• Blogging about Financial and Accounting Industry

Improve your Practice Workflow this New FY

A great way to begin the new financial year is by reviewing and overhauling your current workflow and tune it for greater productivity and scale.

Here are five steps you can take to transform your practice:
 Step 1: Get your Task list right
 At the core of your workflow is your comprehensive Task list. It ought to be a finite and mutually exclusive list not exceeding 20 well crafted tasks. I can safely bet that most practices have this all muddled up. Get this one right and the rest will fall in place.Evaluate by asking these questions:

What inefficiencies can you spot in the way you are set up now? What  needs to be changed?
What are the reports that you are missing? Are you monitoring the health of your practice the way you should?
Do your Invoices and Quotes need to look different? Are you wasting too much time fiddling around but getting nowhere?

Get your task list right and you are well on your way.

Step 2: If it is important, it needs to be measured

So make sure you are capturing all relevant data  accurately and in a timely manner. The most important data element for your practice is time. Measure it to impact your practice productivity and eventually release time for yourself – to work on your practice and grow it.

Step 3: Know the functional features available to you 
Have a look at all the features which is provided by WorkflowMax and think how it helps your business. For instance, 9 out of 10 of WorkflowMax users DO NOT use Custom Fields. Using this helps you record useful client information – anything from your client’s key business metrics to how many [...]

Improving your Practice Efficiency

The harnessing of technology, how you position your services and the new expectations from staffing – are each instrumental in developing your Digital Practice. Yes, it is all about improving the efficiency of your firm. Efficiency has everything to do with what your current workflows reveal and how you are able to harness the technology that is already available to automate, free up time and boost the value of your offerings to clients, resulting in profitable growth.

Three Simple Action Points for upgrading efficiency in your Firm
1. Workflow Management
Panalitix ran a survey and found out that accountants over the year’s do the same 5 tasks every month. On an average it takes them 30 hours to do those tasks. To reduce time for those tasks you will need a workflow management tool like WorkflowMax. Which will help you get the following in place:

All information in one system (no need to switch between emails, files and documents)
Ease of Scheduling so your staff know what to do when and can focus on the job at hand
Clarity and Transparency of Deliverables and Deadlines in one system
A systematic management approach enabled by insightful reports from a well designed Job-task structure in WorkflowMax.

2. Talent Spectrum
An average accountant spends a considerable amount of time on administrative work that they should not be doing. They should rather be focusing their time and effort on core accounting tasks. A task like this should be addressed by a client administrator. He\She will be responsible for scheduling tasks, managing workflow, client information and admin tasks.
 Talent like that will need enough tech savvy to manage workflow management tools. Rather than go after fresh talent and [...]

Job Task Breakdown in XPM – How to do it Right!

Introduction:
Xero Practice Manager or Workflow Max is a job management software which helps practices and small business owners better manage their time and costs. Xero Practice Manager is offered FREE to Xero partners who have more than 25 clients (i.e. Silver Partner and above) in the Xero Ecosystem. Over the past year my colleague and I (both certified practice manager advisors) have been looking at different practices and observed a fundamental flaw in how practices set up their XPM Job Task Breakdown. If you don’t get your task list and job settings right, then you end up with scrambled reports.

What is Job Task Breakdown:
The task list is central to WorkflowMax settings. Time is captured against tasks and forms the foundation for measuring workflow productivity and efficiency, even for fixed price jobs. It is very important that you do not confuse tasks for jobs and vice versa. In very simple terms, a task is the work that you do for your clients on a day to day basis eg: AP, AR, Bank Reconciliation. A job in WorkflowMax is a compilation of tasks, costs and milestones. Therefore a Job gives you a overall view of the complete scope of work you have for your client during a particular period. Examples of Jobs are:

1. Monthly Bookkeeping Job 
2. Budget and Financial Analysis

Five Steps to get the most out of your Job Task Breakdown right now:

Step 1: First things First, Get your task list in order:
The first step is to take a close look at the tasks you have at hand. Follow the M.E.C.E rule (Mutually Exclusive Collectively Exhaustive). You should not have more than 40-50 tasks in your system. Once the [...]

