Can small business advisors seek to keep up with clients while also managing the new remote work environment? Here’s how MYOB Practice solves many common headaches for accountants and bookkeepers now, and into the future.
The COVID-19 crisis will end. Hopefully sooner rather than later. For now, many professionals across all sectors have been forced to adapt their ways of working to lockdown conditions.
Those business owners that had previously taken the time to offer flexible working arrangements with work-from-home facilities are well-placed in this new era. For the others, it’s a time of significant change.
And that’s also why, for the sake of the small business landscape and the wider economy, bookkeepers, accountants and other business advisors are working around to clock to make sure social distancing doesn’t negatively impact efficiency or productivity, while also managing their own switch to remote working.
We asked bookkeeper and MYOB SME subject matter expert Chris McComb for her top four tips for managing your bookkeeping business, your clients and your workflow under lockdown.
“My first tip for people having to work remotely is to set up as much automation as possible,” said McComb.
With all the distractions of working remotely and the additional responsibilities the lockdown may bring (including the extra help clients may need), automation is going to be critical.
“The more you can automate some of the mundane day to day tasks, the more time you’re going to have to commit to adding real value to your clients.”
The easiest place to start is with your transaction processing.
There are some quick wins to be had in the processing of your data that will enhance your efficiency and get some time back in your day:
“I particularly love the Capture app and have told all my clients about it,” says McComb. “It’s included in their subscription and makes it so much easier when they’re out and about.
“Clients can easily send their receipts through or they come through automatically from their suppliers. It saves a lot of chasing receipts.”
Making a few simple changes like these can increase the amount of automation in your workflows and have a huge impact on efficiency. This, in turn, will take a great deal of the stress out of working remotely.
No matter how large or spread out your team are, they should all be able to track how their clients are positioned, what work is in progress, and how to prioritise this work.
“I rely on the Transaction Processing page in the Partner Dashboard,” explained McComb.
“From there, I can see all my clients in one spot, how much of each file is automated and which clients’ files need immediate action at a glance.”
For BAS agents, the online BAS form keeps all BAS information and documents in one place and allows that information to be shared with colleagues. You can also lodge competitor ledgers, so they’re all on the one platform. It’s as simple as creating a contact file.
“The In Tray makes life a lot easier for me and my clients,” said McComb.
“My client sends all his receipts and documents through the In Tray and then anyone working on his file can view them and assign them accordingly.”
Select from options like ‘Create New Bill’, ‘Create New Spend Money’ or ‘Add to Existing Bill’ to quickly allocate outgoings.
“MYOB Practice has all the information we need in one spot, which is great.”
The larger your team is and the longer the lockdown period lasts, the more important visibility is going to become for you, your team, and the service you can offer to clients.
Take a look at the tools you already have access to and make them work for you and your team.
“With June end coming up soon, MYOB Portal will also be a great place to capture everything,” McComb suggests.
“MYOB Portal means client and agent both have the visibility for the file and can continue to work on it together during tax time.”
Communication is probably the biggest challenge we’ll face throughout the duration pandemic. There’s heaps of information out there, and it’s not always clear whether it’s current or factual.
And even once you’ve taken the time to stay up to date and informed, it’s another challenge entirely to keep your colleagues and clients across it all as well.
“We work in an industry where a lot of our work is done in person,” says McComb. “Finding online tools that help replace some of those common face-to-face interactions is critical to maintaining efficiency.”
MYOB Portal is a powerful solution to consider as part of your communications toolkit. Keeping all the relevant client data in one place, where it can be accessed remotely, means staff have the information they need to get on with the job from wherever they have internet access.
“By using MYOB Portal as an online collaboration tool, we can securely send documents backwards and forwards to each other. As a result, all our business-critical communications are available in one place.
“Before using MYOB Portal, our communications were scattered across folders and emails, making it difficult and inefficient to keep on top of.”
MYOB Portal also allows users to send and receive digital signatures, thereby cutting down on paperwork or converting files from one format to another.
“It’s so clean. You simply validate your BAS, then send to the client to get a digital signature. I can then see it’s signed once it comes back and I come to lodge it.
“I don’t think our partners know just how easy and efficient it is. It’s a real time saver.”
Get regular business news and tips in your inbox to help keep your business running.
If you’re using an MYOB Practice solution, you can set up tasks as a way to automate requests for information from clients, or signatures on important documents, for example.
By automating the process of communicating with clients, there’s no need to remember what information you or your team are chasing, or where the approval process is up to — it’s all viewed in one spot.
Set dates against the tasks and you’ll see when they become overview by handy icons. Once the task is done, you’ll be notified and can mark the task as complete or request further information.
“I’ve set up tasks for BAS against my clients and to have all the activity on one screen made the process so much easier.
“Now when it comes to any information I need to complete BAS for a client, it’s all already there by the time I need it.”
The inevitable economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak means clients are likely to be turning to you more than ever for the advice that could prove critical to their business.
In order to provide them with timely insights and information, bookkeepers and other business advisors will need to work hard to improve their own business efficiency. The good news is, this can be achieved in short order if you select the right tools for the job.
“Hopefully some of the tips I’ve shared here can help to unlock some new efficiency in your practice and buy you the time you need to invest in the advisory service your clients now crave,” said McComb.
“Offering advisory services at scale can be difficult at the best of times, but that’s where MYOB Advisor can become your best friend.”
MYOB Advisor provides a quick way to get an assessment of your client’s financials by pulling across data straight from their file. Advisor creates a report that highlights areas the client could focus on and provides natural language suggestions for the conversations you may want to have with them.
“It’s also highly customisable. I can update reports from MYOB Advisor with my logo and amend the text as needed.
“The report gives me, and the client, all the information required to make informed business decisions.”
With tools like MYOB Advisor now available to bookkeepers and accountants, professionals like McComb can increase the value they provide to their clients through advisory services without spending a tonne of time and resources on research, data collation and analysis.
“The advisory tool is invaluable to us, what would have taken hours can literally be done in a flash.
“With the requirements around the Jobkeeper stimulus package, this tool is critical to saving us time and helping our clients understand where the holes in their business are to help prove the loss in income for the ATO.”
It’s more important than ever to be able to quickly understand the financial health of your clients and to communicate that to them.
Acquiring the right tools for the job is always going to be a big part of that, making working from home just as efficient (if not more) than commuting into the office each day.