The Critical Tools You Need to Increase Your Accounting Firm’s Efficiency

Gusto Editors

Are you using the best tools for improving your accounting firm’s workflow? 

As an accountant, it’s critical that you use every tool at your disposal to increase your efficiency, especially during tax season. Many different software solutions can help you enhance productivity and improve your internal communication. 

Fortunately, Gusto, along with our partners at CPA Academy, delivered two edifying webinars discussing critical tools you can incorporate into your accounting firm. We released the first is titled “10 New Year’s Tech Resolutions You’ll Actually Keep,” and you can watch the full webinar here. Our other webinar is titled “Top 10 Office 365 Features You Should Be Using But Are Not,” which you can watch here. Dan Moshe, CEO of Tech Guru, hosted both webinars. 

In this article, we’ll share valuable insights from Dan’s presentations, including different tools you should integrate to improve your communication and efficiency, why you should use project planning software, and the importance of implementing cybersecurity measures at your firm.  

Integrating business tools to improve your internal communication and workflow

When striving to improve your firm’s efficiency, you can integrate innovative productivity tools to enhance your workflow. One simple but effective tool you can utilize is handwriting on electronic documents. Dan specifically discussed Office 365’s handwriting tools, but other companies also incorporate these tools into their programs. By using handwriting tools, you can improve your collaboration capabilities with your team:

“We’ve all got these fancy tablet computers nowadays, [and] now Microsoft is finally catching up with allowing us to annotate and put our notes into our documents. … It helps you to annotate documents quickly.”

Dan Moshe

You can annotate your documents, add helpful insights, and communicate complex ideas as you work with your team.  

“Writing is human, and it allows you to kind of engage in a different way with your computer [by] annotating documents [and] creating handwritten diagram[s]. Sometimes there’s just no better way to communicate an idea than doing it in handwriting. … You can eventually save time by just doing something in handwriting that otherwise would be complicated and hard [to communicate], especially with numbers and complex ideas that you want to be able to get across.”

Dan Moshe

Handwriting tools can improve your ability to work with your team as you collaborate on different documents. You can articulate nuances and complexities that you wouldn’t be able to communicate by using standard inputs in the software. You can also add to existing documents and presentations in real-time to communicate ideas. For example, if you’re presenting a PowerPoint presentation and you need to add information to a slide, you can use the handwriting tool to express complex ideas in real-time. 

Female colleague speaking with colleagues about tools to support firms efficiency

In addition to using handwriting tools to improve your productivity and communication, you can also use electronic notes. Dan covered the capabilities of Microsoft OneNote, but many different softwares include note-taking capabilities. Using note software is an excellent way to become more organized. You can share notes with others on your team to improve your collaboration abilities: 

“If you have an admin or other individuals on a team that you collaborate … with, you can take notes from a client meeting and share that specific note with other individuals on your team so they can see them in real-time. … You can access those notes from … all of your devices.”

Dan Moshe

When you use note software, you can share notes with your team to collaborate and later access your notes from the convenience of any internet-capable device. 

Your firm can increase productivity by incorporating simple yet effective instruments. Use handwriting and note-taking tools to enhance your ability to communicate ideas, stay organized, and collaborate with your team. 

The importance of using project planning software

In addition to utilizing handwriting and note-taking tools, you can also incorporate project management software into your firm to improve productivity. There are many different project planning softwares your firm can choose from, but Dan specifically discussed the benefits of using the Planner in Office 365: 

“You can set up a working group that’s got a team channel going, and then you can have a team planner set up where you can visualize tasks, … create groups when a plan is created, and then visualize the progress of those projects.”

Dan Moshe

Although Dan specifically described Office 365 features, many project management software solutions can improve your firm’s workflow. When you use management software, you can assign tasks and create deadlines so everyone working on your team knows when their work is due. Additionally, incorporating planning software also simplifies the process of working with remote employees: 

“Finding people to do this type of work is getting harder and harder, [and] the talent pool isn’t growing big enough to meet the needs, … so sometimes you [have] to get creative and look outside of your typical geographic radius to people who might be able to work remotely. … [Project planning software] enables you to bring somebody remotely into your virtual office environment and understand in a visual way where they’re at with their tasks.”

Dan Moshe
Team sitting around reviewing critical tools needed to increase efficiency

Project planning software is also excellent for working with remote accountants. Remote workers can stay up to date with their tasks and deadlines without having to communicate directly with other firm members. Additionally, utilizing project planning software can be highly beneficial for your firm during busier seasons. If your firm hires temporary staff during tax season, you can easily organize their assignments with project planning software: 

“It allows you to assign tasks, due dates, [and] set reminders to make sure that everything gets through at exactly the right time, that due dates are not getting missed, … allowing you to capture new revenue and growth opportunities. … [If] you’re adding staff during the busy season, … [project planning software makes it] really easy to onboard those staff [because you’re] making it crystal clear who needs to do what and by when.”

Dan Moshe

Project planning software takes the guesswork out of when an assignment needs to be completed and by whom. Incorporating management software into your workflow will help your firm increase its productivity while also improving your ability to work with remote and temporary staff

Implementing cybersecurity measures for your accounting firm 

In addition to incorporating tools for increasing productivity in your firm, you should also consider implementing critical cybersecurity measures to keep your information safe. Dan noted that even strong passwords can leave your accounts vulnerable to hackers: 

“The fact is, even strong passwords are getting hacked and cracked because hackers nowadays are using bots and artificial intelligence to go through and find accounts that have weak passwords that can be compromised.”

Dan Moshe

To ensure the security of your accounts, consider implementing multi-factor authentication in your sign-in process. With multi-factor authentication, you’ll need to present multiple pieces of evidence that the account is yours before you can sign in. Although securing all of your accounts is essential, securing your email is especially critical:  

“Start with your email because that is the core … of your online existence. Everything … runs through email, so that’s a great place to start. It houses some of the most important … [and] valuable information, such as all of your contacts [and] all of your history. … Email can be used to really learn a lot about you, so you definitely don’t want [your] email to get compromised.”

Dan Moshe

A step you can take to improve your productivity while maintaining cybersecurity is through using a password manager. Using the same password across different sites can compromise your online safety. As an accountant, you’ve probably created numerous accounts across different websites to manage your workload and clients, so you need to incorporate a system for accessing those many different passwords. Fortunately, quality password management applications can store your passwords so you can retrieve them quickly and easily. 

It’s crucial for your firm to implement cybersecurity measures. If your firm fails to utilize multi-factor authentication and a password manager, your information and your clients’ information could become compromised. 

Learn more about improving your accounting firm’s efficiency

There are many different tools available for improving productivity within your firm. Utilizing handwriting tools and electronic notes can enhance your ability to communicate ideas and collaborate with your team. Also, project planning software can simplify your organization’s tasks and deadlines. In addition to efficiency tools, you should incorporate essential cybersecurity measures, such as multi-factor authentication and password management software. 

If you’re ready to learn about more tools for improving your accounting firm, read Part One and Part Three of this webinar article series. You can also watch Dan Moshe’s presentation on Office 365 here as well as his presentation on tech resolutions on Vimeo.

Are you looking for more ways to improve your firm’s efficiency? Consider partnering with Gusto. Gusto offers accounting firms invaluable software integration tools that automate parts of their workflow. We also automatically file and send payroll taxes for your small business clients who have fewer than 100 employees. See all the benefits that Gusto has to offer by visiting our Gusto for accountants page!

Gusto Editors Gusto Editors, contributing authors on Gusto, provide actionable tips and expert advice on HR and payroll for successful business management.
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