There are a million reasons to create and implement standardized bookkeeping workflows.
The reasons listed below are meant to provide a brief overview of some of the benefits accounting and bookkeeping firms experience when they standardize their workflows. (If you’re already convinced that you need a workflow, but are struggling to get started, check out 12 Ways to Kickstart Your Bookkeeping Workflow.)
Workflows can have a huge impact on your client relationships and your firm’s success – here’s how!
1. Improve work consistency, quality & efficiency
As an accounting or bookkeeping professional, you can relate to the fact that we sometimes experience a bit of a Groundhog Day effect in our day-to-day activities. We’re constantly performing the same steps, procedures, and activities, day in, day out. Month in, month out. Year in, year out…
Workflows create a logical, efficient order of events to complete these tasks consistently from client-to-client, niche-to-niche, team member-to-team member. As a result, both the workflow and the quality of work will be more consistent.
Similarly, standardizing what is done when and by whom will enable you/your team to complete work more efficiently. The tasks, to-dos, and responsibilities are laid out in a template. No waffling, wavering, or overthinking about what needs to be done next (or what to start with).
2. Improve communication consistency, quality & efficiency
Never create recurring communications twice. Ever.
Rather than searching for an original email/notification to use again, or recreating it (again), standardizing your workflows will allow you to have them at the ready in your workflow app (e.g., 17Hats, Aero Workflow, Karbon, etc.).
Building all necessary communications right into the workflow will not only make sending them faster and more efficient, it will also help to control the quality of communications (i.e., you can ensure there are no spelling errors or misinformation).
Moreover, it’s crucial that messaging remains consistent with your company’s core values and marketing. Communication templates will also ensure there’s alignment with your firm’s brand voice.
3. Create transparency, accountability & collaboration
Workflows set the stage for who’s to do what, when they need to do it, and how they need to do it. Expectations are clear and pre-determined. Timelines and tasks are obvious. As a result, partners, managers, team members, and clients can all be held accountable for their required actions.
Improved accountability will not only help to increase efficiency, quality, and consistency (as outlined above) – it will also increase motivation. If your client knows exactly what they need to provide in order for you to get your work done, they’ll be more motivated to play their part.
In turn, consistent communication, transparency, and accountability created by workflows encourage and streamline collaboration between partners, managers, team members, and clients.
4. Maintain compliance
For clients, it’s not an issue, ‘til it’s an issue. For accounting professionals, compliance is always an issue.
Workflows build compliance into your bookkeeping procedures. By standardizing who does what and when, you’ll be able to mitigate risk while helping to ensure your clients adhere to applicable industry regulations.
5. Increase contact efficiency
Workflows rely on a solid CRM (Customer Relationship Management tool) – i.e., one that has complete contact information, including emails, phone numbers, addresses, websites, full company names, and pertinent client information such as tax filing and details, business numbers, important quirks, and so on.
One of the best ways to kickstart your bookkeeping workflow is to clean up your contacts in your CRM. A clean contact database will not only make it efficient to access key client data, it will also help you realize the benefits of workflows.
6. Build a saleable practice
Workflows create standard operating procedures (SOPs) and best practices. SOPs create consistency, efficiency, transparency, and accountability.
Consistency, efficiency, transparency, and accountability create a business that is viable for sale – a business that will command a higher value, even for solo accounting professionals (maybe especially for solo accounting professionals).
7. Create a continuation of service
Is interruption of service a key concern for you? It should be. In fact, all invested parties should be concerned – partners, managers, team members, clients... the whole lot.
What’s your service protocol in the case of illness, family crises, lawsuits, or location/connectivity issues? Can someone pick up the ball and run with it, right away?
Detailed, documented, and continually updated workflows with current notes (and supported by a clean CRM) provide a platform that will help to minimize disruptions.
8. Easily kickstart engagements based on the workflow you will be using
Your tasks, to-dos, and responsibilities are laid out in your template workflows. You can also have engagement workflows – i.e., your contracts – created on the basis of your bookkeeping and accounting workflows.
How awesome would that be? Imagine how much easier it will be to reign in scope creep on new engagements!
Speaking of scope creep...
9. No! More! Scope! Creep!
If it’s not in the workflow, it ain’t getting done. No! More! Scope! Creep!
Kickstart your workflow
You may be well aware of some of the benefits listed above, but I hope this list inspires some motivation to create your workflows and clean up your CRM. Speaking from experience, implementing a standardized workflow and working to optimize it on a regular basis will massively improve operations at your firm.
Kickstart your bookkeeping workflow and watch your practice flourish!
Learn how to increase efficiency in your weekly reconciliation and month-end close workflow. Download our free checklist here!
About the Author
Kellie is a relentless organizer and believes cloud financial technology is key to organization. An ardent devotee of QuickBooks Online, Kellie is passionate about introducing QBO and its app partner programs to accountants and their clients. She now spends much of her day educating accounting firms and SMBs, but loves keeping her head firmly in her bookkeeping clients’ day to day accounting needs as well. Kellie is a proud member of the Intuit Trainer Writer Network, and is a Certified Professional Bookkeeper, QBO Advanced Pro Certified, a Hubdoc Advanced Partner, WagePoint Certified, Plooto Certified, Xero Certified, and a 17Hats Partner. (Clearly Kellie is “certifiable”!)Follow on Twitter More Content by Kellie Parks