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    New Competency Demands for the Accounting Profession – Part 2

New Competency Demands for the Accounting Profession – Part 2

Last week we examined the definition of  Workflow, Automated workflow and the various workflow categories. This week, let us look at how you can get this implemented into your practice.
We have put together an Infographic that gives you five steps for Successful Automated Workflow Implementation. Using these five steps, you will be able to take better control of your practice workflow and realize efficiencies on cost and effort. But, are you worried about finding time to do all this yourself?
Remember, it is best to engage experts to implement such things as your automated workflow journey while you focus on what you do best. Every successful entrepreneur will tell you that! As certified workflow advisors, we can sure help you. 

4 Steps to Document Management Success using WorkflowMax

As a Practice Owner – collaborating on documents and tracking correspondence is an important part of your game. The days of carrying around a suitcase filled with a number of files is well and truly behind us. Now most practice owners use cloud storage systems like Google drive, Box and DropBox. This is all good but do you think it is time for you to step up your game. Here are 4 Steps that you can take to kick it up a notch with collaboration and Document Management using WorkflowMax.

1. Rethink your Document Organization Machine:
Many of us start off using document management in an ad-hoc kind of way in the beginning – just a place to dump files you wanted to work on across multiple locations or share with clients. It is time to step back and rethink your strategy for better Document Organization.

2. Plan out your folder structure:
Here are some tips on improving your file organization – Your folder structure must reflect the way you work and recall information. You need to be able to read the titles of the folders and instantly know the hierarchy to follow in order to place or retrieve a particular file.

3. Automate as much as possible:
Automating takes away the need for you to form new habits as it’s all done for you. There are lots of ways to automate document management for a practice owner. You can use apps such as Mail Attachment Downloader to automatically save and download mail attachments or documents stored locally to the cloud. The major document management apps (Drive, DropBox, Box) all enable you to automatically sync documents stored locally.

4. Keep it all together:
When practices [...]

Three Tips that will help you manage your business better

The reporting feature of WorkflowMax is incredibly valuable when you get it right.

Three Tips to achieve great reporting and a bonus report package right at the end:
1. Begin with the End in Mind:  Take some time out and list down the most important questions you might want to ask of your practice. We will all agree that it is important to work on your practice instead of only working in your practice. And again, the way you categorize the jobs and tasks in Workflowmax is also very important, from a reporting standpoint and therefore demands your careful consideration.
Great reporting in WorkflowMax is easy when the system has been correctly and comprehensively setup to include the flow of all information and data in your practice. As much as its features support, remember to move things over to Workflowmax. For example, you can move in your client quote process in, if you have been using another system for this purpose..
2.Manage time with greater diligence: Daily time sheet entries will  give you the most accurate data for  better reporting. Additionally:

You can use custom notifications to alert teams when their actual time is approaching the estimated time on their jobs.
Lower your risk of project overruns by being able to review jobs daily.
You can issue and approve invoices promptly  in the system –and track your AR status for managing it more effectively.

3. Keep your WIP in check: The Work in Progress Manager or WIP in Workflowmax shows unbilled work – detailed by month or job status and provides customizable filters.
Make sure that the job status is kept current, in order to get accurate WIP reports
Here is a Bonus for [...]

What’s the big deal about Business Advisory anyway?

Are you one of those practice owners who are struggling to take off with your business advisory offering?
While bookkeeping and compliance work has been your bread and butter since, well, forever… Cloud accounting and software upgrades have reduced the errors in data considerably. Features such as automatic coding and bank feeds are making errors close to extinct – which of course is a good thing. Also practice owners are able to have a view of their client data at real time and they are able to make changes to it on the fly compared to having to wait to see their clients and because of that there are potentially fewer billable hours throughout the year. It’s not good just dipping your legs in the water, because becoming  a business advisory practice takes commitment and you need to take the plunge.
18% of the Practice owners said that they have a Lack of Commitment. Are you also just dipping your legs in the water? Find out by responding to the checklist and see where you stand with your Business Advisory Strategy. One of the Main Reasons you should consider succeeding with Business advisory services is less billable hours.

Three Success Keys to start implementing Business Advisory:
1. Finding out and solve Workflow Issues: Make sure service delivery is smooth and on time.
2. Overcoming the Capacity problem: Practice Owners simply do not have the time and resources. Nearly 13% of practice owners said that the lack of capacity is the main reason for not succeeding.
3. Commitment: Committing to the plan you created and sticking to it to make it all happen.
Also if you would like to discuss some of your headaches and [...]

