Running a successful accounting firm can leave you feeling like you’re drowning in details with limited time to focus on the big picture.
Even if you can juggle multiple clients and projects without missing a beat, overwhelm can set in if you’re missing the proper tools to manage your client work. One of the most important tools in today’s digital business climate is software that’s made for your type of business.
But how do you know your practice is ready, and what kind of software will work best for your firm? Here, we’re diving into your options for one of the most transformative types of platforms for your industry: accounting project management software.
First, let’s talk about why now is the right time to consider adopting a new software solution.
In the past, spreadsheets were the gold standard for tracking client work in the accounting world. They were the default method of managing client information, to-do lists and even client requests. However, their limitations have come to far outweigh the pros of using them, especially as more advanced software has arrived on the scene.
While spreadsheets can store vast amounts of data, they aren’t particularly intuitive when you’re managing multiple projects at once. Milestones can get lost among rows and columns, and without built-in notifications, important due dates can be missed. As your team grows, collaboration on a single spreadsheet can become chaotic, resulting in errors, duplication and loss of key data.
Today’s accounting clients expect quick response time and transparency about what’s going on with their money, which is much harder to provide when your team is stuck in spreadsheets and struggling to achieve operational efficiency.
You may already be leveraging platforms such as a CRM or specialized tax return software, but you may be missing a core technology function for your industry: project management.
Regardless of the size of your business or range of your services, you need organized processes. From the initial stages of client acquisition and onboarding to the intricate details of financial auditing or tax preparation and, finally, the delivery of services, each step is a project in itself. This journey through interactions with your firm, if mismanaged, could lead to inefficiencies, errors and communication gaps.
While many software tools are excellent for isolated functions, they don’t often bridge gaps in the way that a great project management tool can.
Here are three accounting use cases in which project management software is a game-changer:
Now that you understand the unique applications of project management software to a modern accounting firm, let’s discuss:
Client work is the crux of your accounting business, and you’ve been successfully managing client projects since day one. But as your business grows and your client list expands, that work can become too daunting and inefficient to do manually.
In the accounting world, the smallest details are crucial, and you can’t afford to commit unintentional errors that negatively impact those relationships you’ve worked so hard to build.
Tech solutions that assist with project management can streamline your existing business processes, therefore boosting efficiency, reducing human error and supporting your business’s growth.
Whether you’re seeking a better way to manage mounting tasks, improve collaboration across dispersed teams or gain insight into the work your team is doing, project management software can help.
With the right tool in place, you’ll be more likely to achieve the following four benefits.
Project management software acts as a centralized hub for all project-related activities, helping your team easily identify their responsibilities. With everything from task assignment to document management in a single platform, you can focus on amping up your client service and responding to ad-hoc requests. Boosting individual productivity is one way to improve your overall profitability.
As you’re aware, accounting mistakes can have serious legal and financial repercussions. A well-implemented project management tool will equip you with checklists and audit trails to track changes and develop a systematic, accurate approach to service delivery. Plus, if you go for a platform with advanced access permissions and security features, you can rest assured that your clients’ sensitive data is safe — something you can’t guarantee if you’re merely switching from spreadsheet to spreadsheet.
Transparency is essential for effective project management. When you have real-time insights into the progress of tasks, allocation of resources and potential bottlenecks, you can make informed decisions and predict how you’ll need to assign work in the upcoming weeks and months.
Clients and other stakeholders need to know about deadlines, changes to financial statements, specific transactions and more. Consistent communication should be a priority without taking away from your team’s ability to do efficient work.
If you’re ready to transform your accounting firm, here are some of the best project management platforms to consider adding to your tech stack. We’re covering everything you need to know, from stand-out features to pros, cons and pricing tiers.
Accelo is a cloud-based client work management platform designed to help professional services firms, including accounting firms, manage client relationships from prospect to payment. The platform provides customizable solutions to expand visibility, improve collaboration and increase profits.
Accelo offers five pricing plans that scale with your business, from a self-serve plan for managing client information, tasks and communication all the way to the Elite tier, which includes all quote-to-cash features, premium support and more.
➡ Read more about what accounting firms are saying about Accelo.
Asana is a work management platform built to help teams organize, assign and track projects. With its templates, automation and reporting tools, team members can use the platform to manage their individual tasks, collaborate across projects and improve visibility into project progress.
