5 Ways to Increase Efficiency in Your Accountancy Firm
Posted on 4th April 2017 in Advisory
Written by Freya Hughes
If you’re driving from point A to point B, you take the simplest route. It’s a no-brainer to take the most direct roads. While the country roads might be prettier and quieter, the motorway will get you there in a more timely fashion. It’s the same with running your firm: there are long-winded “desktop” ways of operating or the cloud, which is much more efficient. This blog will give you five shortcuts to success.
1. Use the cloud
The cloud has brought instant access to real-time data. You’ll save on space and equipment as information isn’t stored in one place, and is easily accessible with an internet connection. This reduces your need for specialist hardware and software, and you’ll save a bit on energy costs and office space too. Everything is backed up as you go, so no more worrying about a break in, virus or natural disaster.
Platforms such as Xero and QuickBooks allow accountants to accomplish basic tasks quickly. This frees up more time so firms can look to offer new services to clients and generate more revenue. While you might need to adapt your services to an extent as the mountains of paperwork and duplication are a thing of the past, you’ll be able to work with your clients in more depth or take on more clients.
2. Increase automation with business apps
Browse Xero’s Marketplace and Quickbooks’ App Store for integrated, time-saving applications. Here at FUTRLI we pull every single transaction from Xero and QuickBooks on a daily basis, keeping your clients’ Forecasts and Dashboards up to date with their actual performance. Controlling their cashflow to advance business growth has never been easier. If you need a hand with your day-to-day management, employee timesheets, or invoicing, have a look at our 7 top picks from the Xero Marketplace here.
3. Self-imposed deadlines
Get in the driving seat here: accelerate your efficiency with self–discipline. Ever notice that when you’re leaving early or off on holiday, you seem to be able to work at lightning speed? Nobody wants to return from vacation to heaps of unfinished tasks. Start giving yourself small deadlines, for example, allocate an hour for the completion of one task, tackle your to-do list, and actually start ticking stuff off.
Impose a set number of days to turn around clients’ work – if you and your team are closing jobs in set times, you’ll give yourselves more opportunity to take on more clients. And if you are over or under on assumptions, you can adjust as necessary (this, of course, affects your pricing!).
4. Identify areas of waste
As the leader, you need to be looking at what your team are doing that’s eating up the majority of their time. During a pitstop, any component slowing down the driver’s performance is replaced. Looking at how long managing your clients’ documents, for example, and timing how long it takes to share the information will give you a valuable insight as to how you could be streamlining the way you work. If you use an integrated work application, this can be done instantly. Therefore any time spent managing the information is removed. While this could be just 10 or 15 minutes in a day, think how you could use that time to target new clients, or increase your contact time with clients. Investing time in clients as an advisor equals means more fee growth.
Remember: if the time of highly qualified (and expensive) professionals is eaten up by routine data entry, you’re not optimising your resources. It’ll also be harder to justify the fees you charge. Look into the practice management offerings from both Xero and QuickBooks, which work to streamline the daily operations in your firm. Benefits include reducing your admin overheads by recording time spent on tasks, monitoring work in progress and running your invoicing and reports.
5. Mobile working
Instant messaging, web chats and video calls have made the working day more efficient. You no longer necessarily need to schedule a meeting with a client if they’re happy to video call. Here at FUTRLI we use Zoom, which allows us to chat face-to-face and take over screens remotely (with permission, of course) for tuition and advice. This could mean you’re removing all travel time from your day and who likes traffic/cramped subways? With less time wasted being on the move, you’re free to use more billable hours productively.
You could work at your client’s office for the morning, meet the team and learn how they operate. Not only will this cut the wasteful tasks from your day, it’ll make you part of the action, and get a better grasp of their business. These seven core components of a business will allow you to pivot any conversation with an existing client into value for them and an increased fee for you.
As we hurtle towards digital tax systems in the UK, and the Big Four accounting firms now offering services for smaller and medium sized businesses, it’s imperative to get digital now.