re back at a work computer.
- Notifications of important updates. If a file gets edited, moved to a new location, or uploaded for the first time into a shared folder, you can set up systems to notify the right team members. This ensures your team can stay on track and doesn’t miss anything that may have happened on a project while they were working on something else.
- Better understand what the team is working on. Internal project managers must be able to get a sense of how their team’s capacity is distributed at any given moment. In the world of remote work, this can be difficult. An integrated file-sharing and collaboration system allows PMs to check hourly reports, comments, and other kinds of correspondence to gain key insights into their team without having to call everyone into a meeting or give the team another email to respond to.
- Easily share files even if one person is on a mobile device and the other person is on a desktop computer in an office.
Tips for getting started with an integrated file sharing system
While it may be possible to set up a firm-wide file-sharing system for all of the different functions of your accounting business, this approach will put a heavy burden on your firm’s IT resources since each system will have to be implemented separately. Instead of creating a different system for time tracking, marketing, project work, etc., a better approach is to pick one comprehensive platform that has everything you need and requires minimal configuration and customization.
While this method may be able to add efficiency once everything is up and running, the process of selecting, installing, and integrating a new system designed to touch every function of your firm is more comprehensive than just picking a new CRM or email tool. With this understanding in mind, we advise you to take time to think about different accounting practice management software tools and dig a little deeper into their file-sharing features. If possible, make a list of specific needs you have and keep that list handy when reviewing prospective options for software.
With the right goals in mind and a careful selection method in place, you’ll be able to choose an integrated file-sharing system that offers multiple benefits for both you and your clients, improving efficiency and ultimately helping you earn more revenue.