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The Role of Technology: Strengthening Relationships between Accounting Firms & Clients – Part 1
2020 is the modern age of digitization, and today, almost every industry has leveraged technology to streamline its internal and external processes, and the accounting industry is no different. The role of technology in accounting like blockchain, artificial intelligence, automation, and more have transformed the way businesses operate.
This is not only helping the CPA firms alone but their clients as well since they get timely and more efficient services from them. So, let’s get started and know how exactly technology is strengthening the relationship between accounting firms and clients.
The Changing Factors for Technology Use
In the past, decisions on the use of technology were mainly based on the following criteria:
- Business management (technology being treated either as an overhead or a strategic asset)
- Main vendors (Intuit, Thomson Reuters, CCH-Wolters Kluwer, etc.)
Today, technology decisions get influenced by the following:
- Client needs
- Industry talent
- Team collaboration
- The mobile platform
- Global resources
This clearly shows us that factors that drive technology decisions change with time, and the criteria mentioned above established that technology has become a necessity and not an option anymore.
The Future Anticipation
In order to leverage technology in the future, it is imperative that you figure out your future plans or future vision. The following 6 parameters can help you devise a future-centric vision with respect to technology:
- Integration: Seamless flow of data through workflow
- Elimination: Elimination of processes of minimal value
- Speed: Real-time thinking; not based on historical or other facts
- Consolidation: Enterprise serving and elimination of reconciliation and redundant data
- Automation: Automated Processes
- Accuracy: Using AI tools and automation to eliminate error
Client-Based Apps for Accountants & Bookkeepers
Based on your specific requirements, you may select one or multiple apps for your business. This apps will help your accounting firm improve client relationship efficiently. The apps listed below range from the traditional ones to the technologically-advanced ones.
1. Financial Close Management Software
If you are searching for accurate and fast software for closing the books, financial close management software will surely make it to the top.
It provides you with all the real-time updates for the tasks which are associated with month-end closing, along with the following benefits:
- Smooth audits: Ensure shorter and smoother audits by getting your documents organized effortlessly.
- Single platform: Have a single platform for the assignment of status, due dates, and responsibilities.
- Automate reconciliations: Reconcile individual transactions automatically to validate GL balances using artificial intelligence.
- Enable Crucial Analysis: Built-in flux to analyze financial changes while you analyze the performance of your business.
- To meet the changing operations and finance needs, customers have the option to extend their CPM platform value.
- Enhanced alignment of the team.
Software Example: BlackLine, CCH Tagetik, OneStream Software, FloQast, Trintech, Adra by Trintech, ReconArt, LucaNet, FYIsoft and many more.
2. Cloud-Based Software for Project Management
Cloud-based project management software is increasingly becoming popular since it allows you to work from anywhere, giving you the option to update your statuses and projects remotely.
Offered by application service providers such as software-as-a-service (SaaS); this type of software helps the team to collaborate and meet the requirements of the client, along with managing scope, budget, and time constraints using cloud-based technology.
Project Management Essentials:
- Planning (resource allocation, forecasting, and scheduling)
- Tracking (analysis and reports, expense, time, budget, permission settings, task management, etc.)
- Collaboration (internal messaging, document sharing)
Software Example: Basecamp, Zoho Projects, Asana, ClickUp, Wrike, Trello, Jetpack Workflow and many more
3. Paperless System for Document Management
Paperless documentation is the need of the hour as everything is going digital. If you own an accounting firm, you probably know that you need to manage a lot of documents. Having a manual approach for the same can consume a lot of time and effort. On the other hand, managing these documents digitally can not only save your valuable time and effort but help you to save, store, and manage every kind of file easily.
This includes tax forms, video files, photos, word documents, e-mails, spreadsheets, PDF, and more. Another benefit of storing the files digitally is that you get to access the files instantly by searching for them in the specific folders, helping you answer client queries a short span of time.
Software Example: PDF Transformer Pro, Evernote, Adobe Acrobat, PDFelement for Business, Formstack Documents, Dot Compliance, and Samepage.
4. The Finest Tax Software
Tax Software has revolutionized the accounting industry by making tax preparation and filing extremely easy. Every CPA has specific requirements, and one should choose as per the same, along with making sure that it integrates with your other software, especially the document management system. In a nutshell, you get the following advantages:
- Knowing the Tax Code is Not Necessary: With tax software, there is no need for you to remember the text code. It is managed by software itself through some of the answers you provide against its questions. For example, TurboTax makes sure that none of the credits or text detections are missed by you, which you are eligible for through the same process.
- Automatically Updated: Text software like TurboTax automatically updates all the information related to the new tax laws and the IRS guidelines. This means that you will always keep compliance with the same and never face any kind of penalty by the IRS.
- Tax Information Collection: Your Tax software comes with the ability to collect information related to your tax from external sources such as payroll processes. You don’t have to type entire W-2 data as you can simply download the same from an ADP processor, saving yourself time and effort, along with ensuring accuracy.
- Best for basic returns: H&R Block Free
- Best for itemize beginning: H&R Block Deluxe
- Superior for complex returns: TurboTax
- Good for the budget: TaxSlayer, TaxAct
5. System for Contractors and Employees
The following platforms and systems will help manage your employees and contractors with ease:
Upwork: It is a platform that can provide you with an efficient contractor to help you manage your clients’ projects and tasks related to marketing, admin, social media, website, etc.
Accountingfly: This is a job site that is designed exclusively for the accounting industry.
Zoho Recruit: This software helps you with job requisitions, scheduling of the interviews, and discovering the suitable candidates.
Bersin: Bersin by Deloitte provides you with unmatched HR Services, tools, and insights, required to make informed business decisions and predict industry trends.
