How to Make Next Tax Season More Efficient
Tax season is the most important time for accountants and CPA firms. It is the busiest, but also the most profitable, time of the year, and it’s important that you’re getting the most from it.
For most accountants, tax season can feel overwhelming. With such a direct tie to a massive spike in revenue, there’s a lot of stress around tax season, meeting with more clients, and trying to make every minute of your day count.
Rather than worrying about your processes weeks or even days before tax season, now is the best time to look at your processes and see what can be improved. By taking the time now to set up standardized, efficient solutions, you can make your next tax season more profitable and less stressful.
Implementing a better practice management solution is the most impactful way to improve your tax season. Here’s your chance to learn more about practice management solutions and how to know if you have the right solution in place.
What Is a Practice Management Solution?
A practice management solution handles all aspects of your practice by providing a single software solution that lets you bill, track time, collect payments, manage workflow, and maintain client information.
What Should I Look For in a Practice Management Solution?
Finding the right practice management solution is mainly based on your firm’s unique needs and clients. What may work for a large firm with thousands of clients might not be the best solution for a smaller firm just starting.
To help out the process, take the time to identify your firm’s current challenges. Ask yourself questions like -
- How many programs are needed to work with clients throughout their entire experience with our firm? (This should start as early as scheduling an appointment to make the final payment.)
- What process takes the most time to complete besides working with our clients?
- For each accountant, how many of their hours are tied to billable hours, and how many are tied to bureaucracy and paperwork?
- Are there any accountants needing to be corrected, underbooked, or double-booked? What is causing that issue?
- If a member of your team became ill during tax season, could another member cover for them? Do you have a standardized place for client notes and history?
By looking through your existing processes and seeing what can be improved, you have a better chance of finding the practice management solution that works best for you.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to make an accurate assessment because you don’t know it’s wrong. If you’ve always dealt with slow, unresponsive, or clunky solutions, you don’t know that there’s something better out there. To help you out, here are X features you should look for in your firm’s practice management solution to help your practice make the most out of tax season.
A customer relationship manager (CRM) helps you track and manage your client relationship. It is the foundation for good customer service and lasting business relationships
As your client list grows, it can take time to remember the individual details about each client. Keeping client notes in an easy-to-access location gives you quick access to your entire history with them. You can quickly see past conversations you’ve had, any concerns that need to be addressed, or even their future goals that you can follow up on.
There is no reason ever to be overbooked or double booked. Your practice management solution should provide complete visibility of your schedule and resources to ensure that your team is doing productive work without being overwhelmed or burnt out.
3. Workflow Tracking and Automation
A practice management solution should prevent any task from falling through the cracks. Every project and every task should be easily sorted and tracked to ensure everything is remembered and noticed.
Workflow optimization may also include standardization and even automation. Standardization creates a checklist for each team member to follow that helps ensure that every client gets the same quality of work, no matter who they are working with. Automation is another beneficial tool that helps reduce the time wasted on repetitive manual data entry while significantly reducing errors.
4. Billing and Payments
It’s your money, and you need it now!
Your new practice management solution should produce accurate and easy-to-understand billing invoices and an easy-to-use payment portal. This will help your clients understand that they need to pay for the work you’ve done and make it easier for them to make their outstanding payments.
5. Time and Expense
Time is valuable, and your clients should be paying for the work you do. A time and expense entry feature from a practice management solution empowers you to track exactly how long each client takes accurately. This helps you accurately bill your clients for the work done, ensuring you get paid what you are worth.
Weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual reports are necessary to understand your firm's state.
Without reports, your firm is left to wander in the dark, not knowing what is or isn’t working. When you’re left in a vacuum of information, making any decisions is impossible because you don’t know what is happening.
Reports are necessary to make informed business decisions, but they shouldn’t take hours out of your schedule to generate or understand. Ideally, your practice management solution should provide accurate reports that provide the information you need whenever you need them. This gives you a better view of your firm and lets you make better business decisions.
Your practice management solution should grow with you. It’s great to find a solution that meets exactly what you need right now, but in a year or five, will it still support your firm as you pick up more clients?
Some aspects and features you should look for are the limits of the software. This is an overly simplified example, but if you’re looking at a solution that can only support a hundred clients and already have a hundred clients, the solution will only hinder your growth.
Another part of scalability you should consider is the time spent performing specific tasks. Taking 15 minutes to generate a report for a single client doesn’t sound too unmanageable bad when you only have a handful of clients, but as your firm grows and your client list gets longer, those minutes quickly add up. For example, for 100 clients, going from 15 to 10 minutes on one process saves you an entire work day (8.4 hours). Any amount of automation or optimization from the practice management solution can lead to significant savings in the long run as your firm continues to grow.