What technology and tools do you use in your Practice? The response to this question is likely the same across most firms:
- Practice management software
- Tax software
- Audit software
- Excel and other Office Tools
What these and the many other tools CPAs use in their Practice have in common is they focus primarily on specific tasks that need to be performed for the client. What they don’t address is how the work is processed and managed by the firm.
That’s where workflow comes in. Workflow touches virtually every part of your firm – and you are doing it today – but it may not be well automated or managed. For example, the engagement letter often falls through the cracks in many firms. The firm performs the work, reviews it with their client and then realize they don’t have a signed engagement letter. A simplified version of this workflow would be:
Complete Client Work>>>Execute Engagement Letter Fire Drill>>>Look Unorganized to Your Client
A great first step to figuring out your firm’s workflow is by shining a light on the existing ways you service your clients and your firm’s internal process management. You need to figure out how work gets assigned and executed in your organization. This gives you the opportunity to redefine and standardize how work gets done. Your workflow solution can then be set up to facilitate the most efficient and effective process for your firm.
Is workflow worth the investment of time and resources to implement? The answer is likely yes and below are four specific benefits good workflow can deliver to your firm:
- Increased Visibility: Workflow gives the firm much better insight into where everything stands in a particular process. This is particularly important to managers responsible for several client engagements and team members. They know where everything is.
- Consistency in Approval: All approvals processes are not the same. For example, a client who may be high risk (start up, risky industry) would typically require a different approval process than other clients. Workflow ensures the right approval process is executed.
- Risk Reduction: Most audit and tax processes are designed. to reduce risk and ensure compliance. Workflow plays a critical role in this effort.
- Building Your Brand: A technology savvy CPA firm will create a better brand impression to both clients and potential recruits than one who is not.