“Nothing is certain but death and taxes” — so the old proverb goes. However, for many accountants, the meticulous work that goes into preparing their clients’ tax returns can oftentimes feel like death. With Americans spending a whopping 6 billion hours preparing tax returns, it comes as no surprise that more taxpayers turn to the services of accountants and accounting firms. While this could mean more clients for your accounting firm, it also equates to a heavier workload for your accountants. To help you and your team, here are 3 productivity tips for CPAs this tax season to lighten and streamline your load and make you more efficient this tax season.
Productivity Tips For CPAs: Leverage Technology
According to a Harvard study, CEOs spend an average of 9.7 hours per day in the office. Additionally, they work an average of 4 hours per weekend day. This brings a CPA firm executives an average total weekly work hours to 62.5 hours. Even with the long hours, CPA administrators are barely scratching the surface in terms of accomplishing tasks that can truly impact the growth of their respective accounting firms.
Tax season brings an influx of more work. 60% of taxpayers will seek the services of accountants. An average tax return takes approximately 15 hours to complete. This number goes up if your firm’s clients are small and businesses, and even higher if you have enterprise clients.
One of the best productivity tips for CPAs is leverage the technology at hand to significantly reduce the number of hours needed for your firm to service its clients. The best productivity tips for CPAs is using the right apps include tools like Grammarly, Boomerang and Jetpack to name a few.
Technology To The Rescue
Technology can solve common tax problems for accounting firm administrators, not just in the actual preparation of the tax returns themselves, but in other areas. Implementing these tips can benefit you even beyond tax season.
Productivity Tips For CPAs #1: Beat This Busy Season With Automation
Ask yourself: What are the things you’re currently doing manually that you can automate?
As a CPA executive, you may forget the amount of work your administration team performs during tax season.
Investing on and implementing automation strategies can reduce the heightened stress your firm feels during the busy season and boost productivity for your accounting team. Additionally, the right use of technology can also foster stronger team culture.
One way to implement automation is to crowdsource ideas from your firm’s accountants and other staff members. This is exactly what CPA Mike Gordon, a CEO of an accounting firm based in Oregon does:
What is it that we are doing manually that we could be doing automated? Each year I ask our team to come up with things they want automated.
So, what are the things that your accounting firm can automate? Here are a few suggestions:
- Instead of a paper form, ask your clients to fill out a secured online form that is tied into an email management system. Any mission information will automatically trigger an email follow up sequence. Equip your employees with an app like Genius Scan and you won’t need them to be back in the office to access their documents. Boost productivity and minimize wasted time.
- Create an automated appointment-setting system to unburden your staff from managing phone calls from prospective clients.
- For clients who are on retainers, you can encourage the use of apps to electronically compile receipts and other documents.
- Learn these 20 Keyboard Shortcuts To Maximize Productivity
If your system is constantly down, or not thoroughly backing up your client information, that might be (one of the many) reasons you a need a managed IT services provider for your accounting firm.
Productivity Tips For CPAs #2: Boost Your CPA Firm’s Productivity Through Hiring The Right People
So many taxes to prepare, so few accountants.
A report from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants reveals that the “availability of skilled personnel” is the #1 problem faced by accounting firms today. It’s not just accounting firms that are having a difficult time to fill accounting post vacancies. Even established multinationals such as Johnson & Johnson are struggling. According to J&J Senior Director Stephen Rivera:
It’s very difficult to find qualified people. It might feel like the big accounting firms are taking them all.
Even the most advanced tax tips for CEOs can’t help you solve the national shortage on skilled accountants, but what technology can help you do is to help manage your time better when it comes to getting accountants on board, as well as streamline your recruitment and hiring processes. Cutting your recruitment and hiring period significantly using technology will allow you to hook accountants while they are available.
Productivity Tip For CPAs # 3: Invest In A Project Management System To Streamline Your Workflow
Isn’t ironic how things fall through the cracks during the most critical times?
Raise your hand if you’ve experienced a meltdown in your systems and processes during an extremely busy tax season. If your hand is in the air, you’re not alone.
Investing in project management technology for your firm can solve this issue. More specifically, it can address vulnerable aspects in your tax preparation workflow such as:
- Documents and data collation from clients
- Maintaining a database of clients and vendors
- Tracking of accounts
- Auditing and approval processes
- Requests for filing extensions
- Monitoring of tax laws and other regulation changes
Before You Jump The Gun On Technology
Among today’s best productivity tips for CPAs, the use of technology offers the most promising productivity hacks to ease the stress of the tax season.
However, before implementing new tools for your firm, remember that technology takes an end to end management — from procurement, user training, upkeep, and support. You have to invest in the right IT infrastructure and personnel to make sure things are running smoothly. Don’t expect your accountants to handle this on their own. If you don’t have the in-house capacity yet, partnering with a managed services provider can lower your IT costs and boost productivity from your team through these tools.