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    Practice Transformation From 20th Century Accounting to 21st Century Advisory

Practice Transformation From 20th Century Accounting to 21st Century Advisory

As technology continues to disrupt the accounting industry, in order to stay ahead of the game, you need value added offerings to the client over and above the regular compliance work. Compliance jobs are becoming more and more commoditized and automated. Xero Tax and Xero Workpapers are the best examples for near automated workflows which considerably reduces the time and effort involved. So boosting value to your clients in the form of consulting and advisory services cannot be ignored any more. You need to  move your status from a number cruncher to a trusted advisor, while also increasing the revenue in the practice. Let’s look at what is happening around.

A look at the numbers and why advisory services is a must:
Now you might think that it’s easier said than done. Here are some revealing numbers that will  shed some light on the state of business advisory services in the accounting industry as well as the health of the practice in the country. A 2015 survey held by Business fitness, titled the ‘The Good, the Bad & the Ugly’ of the Australian Accounting Profession revealed the following information:
“As a whole, business advisory services fell to 12.1% of revenue. The two revenue groups reversing this trend were at either ends of the spectrum: the small Practices earning fees of less than $500k and the larger Practices generating $10m+ in revenue. Survey after survey reveals that SMEs want these advisory services from their accountants but the real question stemming from the 2015 Good Bad Ugly is “Do they want to pay for them?”. The other relevant question is “Do accountants have the expertise and skills to be able to provide these services?”.
It also revealed [...]

New Competency Demands for the Accounting Profession

In this era where the accounting industry has been and continues to be disrupted by cloud technology the importance of the idea of workflow cannot be overstated. Below is a brief introduction to workflow:
So what is a workflow?
Workflow is the flow of information and control in a non-manufacturing process. Workflow applications vary from simple processing of expense reports to complex loan processing applications.
Workflow processes are made up of three distinct categories of activities:

Value Adding
Hand- Off
Control Activities

The percentage of time and resources that are value-adding is quite small (5-15 percent) while the amount of hand-off and control activities time is quite large (60-85 percent). Thus, significant improvement opportunities exist in workflow management.
What is an automated workflow?
The Workflow Management Coalition (WfMC) defines automated workflow management as “the automation of a business process, in whole or part, during which documents, information, or tasks are passed from one participant to another for action, according to a set of procedural rules.”
Types of Automated Workflow:

1. Transaction workflow:
With transaction workflow, a very involved policy or procedure is typically described and imposed by an practice on a particular process. These processes are usually evolved over time and are usually done on a day to day basis with very little change. Example for this type of workflow:

Scanning the paper documents (Tools like Receipt Bank and Shoe-boxed) and syncing it into the accounting system.
2. Ad-Hoc Workflow:
Some tasks and activities in practices are more project oriented . Ad-hoc workflow applications have goals and deliverable whose steps are more difficult to define with any degree of predictability . Ad hoc workflow tends to involve creative and usually higher-level knowledge workers. Sometimes, [...]

3 Steps to Kick off your Business Advisory Services

Are you one of those Practice Owners who is struggling to take off with your business advisory offering?
One of the main reasons you should consider succeeding with Business advisory services is the ‘digital disruption’ of your industry. The game has changed and we know that both continuity as well as growth depends on the relevance of the service offering. Bookkeeping and compliance work has been your bread and butter since, well, forever…
But cloud accounting and software upgrades have commoditized it considerably. Automation of coding and bank feeds are minimizing data entry and saving time – which of course is a good thing! Also practice owners are able to have a view of their client data real time and they are able to make changes to it on the fly compared to having to wait to see their clients. It’s not enough just dipping your legs in the water, because becoming a business advisory practice takes commitment and you need to take the plunge. 18 % of the Practice owners surveyed are not able to move ahead with Business Advisory because of a Lack of Commitment. Are you also only dipping your legs in the water? Find out by responding to the checklist here.

Three steps to start implementing Business Advisory Services:
1. Getting professional help to optimize your Workflow: You need a robust job and task management system as well as a well designed staff allocation system to be in firm control as well as free yourself up for more time on the client’s business.

2. Overcoming the Capacity problem: Nearly 13% of practice owners said that the lack of capacity is the main reason for not succeeding. If you get your workflow management [...]