Modernizing your accounting firm can be a bit overwhelming. This is especially true if you have been in the industry for a while using traditional tools. There are many steps in this process. To modernize your firm, you must invest in different kinds of software, transition to the cloud, go paperless, and more.
The switch is definitely worth it. Not only will your staff become more efficient, but your clients will appreciate the improved, convenient experience. In this article, I will detail what is practice management software and how can it help.
What is practice management software?
Accounting practice management software helps improve organization, communication, and efficiency in firms of any size. It enables accountants to easily track time and billing, create projects using detailed templates, delegate and communicate with team members, and ensure that projects are completed on time.
Practice management software also enables team and client collaboration, keeps client information up-to-date, and stores important documents and files to share with others quickly.
How can it help?
Now that you have the answer to what is practice management software, how can it help you? The biggest overarching benefit of practice management software is that it consolidates several disparate functions. While you might use many different manual processes and software solutions to run your practice, now you can distill that down into one or two. This is all thanks to accounting practice management software.
When looking to make the switch from traditional desktop software, go for a cloud-based, all-in-one-solution that offers the following:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a software for managing client relationships. It helps you oversee and maintain information, including client data and interactions, leads, contracts, and more.
- Document Management enables the secure storage of all documents in one place online. All team members can then access any authorized file with the click of a button.
- Project Management allows you to create collaborative task lists online that keep everyone on the same page and is accessible to all teammates, at all times. This type of software also enables you to see overall firm workflows, track progress, and ensure projects don’t fall behind. Accounting professionals can then identify opportunities to improve processes and meet important deadlines for their business and clients.
- Billing and Invoicing with software is much more efficient. This software will even help you get paid quicker by making it easier for clients to pay online versus mail or in person. A study of more than half a million invoices showed that people on average take 11 days to pay online bills and 29 days to pay bills sent by other methods. The idea is that if you make it easy for clients to pay you, they will pay you faster.
- Time Tracking capabilities make it simple to track billable work with the click of a button. It also can provide a quick, holistic look into the time spent on work for a given client. With practice management software, the time spent on each client can also be auto-populated into that client’s invoice. This makes the process of getting paid even easier.
- Reporting capabilities enable accountants to manage firm resources to increase profitability, whether that be through tracking staff utilization, average time spent on projects, revenue earned per staff member or project, and more.
- Predictive analytics which can include financial forecasting may be an add on service to practice management software. These tools can provide accurate projections on capacity and availability of staffing, resourcing, and much more. They can also be leveraged to help forecast revenue and other business metrics.
Why is the cloud so important?
Cloud-based software is really the way to go when looking at implementing a practice management solution in your firm. There are several reasons that I will outline below.
One simple reason is that cloud-based software automatically updates with improvements, enhancements, and new features on a regular basis without requiring action from the user. The cloud also enables access to information from any device at any time.
Below are additional benefits:
- Increased computer storage capacity: The cloud provides access to an enormous storage capacity via the internet instead of using up the storage on your device or in your filing cabinets. This also enables you to keep files for a long time without having to worry about hitting the storage limits of a hardware device.
- High-level security: With strict security measures, monitoring and trained experts detecting and reacting to suspicious activity, the cloud is a very secure option for storing information.
- Increased efficiency: The cloud promotes collaboration by opening up a document or folder to the whole team so that everyone can access and work on the same documents at the same time.
- Cost-efficient: Cloud-based software is also cost-efficient as it very often requires no storage costs and enables reduced spending on resources—like paper and printer ink —and pricing models are typically on a monthly or annual basis.
As a bonus, moving to practice management software can make your firm paperless—or very close to it.
Additional Practice Management Tools
While it is ideal to limit the number of tools you use, there are a number of them available to complement a practice management software or to use while you are transitioning to one.
My recommendations include Google Sheets for easily shared spreadsheets, Zoom or Google Meet for video calls with clients, and Slack for collaborating with colleagues. But many other great options are available and are usually pretty easy to implement.
I hope this article answering the question of what is practice management software and how is it used is helpful. For more articles like this be sure to check out the Business Tech and Small Business section of this blog.