While everyone’s work process will be unique, that doesn’t mean that an organization shouldn’t have a well-organized workflow—especially if you are a new accounting practice. And having one workflow is good but having a specific workflow for a myriad of situations is even better. For example, an annual fiscal audit workflow will be much different from one for a new client. Still, there are a few simple steps that should be added to any accounting workflow to ensure that they achieve optimal efficacy.

A new accounting practice can help adapt their workflow by gathering only what they need from the get-go, staying organized with accounting workflow software, keeping communication open, and delivering on time. In addition, being pickier with clients and tracking all work can be chief in attaining optimal efficiency.

Working through a new workflow can be intimidating, especially if you are new to accounting itself. However—with a little bit of knowledge garnered from below—any new accounting firm can put steps in place to handle their projects like pros.

Be Choosey with Clients

The first step towards simplifying your workflow may be weeding out some of the more particular or sub-par clients. This isn’t to say that clients that will require a high level of care and customized services aren’t worthwhile. (They absolutely can be.) Still, having clients that fit what you already specialize in is better still. This advantage is because having expertise in an area your clients need help with means that you won’t need to go and invent a new workflow for each new project or client.

While this may seem trivial, the time saved by being pickier over what clients a firm chooses to take on can be a huge timesaver in the long run. Just think of each preliminary informational meeting as a chance to get to know a client and to try to ascertain if what they require is reasonable for what they’re willing to pay or if they might end up being a bigger pain in the neck than they are worth. And if you are in desperate need of work, obviously, there is no need to be as particular when choosing clients.

Not sure how to pick clients? Ask the manager of a firm you admire how they go about selecting clients. Such informal meetings can be a great way to meet others in the industry and gain knowledge.

Stay Organized

Good organization is key. Some projects can have thousands of data points, far too many to keep track of offhand. Without a sound system in place, an accountant’s work can quickly devolve into chaos. Regarding file organization, good accounting workflow software can be a godsend. This sentiment is largely true because accounting workflow software can help expedite things while making sure everything is done per procedure.

Quality accounting workflow software can have other valuable features as well. For example, the ordinarily time-consuming task of client data retrieval and entry can now largely be automated (with the right software). The number of man hours that automating this task alone can save is enormous.

Gather What You Need

You need to gather the project’s required data at this point in the workflow. Communicate with the client so that you are sure what the parameters and key metrics are beforehand. (Failing to do so can lead to later waste of time.)

Keep Communication Open

Always double-check even if you know exactly what a client wants. When it comes to managing client relationships, communication is vital. Being overly communicative can be a problem, though it is one that typically introverted accountants rarely are accused of. In general, when communicating with clients, be sure to set clear expectations and deadlines.

Also, be sure to let clients know what you will need from them. Nothing is more embarrassing than explaining to a client that you couldn’t complete a component on time due to a lack of forthcomingness on their part. (You might think the client would be embarrassed in this situation. However, that is rarely the case.)

Track Everything

Especially when it comes to hours of work that will be billed back to a client, be sure to track everything. This tracking is another area where accounting workflow software can greatly help automate an otherwise tedious process. Why be so fastidious with your tracking? In short, completing the proof of work isn’t just valuable externally to show clients but also for internal purposes. In the latter circumstance, such data can be used to improve best practices or help prevent fraud. 

Always Stick to Deadline

The number one deliverable that clients will never forget is if you completed the project as promised when you promised it would be done by. In a word, deadlines are sacrosanct. This truth is why having a good workflow is so crucial. Without an established procedure, estimating deadlines and project completion is a near Sisyphean task. However, with good software, as mentioned above, the somewhat arduous task of managing an entire team of accountants becomes slightly more manageable.

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