If you work with us, you know we’re a tech heavy firm. Actually, we’re a tech only firm.
We don’t believe in paper based workflows. As Kevin Smith, an Accounting Wizard at our firm says “people are inefficient, I’d rather manage technology.”
We seek out the best technology for every aspect of our business. From sales to emails, phone calls, video calls, tax prep, tax strategy, accounting work, you name it. We use over 40 applications in what we refer to as our “app stack.” Most people familiar with the tech world are familiar with what an app stack is, but I’d bet few CPAs have even heard the term!
Up until recently, we didn’t have a great way to track what we needed to deliver to clients and by when. That’s pretty scary for a CPA firm who’s most closely held value is to “provide clients with a WOW experience.” How can we provide clients with a WOW experience if we can’t clearly and easily see what needs to be delivered?
Of course, we were all tracking what needed to be delivered per client. However, we realized our team was tracking everything differently, and mainly through digital notes and sticky notes.
This led to cumbersome follow-up internally and externally. It led to missed deadlines, failing to deliver on our promises, and miscommunication. Worst of all, I felt our non-system didn’t make us any more competitive than most other CPA firms out there who are doing all of the same things.
If you know me, you know I like to tinker with and test everything. From pricing to processes, I seek perfection. One of my business coaches advised that I cease seeking perfection with processes as they will never be perfect. I strongly disagreed, though I understood the point – don’t waste your time on things you can only very marginally improve.
But our deliverable management system, or lack-there-of, needed tons of improvement. So I hired a developer to come in and revamp our CPA system’s Podio platform.
Now, I think I’m pretty damn good with automating workflows on Podio. I weirdly find joy in writing “if this then that” functions.
When our Podio developer, Gary, started his work, I clearly realized an important business lesson: don’t do everything yourself, because there’s likely folks out there who are way better than you (looking at all of the Turbo Tax real estate investors out there!).
Gary’s coding was mind blowing. Maybe it’s because I’ve never seen code developed from scratch, or maybe it’s because it didn’t resemble an inkling of my rookie “if this then that” functions. But watching him write a completely foreign language into our back-end CPA system was exciting.
With Gary’s help, we were able to develop a completely functional deliverable management system. One that assigns deliverables, per our signed engagement letters, with clients to our team automatically on a round robin basis. The system also assigns a date and then prioritizes the deliverables based on the dates (high priority for those coming due, low priority for those with due dates six months out). Further, it will ping our team members when a deliverable is coming due and needs to be acted on.
The deliverable management system integrates with all of our other workflows too. Whenever an action is taken on a deliverable, follow-on actions occur elsewhere in Podio.
Everything is synchronized and ensures nothing gets missed. I truly love it.
We implemented the new deliverable management system at the beginning of December, so we still have a bit of a learning curve to get over. But this is the future for our firm. This is how we’ll consistently deliver that WOW experience I’m constantly pursuing.
Side benefit – we now have a CPA system that manages workflow. Most CPA firms require a manager (a person) to manage the team and the workflows.
See For Yourself
Below, I’ve pasted a screen shot of our deliverable management system in Podio. I have redacted deliverable numbers and client names.
This system is great because we can now review on a weekly basis to understand what actions need to be completed to meet upcoming deliverables. Because team members are assigned to deliverables (reference the right hand column), there is no confusion around who should be doing what.
Additionally, this system allows me to see whether or not we delivered “on time” per our internal calendar. There are three date columns in this screenshot – the one on the far left is the Due Date, the one in the middle is the Create Date, and the blank column is the Completed Date. This will allow me to track how fast things get done and reward team members for their timeliness in completing their work.
We’re excited to get this deliverable management system fully operational. It will enhance our ability to provide a WOW client experience, of which we are in endless pursuit of.
Over the coming months, I or a member of our team will be writing about the technology we are using. I think it’s important for our clients to understand how much work behind the scenes goes into servicing your accounts.