Accounting firms’ project management software has been around for years, but productivity is something only a few accounting firms have been able to actualize.
That is because success in accounting firms’ project management software requires not just the decision to:
- Ditch unreliable spreadsheets for a workflow management software solution, but also;
- Choosing a project management software tool designed for the needs of the accounting community.
Because if you use project management software designed for every industry, you will need help to make it work for your team. And that may be at the risk of losing sensitive project information, among other things.
The industry that a project management software is designed for determines the features it will have now and in its roadmap.
What Is an Accounting Firms Project Management Software?
An accounting firm’s project management software is a tool that gives accounting teams the features they need to simplify operations and meet their unique project management needs, such as workflow (visibility and automation), time-tracking, and better collaboration (with team and client).
Why You Should Invest in Streamlined Project Management Software for Accounting Firms
As a client-oriented aspect of your firm, accounting project management software solutions give your team the clarity and organization to:
- Not Hitting Deadlines
Since the average accounting firm is constantly trying to meet client deadlines (especially during tax seasons), you need to utilize project management software that you can interact with to find the information you need and automate to complete manual processes and meet client deadlines.
In the 2023 State of Accounting Workflow Automation, firm owners said they spent an average of 10 hours scheduling and assigning tasks and reviewing and updating work status, which are all critical aspects of project management software.
Only 15.2% of accounting firms‘ teams could successfully collaborate with their teams and clients.
- Inability to Properly Track the Status of Accounting Firms Tasks
Tracking work status is never a problem when you have just a handful of clients. But if increasing clients and staff strength is a part of your growth plan, it’s just a matter of time before projects start slipping through the cracks.
- Lack of Collaboration (With Team and Clients)
Firm growth also requires you to create a system that enables your team to exchange files and ideas on demand. This might mean:
- The ability to comment on projects.
- @mention team members to draw their attention to your comment.
- Share client notes in the projects to guide your team.
Without this ability, your team will spend more time coordinating projects than actually doing the projects.
- Not Managing Team Capacity
You are likely handling several projects at any given time, and your employees are assigned several tasks across projects. Inability to track your employees’ workload to see who is overworking, you might run some of your staff to the ground with too much work while delivering inaccurate work.
The 7 Features Every Firm Needs from Their Accounting Project Management Software
Each accounting and bookkeeping firm has different project management software needs. Still, the following features are critical to the success of all accounting teams’ day-to-day client and admin work.
- Workflow Dashboard
The workflow dashboard is the homepage of most accounting project management software. The primary idea is to help you see your projects’ critical information at a glance. This usually includes the project title, the client it is for, the start, and due dates, so anyone can get a broad idea of your firm’s projects just by scrolling through your workflow dashboard.
The accounting firm’s project management software automatically updates the projects in the workflow dashboard as your team members complete each task.
To see more granular information about any work, you can open it to find what you need.
Here’s a workflow dashboard in Financial Cents
In addition to the project title, client name, and due date, the Financial Cents workflow dashboard also comes with a progress bar that allows you to see how much work has gone into the work. This allows you to gauge your chances of meeting clients’ deliverables.
Clicking on a project will show you more information, such as related emails, client files, and who is assigned to which task.
- Automating Recurring Tasks
The recurrences feature in accounting project management software helps firms to recreate the projects they complete for clients regularly.
When your weekly, monthly, or quarterly projects recreate automatically, you’ll reduce the planning and initiation hours. That will give the team increased time to focus on completing the work to the best of their abilities.
If you still need to, you will depend on calendars to remind you to recreate those tasks. And if, for whatever reason, the calendar system fails, that project will be at risk of delay and missing the deadline. That is why 70.5% of firm owners consider recurring tasks their most valuable feature in accounting project management software.
Financial Cents offers two types of recurrences:
- Default Recurrences (that recreate a project 30 minutes after it is marked completed or overdue)
- Custom Recurrences (that recreate work on more complex schedules like several months in advance or a specific day of the month).
Here’s how Financial Cents helps you track due dates
- Your projects are automatically sorted (usually in list format) by their due dates, which lets you see where each work stands compared with their due dates.
- You can also filter by the due date, which lets your team see what is Due this Week, Due Next Week, and Overdue.
- Tags automate the progression of projects through the stages.
- You can set up Due date reminders to automatically remind your team of projects approaching deadlines.
- You can also use internal due dates to get your team to complete projects ahead of the due date you promised your client.
- Assigning Projects or Tasks
The project (or task) assignment feature enables you to make someone in charge of a project.
Doing this will prevent some employees from overworking (and burning out) while others may need to do more. In addition, this feature allows you to take work from some employees and give it to others with increased time on their hands to complete them.
Each team member is automatically assigned the projects they create, but you can hand it to anyone on your team while creating the project.
You can also assign the tasks in the project to different team members by clicking the assignee avatar to the right of your screen. It will show you your team members, so you can select who to assign the task.
- Time Tracking
What is project management software without the ability to monitor how much time is going into the different aspects of client projects? Doing this on paper or spreadsheets is fraught with errors and is too time-consuming for you to be productive.
When using the time tracking feature inside an accounting firm’s project management software. It allows you to stay on top of your firm’s time with the click of a button or two.
This helps you understand how much time your team spends on clients. Secondly, where you need to bill clients adequately, and where your employees waste time.
If you use Financial Cents, these are some of the things one can do with its time-tracking feature:
- It has a Start-and-Stop Timer that lets your team start/stop/pause/resume time tracking on demand.
- Manual Entries that lets you log in time manually.
- Time Tracking Reports: for analyzing where your firm is losing time and why.
- Time Budgets for allocating time to clients based on the scope of their domain and the amount you’re billing them.
- Effective Hourly Rate for tracking how much you charge your clients versus how much your hours are worth.
- Workflow Templates
Workflow templates help accounting teams streamline processes by documenting the steps to complete client and administrative projects.
They save time (by allowing your team to work faster, complete more work and serve more clients). Also, it removes guesswork (especially for your new hires). Moreover, it keeps your work quality consistent by ensuring all employees follow the same procedures.
Despite their huge benefits, creating these workflows can be a time-consuming project in itself. That is why any good accounting project management software must have preset workflow templates. You can easily customize it to suit your unique project needs.
In Financial Cents, workflow templates are accessible from your workflow dashboard. A click on the Templates tab on the left-hand side will show you 40+ templates that you can use to complete your monthly bookkeeping, tax returns, and onboarding work in a shorter time. You can download them directly or use them inside Financial Cents.
- Client Requests
This feature addresses the struggles accounting firms team face when they need work-related information or documents from their clients.
Your clients have their businesses to run. So sending you the information and files you need to complete them can be so forgettable. That is why they need automated reminders to complete them on time.
In some cases, clients are still determining which information you need, but this feature also lets you clearly describe what you need your client to do.