When it comes to employee training, accounting and bookkeeping firms often focus too much on technical skills and fail to provide soft skills training. Chances are you didn't receive formal management, communication, or problem-solving training as a team leader—and most educational programs don't even cover those topics.
New employees need to gain core knowledge, and you must learn how to train and develop them on the go. At Connected Accounting, process training is an effective way to teach our accountants how to troubleshoot and make sound decisions. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the importance of process training, what it entails, and how to implement it.
The importance of process training
Process training is crucial. Team members must understand the processes and procedures involved in delivering your services. Employees must be aware of the expectations and standards set by your firm. Big picture first. Context is the basis to help them identify and troubleshoot issues when they arise.
What process training entails
We start with an overview of our services—bookkeeping, bill pay, payroll, and more—and a review of our best practices. The training should focus on the steps involved in each process. Staff members need to know the order of tasks, which tasks they are responsible for, and the process and outcome of each task. Showing them final products is helpful, such as a bank reconciliation, a screenshot of a draft payroll sent by Slack to a supervisor for approval, or an empty inbox in the bill pay system.
But don't stop there. Explaining to them what happens next is important, too. Show them what supervisors or managers do next, including emailing open items to the client, drafting the financial statements, and approving bills. This will help them take ownership of their work and take on more responsibilities over time.
How to implement process training
The first step is to document your processes and procedures by laying out a standard list of steps team members must follow to deliver each service. It doesn't have to be perfect, but start with a high-level overview.
Some examples include bills are emailed to the bill pay system, each Thursday we code the bills, and each Friday we pay the bills. Then identify the areas where your team struggles most. It could be coding the bills. Next, develop a training program that details which items need input into the system, such as name, due date, and amount, and how to select the correct account—refer to historical transactions, for example.
This is also an excellent stage to remind them of best practices, such as "don't duplicate bills," and "code to unknown expenses if unsure. Consider using online and in-person training to ensure your team is fully engaged and learning effectively. We love one-on-one Zoom meetings. Finally, regularly revisit and update the training program to keep up with changes in the profession and your firm’s practices.
Consider the following best practices to make your process training successful:
- Ensure team members know where to go with questions. For example, we give them a checklist where they can tick off items such as "check our knowledge database," "email the support team of the app you're working on," and "search Google or YouTube, or Slack a co-worker."
- Create general or client-specific videos and screenshots to illustrate each process.
- Provide ongoing support and feedback to your team. This helps them to stay motivated and engaged, and allows you to identify areas where they need improvement.
- Reward your team for their hard work and achievements. This can be as simple as a verbal acknowledgment in a meeting or as a taco in Slack ... we love those!
Benefits of process training
Practical process training has several benefits for your accounting firm and your team. It ensures your team works efficiently and fosters an ownership mentality at the staff level, resulting in employees, instead of managers, troubleshooting and offering solutions. It also helps create a continuous improvement and learning culture within your firm. Your team will be more motivated and engaged, leading to higher retention rates and a stronger reputation.
Process training is a crucial element of accounting firm leadership. By teaching your team how to troubleshoot and exercise sound judgment, you can ensure they work efficiently and accurately. This, in turn, leads to higher-quality work, more satisfied clients, and a stronger reputation for your firm. Use the tips and best practices outlined in this blog post to implement practical process training to benefit your team and clients.