Although you may not be able to start all over again, here are 10 things that will help you in the new world of Internet, mobile, and collaborative client accounting.
1. Go Paperless and get your clients paperless.
My fellow columnist, Randy Johnston and Dr. Bob Spencer run a web site called www.totallypaperless.com that is filled with education and recommendations for taking your firm and your clients to a paperless environment.
2. Use online meetings with clients including recording client consulting sessions. GoToMeeting.com, Google+ Hangouts.
Online meetings will dramatically enhance the client/accountant relationship. If you’re not doing them yet, make it a priority to begin meeting with your clients using these technologies.
3. Get your clients’ QuickBooks hosted, or convert them to an online accounting program such as QuickBooks Online, Xero, Wave Accounting or Intacct.
The key is to get the client’s data centralized in a secure cloud-based data center, where both accountant and client can have anytime/anywhere access to the same data. And storing client data in the cloud is paradoxically MUCH SAFER than storing in your client’s servers and desktops. That may raise the hairs on the back of your neck at first, but if you choose a reputable cloud provider, you can increase the security of client data.
4. Use Google Docs for collaborative document creation with clients and colleagues.
Whenever you have to collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, or presentations, GoogleDocs provides a free cloud-based system that allows you to securely share documents and collaboratively edit their contents.
5. Using Dropbox, Box.com, Skydrive, Sharefile, or Google Drive to share files with colleagues and clients.
For secure transfer of documents between multiple computers, or between colleagues, these tools provide incredible value. Stop attaching documents to emails, and start using one of these sharing services.
6. Use OneNote or Evernote to organize all of those bits of important information that you need to remember.
OneNote, which is included with Microsoft Office provides an electronic notebook that can be shared among all users within your network. You can use it with your on-premises windows servers, or use Office 365 to centralize your data in the cloud. Evernote is a similar product preferred by many users who do not “live” in the Microsoft Office world.
7. Use Bill.com to take AR, AP, and Cash Forecasting to the cloud.
Bill.com completely streamlines your AP, AR, and Cash Management processes in a secure, paperless, cloud environment. No matter what type of business you’re in, Bill.com will dramatically improve your processes, improve internal controls, and reduce costs for paying vendors and receiving payments from customers.
8. Learn what CRM and project management tools are going to help you in your practice. Method CRM, Results CRM, Zoho CRM.
CRM should be at the center of every business. Use CRM to track and nurture customer relationships.
9. Using LiveScribe to produce full reports of client meetings including audio recording of the conversations.
The LiveScribe pen is an amazing tool for recording meeting notes, including synchronizing your note pad with an audio recording of the conversations.
10. Use Dashboarding tools to develop deeper engagements with clients. QQube, Profitsee, WebKPI, Corelytics.
Dashboards are what your clients really want you to provide for them. Using any of several tools, you can create a whole new type of service for your clients. Give clients actionable intelligence from their accounting data and help them interpret the data in periodic consulting sessions.