In my previous blog post, I detailed the many benefits of automation. You can check out the blog here. Technology in automation has grown to a point where you can implement it in almost every aspect of your practice. It is important for accountants and bookkeepers to know precisely what automation is capable of doing and where they can use it to maximize the benefits. Here are the key functions every accountant and bookkeeper needs to be automating to stay ahead of the pack.
After weeks or months of prospecting, you have finally turned these individuals into clients, but how are you going to build a cohesive relationship with them so that you can work more effectively? Onboarding is the structure or “backbone” in which you and your clients will communicate and collaborate. Providing automation to your onboarding will establish effortless consistency to you, your team, and your clients. Creating and sharing documents are an integral aspect of your practice, you and your clients need to establish the working conditions so that collaboration will be problem-free and as you know, collaboration with clients is imperative to accountants and bookkeepers. With automation, you can also streamline how and when you and your clients will send and receive documents so that your collaboration will run smoothly.
To get started, at the minimum you should maintain a checklist and if possible automate your onboarding and management of your practice using solutions like CCH iFirm, Practice Ignition, or the any other that suits your needs. Look for software that is catered to accountants and helps you with client management, along with automating your back-office functions.
Invoicing & Billing
Invoicing and payments account for a large portion of the business process for accountants and bookkeepers. A lot of time is spent on finding out the status of a bill or invoice. Which ones are paid? Which ones are outstanding? Has the client even received it? These questions should not take up so much of your time, but they do and it greatly disrupts your workflow. Automating these tasks should be a priority for every accountant and bookkeeper because it saves you so much time and energy. Each hour you spend running around sending out and chasing payments is an hour you could spend finding more clients or developing stronger relationships that will grow your business.
Through automation you are able to schedule and send out recurring invoices to loyal clients, receive payments online, and pay your monthly bills with very minimal time consumed on your end. Not only that, but solutions today automatically send out reminders in the form of e-mails, text messages, or even phone calls for any missed payments by your clients so that you don’t have to do it yourself.
Not only does it save you time, but it also saves you paper since everything is done digitally; you have no more need for physical filing and storage. There is NO reason you should not be automating your invoicing and billing.
Managing your documents physically and even digitally can be a hassle. Physical documents are often kept in boxes, unorganized, damaged, or missing entirely. Digital data often comes from many sources on your many accounts over the web and with that includes scrolling after scrolling, page after page. Automation helps you eliminate all of these problems and makes document management easy and quick.
As we mentioned earlier in this article, you can go digital and eliminate all your physical documents. Using OCR (optical character recognition) technology allows you to scan or take pictures of a physical document and then convert it into a searchable digital file that will then be stored in the cloud or locally on your desktop. You can also import key financial data into your accounting software; saving you so much time, space, and trouble from scouring through boxes.
Some documents can already be stored digitally such as bank statements through online banking. However, it can be very time-consuming to go through month after month of statements to find a single purchase. Also banks only keep your statements for only a limited period of time but tax authorities in most countries request records for 7 years or more. Today you can download or even better fetch all your relevant bank statements and organize them accordingly to your liking so that you can find what you need whenever you need it, all while creating your own digital database for all your important financial data. These documents are already converted into digital files which can be shared easily between you and your clients.
Manual data entry is a dread for any accountant or bookkeeper. There is no way to avoid it; it’s a part of the job. However, automation can help you reduce the need for manual data entry greatly. Just above, we explained how you could scan documents and import the key financial data from the physical documents to your software. Going beyond that, automation is able to enter the relevant information and numbers from those documents directly into the correct forms and reports where they belong. This comes in handy especially during tax season where you are needed to go through and enter the data from massive amounts of varying tax slips; making tax season a bit less painful. USA and Canadian Tax experts accounting firm AGTax saves more than 20 minutes on each return since introducing automation in their practice. You will notice that the amount of tax returns you can complete in an hour will rise drastically. Manual data entry cannot be eliminated completely, but it can be turned into a breeze through automation.
Automating these key functions will make your job a lot easier so that you can provide more value to your clients. You already have very limited hours in a day and with automation you are able to reduce the hours spent on tedious tasks and increase the hours you can spend on growing your practice and making more money. The time you save automating these key functions is invaluable to you and your clients.