Grimbleby Coleman CPAs
“Practice Engine wants to work with you and improve your overall process.”
Caitlin Kleinschmidt, Administrative Coordinator
• IRIS Practice Engine
Grimbleby Coleman CPAs, established in 1973, is an accounting and business advisory firm with headquarters in Modesto, California. Working within several niches, one of their largest focuses is the agriculture industry and working with local farmers in the Central Valley region. Grimbleby Coleman’s breadth of services includes audit, tax and even core accounting services.
Grimbleby Coleman has been an IRIS Practice Engine customer for over seven years. During that time, the firm has repeatedly been a “beta” test firm or early adopter of new Practice Engine enhancements and build releases. Most recently, they were the first firm to upgrade to the 9.7 release which included a rewrite of the billing process.
Caitlin Kleinschmidt, administrative coordinator and nearly 10-year veteran at Grimbleby Coleman explains, “Client service is one of our biggest focuses as a firm. We want to make it easy for our clients to understand the process.” A large part of that client service involves keeping up with the latest technology.
In order to leverage the most technology, Grimbleby Coleman often agrees to be an early adopter of Practice Engine upgrades – meaning countless extra hours of testing, finding glitches, and working with the Practice Engine team to ensure the latest upgrades are working properly.
“Personally, I know my cohort, Evelyn Sexton, and I like to pick things apart; it’s fun,” Caitlin explains. “Sometimes it can be tough, or things don’t go the way you want. But working with Practice Engine, they grow with you and they are so invested in figuring out the best way to do things.
“We’ve always been a very forward-thinking firm. When I go to events it’s interesting to hear other firms talk about their new experiences in using technology programs, some of which we’ve been on for years. Because we are so client-focused, we want to have the best tools for our clients as well as ourselves. So, we leverage as much technology as we can. And Practice Engine has grown along with us.”
The passion for continual improvement and utilizing the best technology at Grimbleby Coleman comes from the top.
“Last year we attended the Practice Engine User Conference and after learning what was happening next with the technology [in the 9.7 release], our Managing Partner pushed us to keep moving forward with the upgrades,” Caitlin explains.
Although Grimbleby Coleman didn’t necessarily plan on being the first firm to move to 9.7, due to timing and COVID-19, they ended up being the first – which wasn’t a new experience for them. Grimbleby Coleman had previously been a beta tester for the Scheduling app within Practice Engine and understood the testing process. Caitlin explains, “We like to grow with Practice Engine.”
The 9.7 release featured a rewrite of the billing process, which meant a lot of change. Caitlin admits, “It was a bit harder of an upgrade, but in all honesty, a lot smoother than other upgrades we’ve had before. Although there were unforeseen circumstances in which we found broken features, assistance was provided quickly from Practice Engine. Weekly meetings were scheduled to go over what was and wasn’t working and the level of service was high.”
The Grimbleby Coleman staff was prepared for the change – along with the training resources Practice Engine supplied, Caitlin made sure to provide numerous training materials from written instructions, videos and Q&A sessions. With so many more options and the change in the billing process, she ensured that everyone was fully prepared to use the new system.
“The latest upgrade to 9.7 was a big learning curve because the billing process was so incredibly different than what was there previously,” explains Caitlin. “We did have a few little hiccups where people didn’t quite understand certain new features, but for the most part, it went pretty smoothly. Now we’re a few months into using 9.7 and I don’t hear anyone saying they don’t understand.”
The 9.7 product release added a variety of new features to the billing process, including the ability to pre-define and create a schedule of bills, automate the process to draft, confirm and email bills when specific triggers are reached, new rich text editors of the billing narratives, additional options for WIP allocations and performance improvements.
For Grimbleby Coleman specifically, the 9.7 upgrade completely streamlined their billing process.
As Caitlin describes, “Billing is much smoother now; there is a lot more customization that’s possible. Before, people would ask for certain changes and we couldn’t do it. It could get clunky and people would complain. Now, it’s more streamlined and we can do much more data analysis and customization within it.”
Now Grimbleby Coleman can select upfront what they are or are not billing, making the process faster and easier for everyone to understand in the firm.
“We set up Practice Engine Alerts that run daily when someone’s keyed bills so our partners can go in and approve them,” explains Caitlin. The 9.7 upgrade allowed for more visibility and less back-and-forth between staff wondering what job was or was not done.
“One of the main things that I really like about Practice Engine is their ability to adapt to our ever-changing industry. Practice Engine tends to be forward looking as far as improving processes, upcoming trends, and how they can implement changes within the program itself.”
Grimbleby Coleman upgraded to the 9.7 product release in 2020. The results were immediately clear.
“We close our billing three days earlier than we used to,” Caitlin explains.
With the new acquisition of Practice Engine by IRIS, Caitlin has seen an increase in customer support as well. “Because IRIS is involved, we get help SO quickly. Practice Engine now has the funds and manpower to back up everything in terms of customer support and responding to our requests quickly.”
What advice do you have for firms who might be hesitant to switch to a new practice management software?
“Don’t be afraid of change. Just because you’ve always done things the same way, doesn’t mean that’s the best way,” explains Caitlin. “Sometimes you don’t even understand how great a realization or utilization you can have until you start using these new products – you don’t realize how much waste that waiting, sitting and running back-and-forth really creates. Having everything in one nice little package is so much easier.
“Change is good. We don’t know SALY [Same As Last Year] here. One of the big pillars of Lean Six Sigma is continual improvement. I think that Practice Engine takes that to heart, just like we do.”