How accounting practice management and remote teams have fundamentally changed in 2020
The way accounting practices operate has shifted fundamentally. Historically, teams worked together in the office with the occasional opportunity to work from home. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned this on its head, with the previously office-based workforce now mostly working from home.
We have seen how practices of all sizes and specialities quickly adapt their teams and processes to working from home.
So far, so good. However, it is clear that the pandemic has imposed greater pressure on clients and accountants alike, despite the breathing space afforded by the extension of some statutory deadlines.
Clients are seeking more hands-on help from their trusted advisors to keep their businesses running successfully. They need support to navigate a world no one could have envisaged, including how to access the Government’s job support scheme and, in a growing number of cases, how to calculate termination payments. They are relying on the expertise of their accountant to access these schemes and forecast a break-even future.
Of course, while some clients will be fighting to survive, some may see opportunity in servicing sectors that are booming: e.g. pharmaceuticals and healthcare, DIY, educational technology and home entertainment among them. These clients may be experiencing the very welcome challenge of managing an unexpected explosion in demand and the impact on supply. This requires an advisor to support them with cash flow advice.
Identify what’s working – and what’s not
In all this, as practices guide clients through uncertain operating conditions, it’s important to also keep their own business sustainable so that they can be there for their clients over the long term.
To maintain control and visibility as the business landscape changes, practice leaders must be able to track with ease what’s going on in their accounting practice, both internally with their teams and, perhaps more importantly, with their clients.
Accountants need to understand the health of their business as it stands right now, not weeks down the line after a time-consuming data collection exercise. Real-time access to the practice’s success indicators and performance tracking, with automated reports and alerts on exceptions for WIP, debtor days, billing, timesheets, and other important aspects is needed. Remote working is putting even more pressure on practices to manage tasks and workflows.
The right digital tools
Technology has been the bedrock of transitioning to remote working. Now technology can help accountants to maintain the necessary oversight to keep the workloads of remote teams on track.
For example, users of the CCH Central suite are able to define whether a process is chargeable, such as preparing a set of client accounts, or practice accounts when taking on a new client. Tasks can be intelligently assigned to users in the practice, with every employee being equipped with a dynamic, prioritised to-do list. Viewing a central store of information, partners and managers can see at a glance what is happening in their respective practice. Business insight is not scattered across multiple spreadsheets.
Having the right digital tools is paramount if practices are to meet client deadlines, prevent overrun, and maintain tight credit control. In adopting these tools, you safeguard the profitability and efficiency of your business. They also help to maintain high standards when employees are working remotely, by monitoring workflows and enforcing practice procedures.
Without this knowledge – and support from the right technology partner – practice leaders may be blissfully unaware of what’s happening right under their noses. They cannot track performance, plan effectively and identify opportunities to create new revenue streams.
Without a real-time flow of information from every corner of their practice, they cannot recognise when to divest their practice of clients and lines of business that are costing more to service than they bring in. The clients that require the most work are not necessarily the most profitable.
Find out more about the tools available to help you manage your clients and your practice with ease.