Practicing the "Three Os"

A Great Practices Feature - Redmond Accounting

An all-Online attitude, extreme Organization, and an Outsourced accounting service model create the perfect mix for success

Standardization has a new poster child—and her name is Laura Redmond, owner of Redmond Accounting. For those that pride themselves on being ultra organized…you may have met your match.

Laura Redmond launched her firm in 2005. And like most in the profession, her core driver was pride in owning her own business. She also admitted to reasons a bit more A-type.

“I wanted to work my own way…not simply follow along with the way things have always been done. I knew I could run a highly efficient firm. And, to be honest, I wanted to do it my way.”

And do it “her way” she did.

With a background in IT, Redmond knew her way around technology. Her vision was clear: To develop a highly efficient and standardized internal structure. With this goal in mind, she researched multiple Cloud applications and selected the best of the best.

“Today, we are totally in the Cloud and 100% paperless,” Redmond explained. “I made sure to adopt applications that integrated with one another to maximize productivity. Every solution we use is also feature-rich and flexible.”

Redmond Accounting didn’t start out in high-efficiency mode, however. This came after a few years of trial and error and working hard to solidify the vision for her firm. “It takes time to really see what needs to be done to improve operations.”

In the early years, Redmond regularly visited her clients’ offices and worked within whatever accounting system the client had in place. She quickly realized that this process would have to change.

“By accepting to work in the client’s chosen solution, I was hindering my firm’s ability to move to an online accounting service model, which was the direction I needed to go.”

After a great deal of research and testing, Redmond identified several SaaS solutions, including QuickBooks Online, Intuit Online Payroll, Bill.com, Method Integration, and Expensify. “All of our applications work together smoothly and sync with QuickBooks Online…and Method offers exceptional customization options.”

After identifying the right technologies and building a full-on Cloud infrastructure, Redmond explained that it was much easier to standardize processes firm wide.

“Technology can only do so much. You have to also put uniform processes in place; otherwise, everyone is performing work differently. That’s just not efficient.”

This is where Redmond’s heightened sense of organization came in handy. “My firm’s processes are exact, and we make sure to document everything. Our procedural guides act as a ready reference for current staff and training support for new employees.”

Even better, all guides are accessed online. Built in navigation menus allow staff to locate reference information quickly, instead of flipping pages to the right chapter.

“Using Google Sites, we can embed links directly to the particular documentation for any given task…right on the [workflow management] screen that assigns project tasks to staff.”

Redmond shared that the firm has developed 25 detailed process guides to date that outline workflow, management, and client procedures. She also made sure to remark, “That’s twenty-five and counting!”

Her drive to build a highly efficient and sustainable firm was also inspired early on by reading The E-Myth Accountant – Why Most Accounting Practices Don’t Work and What to Do About It. “I loved this book! I dog-eared several pages and underlined a lot of the content because there were so many great tips and relevant action items. It truly inspired me to do things the right way,” Redmond stated.

Laura Redmond’s practice is best described as a full-service firm offering outsourced accounting to service-based businesses. Operating on an online platform, she can serve all clients conveniently while providing real-time support.

“We become our clients’ external accounting department, handling all aspects of accounting for them. With everything in the Cloud, we can offer full support from the comfort of our offices,” Redmond stated.

What’s Good for the Goose…

After a few years of supporting clients on multiple accounting systems, Redmond realized that things could be done much more efficiently.

“We would go to the client’s office and work within whatever accounting system they had in place. That meant we had to master a variety of solutions.”

Realizing the efficiency gains within her own office, Redmond knew she needed to apply the same model to her clients. It made sense to create a client solution set using the same applications she and her staff had mastered.

“We offer a defined technology solution for our clients, which includes QuickBooks Online, Intuit Online Payroll, Bill.com, Method Integration, and Expensify. Based on need, clients can adopt the full set or select individual solutions. Because we use all of these applications in the firm, we can easily support clients with implementation. We also know clients will be highly productive because the system is streamlined.”

By taking control of the solutions clients use, it also put the firm in complete control of accounting work. With 24/7 online availability, Redmond and her staff can access a client’s data to correct errors at any time and control the flow of work.

“If the accounting firm isn’t in control of their clients’ accounting…that spells trouble,” stated Redmond.

Redmond also knew that it was important for her and her staff to become solution experts. “Once everyone is up and running on a standardized system, it’s easy to adopt uniform processes. It’s also easy to help clients with issues because they are using the same applications.”

A defined process also put the firm in control of pricing. When operations are streamlined, efficiency goes through the roof. And when that happens, it’s easier to create a pricing model that is based on the value of the service, not the billable hours.

“We implemented a value pricing model last year. Built into our fee is the cost of licensing the software, so clients are insulated from the added cost,” Redmond explained. “Not having to explain extra fees always makes it easier to sell.”

No Resting on Laurels

Redmond is proud of the progress she has made since launching her firm in 2005, but she’s not resting on her laurels. “I’m constantly evaluating my firm and looking for ways to improve operations and our services.”

To date, Laura Redmond has been able to eliminate onsite client visits by transitioning to a Cloud platform. This enables her and her staff to provide exceptionally convenient service to clients across the board. She also developed a standard solution set for clients, which means everyone is working the same way. And finally, a value pricing model simplifies client fees.

An all-online (all-the-time) attitude, organized procedures, and an outsourced accounting model enable Redmond Accounting to operate at “well-oiled-machine” status. By applying the three O’s, Redmond Accounting joins the ranks of our Great Practices.

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Stats at a Glance

  • Redmond Accounting
  • Year founded: 2005
  • Total employees: 3 F/T,
    2 P/T
  • Home base: Menlo Park, CA; second location in Cleveland, Ohio
  • Firm description: Full-service outsourced accounting firm with a focus on service businesses
  • Technology of Choice: QuickBooks Online, Bill.com, Method Integration, Intuit Online Payroll, Google Apps, Expensify

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Kristy Short, Ed.D, is partner and Chief Marketing Officer in RootWorks LLC (RootWorks.com) and president of rwc360, LLC (rwc360.com)—firms dedicated to providing practice management education, branding, marketing, and public relations services to the accounting profession. She is also a professor of English and marketing. Reach her at kristy.short@cpapracticeadvisor.com.

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