Asana offers three pricing tiers:
➡ Learn about the core differences between Accelo and Asana.
ClickUp is an all-in-one productivity platform where teams can plan, organize and collaborate on work using tasks, Docs, Chat, Goals, Whiteboards and more. The customizable platform can fit the needs of teams of all types and sizes.
ClickUp has four pricing tiers:
➡ Compare the features and benefits of Accelo vs. ClickUp.
monday.com is a versatile work management system that helps teams with workflow management and team collaboration. It’s designed to suit a variety of business needs, from project planning to document editing.
monday.com’s pricing plans are as follows:
➡ Which is right for your firm: Accelo or monday.com?
Sage Intacct is a cloud-based accounting software with planning and automation tools to streamline your business processes. The platform helps businesses manage projects, resources and budgets and increase visibility. It can function as an ERP software connecting multiple entities.
Sage Intacct’s pricing is quote-based.
Trello is a visual collaboration tool built on the Kanban framework that offers teams a shared platform to manage work, build projects and track progress. Because of its flexibility, the platform can meet the needs of multiple industries and work styles, and it offers more than 200 integrations to connect to other tools.
Trello has four pricing tiers:
Wrike is a collaborative work management platform tailored for teams to streamline projects, automate workflows and achieve operational excellence. Accounting teams use Wrike to maximize productivity and minimize administrative work.
Wrike’s pricing is tiered as follows:
➡ See even more Wrike alternatives for project management.
One big question that arises for many business owners when selecting a project management software is what kind of task management functions it should have. The answer will depend on how your business has managed tasks in the past and whether you need to clean up those processes.
While assigning tasks appears to be a simple enough job in the early days of running a business, it can become overwhelming when you have a long list of clients and a full menu of services. Over time, your task list multiplies. Independent tasks can become a maze of responsibilities and spiral into an overwhelmed team and unsatisfied clients.
In accounting, your tasks are never isolated, so having a platform that can handle task dependencies is essential. Your accountants and project managers shouldn’t be consumed by having to keep track of all the dependencies along your workflows. They could spend their valuable time and apply their skillsets to strategizing and optimizing for profitable projects instead. It’s time to free them up with software that will consolidate, manage and properly assign tasks with as little effort as possible.
Project management software that doubles as task management software with built-in dependency functionality enables your team to map out an entire project to see the sequential flow of tasks. This ensures that one task doesn’t begin until the preceding one is complete.
➡ Worried about the change? Prep your team for new software.
Another key function of the right project management software for accounting is time tracking. To track your individual contributors’ workloads and properly assign tasks, you’ll want to accurately collect data about what they’re working on — and for how long. When done properly, tracking time can make even resource management achievable. And for the employees whose time is billable, time tracking is key to gaining accurate insights into your business’s profitability.
Only a couple of the platforms mentioned above offer this feature, which we consider to be an essential of a good project management platform.
A great time-tracking software should:
When time tracking is integrated with your project management platform, your employees won’t have to waste time logging in to a separate tool to complete time logs. Choosing a solution with automated time tracking — such as Accelo’s convenient timers — make this process far more effective than going the manual route.
From a leadership perspective, the data that comes from accurately tracking time is priceless. You can use insights about your team’s time to make key decisions about hiring, training, bringing on new clients or expanding your services without guessing.
The benefits of project management software on your internal communications and operations are likely apparent, but the positive effects of new tech adoption can also trickle down to your clients.
When you get organized about project management and tighten up workflows using project accounting software, your team will have:
In turn, your clients experience:
Furthermore, if you choose a platform with a client portal, you can make communicating with clients and uploading documents much simpler. As you know, the value of this simplification cannot be overstated when you’re bogged down during tax season.
Finding the best project management software for your firm will depend on your goals, budget and the unique needs of your team. The above list is just a getting-started guide.
Take time now to decide what problems you need to solve in terms of project management, task management and resource management and dig a little deeper into how each platform can help.
Determine if your accounting firm needs a tool to do more than simple project management — if you’re ready to consolidate your tech stack and fully streamline your client journey from prospect to payment, Accelo’s client work management software could be a great choice.
See what Accelo can do for you by requesting a demo.