Using the Cloud to Manage Your Accounting Team

Gusto Editors

Do you have the tools to grow your accounting practice online? 

The world’s dependency on digital systems grows constantly. To keep up, accounting firms need to transition from analog to digital business strategies. Transitioning to virtual record-keeping systems and communication will grow your team’s workplace freedom and connect them to your clients more effectively. If you would like your firm to have more flexibility by transitioning to cloud-based systems, this article is for you!

Gusto partnered with CPA Academy for the webinar “Building a Virtual CPA Firm” to provide tips for making a digital transition. Led by Daniel Moshe of Tech Guru, the webinar takes a look at how technology can simplify tasks in your firm and increase its effectiveness when dealing with clients. 

Daniel is passionate about applying technology to accounting firms, specializing in providing them with innovative technology resources and guidance. 

In this article, we will look into internal collaboration tools, online project management tools, and how to increase client engagement through your application ecosystem. 

Implementing internal collaboration tools

When transitioning to the utilization of application-based software, keeping your people on the same page is critical. Many popular web applications such as Office 365 and Google Apps offer you the possibility to remotely collaborate on projects in real-time:

“You’re probably using Office 365 or Google Apps. You may not know that there is powerful, live collaboration functionality built into the applications you already have. With live collaboration on spreadsheets, gone are the days of emailing read lines back and forth. That includes [sharing] with your clients. You can share a spreadsheet live with your client. They can see changes that you make, and you can see the changes that they make in real-time.”

– Daniel Moshe

The apps you already use daily open your firm to the possibility of collaborating internally and with clients. These platforms also offer built-in security by giving you control over who sees documents and what they can do with those documents: 

“All these platforms incorporate security at a very granular level. [It only] takes a few minutes to click on the sharing and permission settings and confirm that the spreadsheet you’re sharing is only accessible by the people who you want to have access to [it].”

– Daniel Moshe
Female reviewing account team projects

In addition to collaborating on documents, internal collaboration tools give you the possibility of live messaging. Instead of waiting for email responses, these tools streamline the communication process. The result is a more efficient discussion between your team members, whether they are at the office or working remotely:

“The next internal collaboration tool is Slack. It [takes] internal conversations out of email and onto a platform designed to help teams communicate and collaborate in a modern way. … This is a very powerful tool. You can connect and chat with people when they’re on the phone, and it allows you to have specific conversations in channels that are focused on particular topics.”

– Daniel Moshe

Many internal messaging tools such as Slack provide flexibility on the devices your team uses. With virtual team communication, your team gains access to messages even when they do not have access to their work computers:

“There’s a mobile app, there’s a web version, and there’s a version you can install on your computer. It’s incredibly powerful with how you can notify particular people by customizing notifications. You can customize it so you only hear things that are relevant to you. … Slack is a powerful tool if you happen to have any remote workers. It makes it like you’re sitting next to each other [even when they’re remote].”

– Daniel Moshe

The utilization of internal collaboration and modern communication tools simplifies the order of operations within your firm. As a result, your team profits from intuitive ways to work together on projects and easily communicate with each other.

The benefits of online project management tools and workflow platforms

After establishing internal collaboration tools, the next step to creating an integrated application ecosystem is implementing online project management software. When choosing the right management software for your firm, consider how the software integrates with your current applications:

“It’s an ecosystem because of the way platforms integrate with each other. Find ways to connect the dots and get efficiency. When looking at practice management software, many firms want better reporting and cloud-based practice management. … [The benefits of cloud-based management] allow you to move beyond reporting and start managing your firm with more dashboards and metrics analytics. It’s what we call additional business intelligence.”

– Daniel Moshe

The proper use of project management tools provides opportunities to take a deeper look into your firm’s operations beyond reports. The data collected delivers invaluable analytic information to improve your firm’s workflow. When your firm implements the information obtained from project management tools and platforms, it gains the tools needed to run smoothly:

“If you haven’t looked at a workflow platform, one to check out is Aero Workflow. It’s a cloud-based and browser-based application. Browser-based means that you can open up Chrome, type in an address, and log into your workflow and project management software. What I love about Aero is the fact that they provide templates. It’s built specifically for CPA firms and the type of work that CPA firms provide.”

– Daniel Moshe
Team sitting around laptop reviewing team deliverables

Implementing templates provided by workflow platforms clarifies processes behind tasks your firm needs to accomplish. These platforms enable your firm with the ability to track the progress of projects properly. As a result, your team can easily accomplish its work: 

“You have task templates that follow a service you provide to your clients and break it down into each type of work and who’s doing what. It then allows people to log their time, add their notes, stay on the same page, and make sure that everything’s getting done in a timely and effective way.”

– Daniel Moshe

Utilizing practice management software and workflow platforms benefits your firm by giving detailed insight into the services you provide. These applications allow you to adjust areas that may be lacking and move forward with operations that streamline your performance. 

Applying cloud ecosystems to client engagement

After establishing the basis of internal collaboration tools and practice management software, you can expand the reach of your app ecosystem to your clients. Implementing communication software provides opportunities to connect with your clients virtually:

“Instead of that next phone call or in-person meeting, how about doing a Zoom online meeting? [It will] save both your client and yourself some drive time. Get a webcam or use the one you’ve already got built into your computer. It makes sharing the screen really, really easy. Therefore, you can demonstrate or show something on that client’s computer from your computer with ease.”

– Daniel Moshe

Modern communication platforms give your firm the ability to connect with your clients more than ever. The increased connection allows you to respond to clients’ needs quickly. 

In addition to improved communication, a robust application ecosystem gives you the ability to integrate information from your management systems with applications that empower your clients within their businesses. Float, a cash flow forecasting application, gives your clients the ability to take control of their businesses: 

“Float is a cash flow forecasting application. It takes your budget and then allows you to make a visual forecast of future cash flows. If there is anything that I would love to see from my business, it is a cash flow forecast. This is a way you can connect to the cloud-based software of [your ecosystem] and help your clients visualize their cash flow. It allows them to run scenarios and see how changes in their business would either positively or negatively impact cash flow.”

– Daniel Moshe

Utilizing these applications provides you with opportunities to offer value-added services and increase connectivity with your clients. These services benefit your firm by seamlessly integrating client records into your cloud ecosystem. Additionally, they give your clients better control over their businesses by providing detailed information about their finances.

Learn more about modern communication platforms and how to increase client engagement

Stepping away from old technology and moving toward modern communication platforms may seem like an obstacle to overcome initially. However, it offers the possibility of facilitating exponential growth within your firm. When you shift your focus to virtual software solutions, your firm naturally grows into a scalable business that benefits from integration with your client base: 

“Step one, automate your back office. Step two, provide this as a service for your clients to help them automate as well. [Cloud management platforms] offer a lot of opportunity for vertical growth, specialization, and additional recurring revenue.”

– Daniel Moshe

If you would like to learn more about virtual communication platforms that can help your firm grow, check out the entire webinar here. Also, be sure to check out Part One and Part Two of this article series for more information about implementing connected technology to facilitate organic business growth. 

Our mission at Gusto is to create a world where accounting firms can seamlessly integrate technology to facilitate growth. We currently partner with over 4,500 firms nationwide to create incredible workplaces. Be sure to look into our People Advisory Program to learn how to train your team to reach its potential. We also provide a partner blog full of resources for all your advising needs. Visit our Gusto for Accountants page for more information on utilizing people-based accounting within your firm.

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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