ATS (Applicant Tracking System): This software helps you in streamlining your process for recruiting and hiring, including job applications and postings.
TurboHire: It provides you with a single platform for the following:
- Interview scheduling
- Automated job promotion on highest job boards
- Coordination with candidates and hiring managers
- Candidate profile evaluation
- Video interviewing
- Coding platform for the editor
Other Software Example: Teamtailor, Freshteam, CEIPAL TalentHire, Recooty, and many more.
6. Tools for Integration
Integration tools help users to increase productivity, automate workflows and connect apps. Most of the accountants prefer cloud accounting software since that helps them save money and time, along with meeting the business needs at the same time. The best part about cloud-based tools is that it allows you to integrate with various applications.
When you integrate your accounting applications and Customer Relationship Management tool (CRM), you are able to share data and elements like reports, inventory, and invoices seamlessly, eliminating the manual data entry approach and the associated time and effort.
What makes it a Must?
- Eliminates time wastage associated with double data entry.
- Bad data and errors can cost you a lot.
- A single platform helps manage different apps like Zendesk, QuickBooks Online, Keap, Shopify, etc.
- Provides you with real-time tracking.
Software Example: Zapier, Integromat, Automate, Microsoft Flow, Workato
7. Knowledge-Based Tools
Tools for organizing and managing knowledge have become essential in the accounting industry. Google Sites, which is available free of cost for Gmail account users and comes with any subscription for Google Apps, is an ideal choice for the same. Basically, it is an online information library about your subject matter, product, department, or service.
Your customers can easily use it for themselves to look out for the answers with the help of Google search. Concerning your employees, it is considered to be an essential internal resource that helps you to integrate into your support channels of help test software.
One can easily share and access the information on any device, paving the way for the creation, collaboration, and publishing of an individual knowledge base. These tools are one of the best solutions for providing quick answers against customer queries, booting customer relationships. In short, you get the following benefits:
- Enhanced agent productivity.
- Knowledge flourishing.
- Leverages collaboration and employee engagement.
- Easy onboarding of employees.
- Provides recent content.
- Keeps customers happy by anticipating their needs and building confidence through regular customer support.
Software Example: Google Sites, Zendesk, Document360, SAP Litmos, Zoho Desk, Freshdesk, Confluence, Bitrix24, and many more.
8. Tools for Email Marketing
Email marketing campaigns are such powerful solutions that they enable you to reach your customers fast and answer their queries in quick turnaround time. This is one marketing tool that brings in the highest ROI. The following reasons explain why email marketing is used why most of the business worldwide:
- It is one of the best marketing platforms for investing your hard-earned money.
- It demands the least resources and time.
- It is a highly cost-effective solution.
- 91% of adults in the USA prefer receiving promotional emails from the businesses they deal with. (MarketingSherpa)
- As compared to Twitter and Facebook, email marketing is 40 times better when it comes to acquiring new customers. (McKinsey)
- Associated benefits with Mailchimp- Email for marketing to your existing leads and customer:
- Reach and persuade an audience that is already engaged.
- Send targeted messages effortlessly.
- Drive profitability.
- Global audience reach.
- Easy sharing of exceptional offers and deals.
Software Example: Sender, Sendinblue, Omnisend, SendPulse, Benchmark Email, Mailchimp, MailerLite and many more
9. Phone System
Today, almost 75% of companies have started to use cloud-based platforms or services. If we go by the prediction of business analysts, the global market for cloud services will reach $158.8 billion approximately.
The cloud phone system not only benefits big enterprises but startups too. Many of these systems offer advanced features for unified communication, unlike in the past, where businesses were dependent on the use of on-site and physical equipment like PBX cabinet for applications and phone systems.
Having a dedicated telephone system in place helps you in conducting your business well, getting in touch with prospective clients, and communicating with your customers.
Software Example: Grasshopper, Dialpad Talk, Aircall, RingCentral Office, Vonage Business Communications, 8×8 Virtual Office, GlobalMeet Collaboration, Nextiva, and many more
10. Sales/ CRM
Without having customers, no accounting firm can ever exist or scale, and the success of the firm is largely dependent upon the way the customer database is handled. It is always challenging to find new customers, and once you find them, you have to establish and maintain long-term relationships with them.
Sales/CRM software helps you in centralizing, optimizing, and streamlining your communication channels. The more you know what your customers want, the better you are able to establish and maintain relationships with them. This is the only reason that they improve customer retention by almost 27%.
Through there feedback, they pave the way for new ideas and concepts, along with bringing in revenue at the same time. By meeting specific customer demands, accounting firms are able to enhance loyalty amongst them.
As per Software Advice, the prime feature demanded by almost 88% of CRM users is contact management, followed by customer interactions’ tracking ability (80%) and setting up reminders and scheduling tasks (75%).
Software Example: SalesForce, SugarCRM, Microsoft Dynamics, Solve 360, Zoho CRM, BASE CRM, and Pipedrive.
This brings us to the conclusion that for an accounting firm to succeed, it is imperative that it maintains healthy and long-term relationships with its customers. The above-mentioned tools will surely help in understanding the requirements of customers and addressing their concerns timely and efficiently, leading to enhanced customer loyalty eventually.
It is a fact that the quality of the customer service can make or break a relationship with a client. However, if we talk about the prime concern which clients have, it is nothing but the completion of the accounting work in an efficient manner.
Is your accounting firm dealing with multiple customers at the same time? Is managing a plethora of accounting tasks becoming overwhelming for you? If yes, you need not worry as the expert accounting team of Cogneesol is there to help you. We have been providing accurate and timely outsourced accounting services to CPA firms worldwide since 2008.
This is the 1st part of our two-part series on “How technology strengthening relationships between accounting firms & clients.” You may come back on Monday for the 2nd part constituting more online tools’ references.
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