Efficiency Tech Tools for Your Practice
Accountants today have more digital solutions available than ever before. Set yourself apart by adopting some of today’s leading technologies.
Efficiency begins with good internal teamwork. The cloud-based communication tool, Slack, has quickly become a preferred communication method for business teams. Slack departs from traditional email in favor of a texting paradigm, offering persistent chat room channels organized by topic, private groups and direct messaging, all stored on one platform and completely searchable. Slack integrates with more than 150 other leading business apps, including Dropbox, Google Drive and Zendesk.
Another popular internal collaboration tool is Salesforce’s Chatter. Chatter uses a social media paradigm for collaboration, creating an employee directory that serves as an internal social media network. Each employee has a profile with his or her photo, a description of whom they report to and other work-related information. Employees can follow each other, follow documents and receive notifications.
Slack not only serves as an internal collaboration tool, but an internal communication tool, as well. Similar to Slack, Microsoft’s Yammer provides an internal social media network, but it is integrated with the popular Office 365 business software suite, including email and other communication tools. Yammer also provides a groups feature that stores all team communication in one place where everyone can see messages, files and updates. For security, employees can only connect if they have an approved email address and are logging in from an approved internet domain.
Instant Video Conferencing Communication
Slack also functions as an instant video conferencing communication tool, while Yammer integrates with Skype for Business, which combines video with messaging, meetings and screen sharing.
Another videoconferencing solution is Google Hangouts, which integrates messaging, voice and video calls within a Gmail or Google+ environment or through online apps.
While your internal team might work better using more recent communication tools, many of your clients will still be using email. A popular email option for communicating with clients includes Office 365, which syncs email, contact information and calendars within an Office suite environment. Gmail performs similar functions within a Google Apps suite environment.
Office 365 and Google Apps support client collaboration; so can Google Groups, which allows collaboration within the context of online forums and email-based groups.
Another collaboration tool to consider is Smartsheet, which uses a cloud-based spreadsheet-style interface to support task assignments, project progress tracking, calendar management, document sharing and workflow management. Zendesk enables you to handle customer service issues using a cloud-based support ticket system.
Task and To-Do Lists
Mobile apps for taking digital notes and creating lists can also be useful. Evernote lets you create digital notes and notebooks out of text, handwritten notes, web pages and web images, photos, and voice memos. Notes can be tagged, marked with annotations and comments, edited, searched, exported and shared. Asana, a cloud-based project management tool, enables team members to share tasks to which they can add notes, comments, attachments and tags.
To manage your relationships with your clients more efficiently, QuickBooks® Online Accountant lets you collaborate with your clients in the cloud without the hassle of exchanging files. You can see and manage your clients’ QuickBooks Online books through a convenient. online dashboard.
To manage your projects online, Karbon provides a cloud-based project management tool specifically designed for accountants, enabling projects to be assigned and prioritized from a single dashboard that lets you communicate with your entire team, rather than having to send assignments to individual inboxes. Here are a few more project management tools to consider:
- Podio is a cloud-based workspace for organizing data, content, business processes and team communication.
- Basecamp combines an online space for tracking projects with the ability to communicate through email as well as the cloud.
- Wrike is designed to streamline workflow through online tracking of projects, deadlines and schedules so that companies can focus on core tasks.
- Confluence is a Java-based project management tool that can be used for collaboration both online or on-premises.