Efficient office management creates more opportunities for advice 


Accountancy practice management software has come a long way. Today, features like automated billing and reconciliations are easily integrated into the day-to-day practice workflow of Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting UK customers.

Our employees work side by side with our customers to create and manage these solutions – driven by a deep understanding of their needs and addressing the rapid changes in their environment.

However, it’s often hard to look beyond improving performance in day-to-day operations. Amid Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic and other disruptions, accountancy practices and their clients are dealing with an unpredictable economic landscape. Future business planning can appear daunting.

However, technology can support accountancy practices (and their clients) in making informed business decisions, and planning for the future. In the first part of our Accountancy Practice Management for Future-Fit Growth series, we’ll explore how they can use technology to define and easily track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Doing so gives practices closer control of performance tracking, and deeper insights that will inform strategic growth plans.

Saving Time

For several decades, business technology platforms have enabled practices to track performance metrics that they have customised. This highlights areas that qualify for improvement and underpins strategic planning.

Contemporary technology, such as CCH KPI Monitoring, makes setting up KPIs faster and easier for accountancy practices than ever before. This is vital today. The current business landscape demands that firms assess and amend KPIs more frequently, based on fresh market variables. KPIs such as client retention rate and business time-to-recovery have become increasingly prominent performance indicators in the past year. If clunky technology makes KPI management difficult, practices have less time and insight to plan future growth.

Reducing Risk
CCH KPI Monitoring makes it far easier to track KPIs and report on them. This is fundamental in minimising risk. For example, if a KPI is set to track and escalate debt filtered by overdue dates, the ability to easily set alerts and automatically generate reports is critical to practice performance management.

Some practices are manually running monthly reports to measure KPIs. Others are running real-time reporting engines, a key feature of CCH KPI Monitoring. This latter solution allows practices to review essential data at any time – covering both performance management and compliance requirements. They can do so remotely or on-premise.

This means that firms can assess issues before they become problems, and thus act proactively. Real-time reporting is a true asset in building a future-fit practice.

The Proof is in the Practice
A number of Wolters Kluwer customers have been using CCH KPI Monitoring for several years now. Our customers look to us when they need to be right. Ryecroft Glenton has successfully integrated CCH KPI Monitoring with its own system. This consolidates information from several sources, including CCH Central and CCH Practice Management.

“We can use the year end date to trigger a sequence of reminders. Have we asked for the books? Have they been received? If a request to a client has been outstanding for a certain period, the partner will receive an alert via email. For limited companies, we can monitor the corporation tax and Companies House filing deadlines – as well as the different deadlines for pension schemes”

– Ian Smith, partner at Ryecroft Glenton

Corporate events agency who benefited from greener graphics initiative

“Apogee are not just aprinting company, theyconsult with us and go onto deliver a full end to endservice from concept toinstallation. They go aboveand beyond and we lookforward to continuing ourjourney with them”

Corporate events agency who benefited from greener graphics initiative

“Apogee are not just aprinting company, theyconsult with us and go onto deliver a full end to endservice from concept toinstallation. They go aboveand beyond and we lookforward to continuing ourjourney with them”

Corporate events agency who benefited from greener graphics initiative

“Apogee are not just aprinting company, theyconsult with us and go onto deliver a full end to endservice from concept toinstallation. They go aboveand beyond and we lookforward to continuing ourjourney with them”

Corporate events agency who benefited from greener graphics initiative

“Apogee are not just aprinting company, theyconsult with us and go onto deliver a full end to endservice from concept toinstallation. They go aboveand beyond and we lookforward to continuing ourjourney with them”

A tightly run office and intensive online collaboration with clients. This combination increases your chances of standing out as a ‘business coach’, a much-discussed concept among SME accountants. What is your client strategy? As a firm, do you strive for super smooth processes, a low-cost price and sharp rates, resulting in Operational Excellence? Claiming Product Leadership – for example, offering the best, most innovative product, or offering superior professional services? Or rather Customer Intimacy; where you know so much about the client that you can almost recall the date of their company anniversary from memory, the cost price development in their sector and even what the most recent monthly result was? 

The aforementioned value discipline model by Treacy and Wiersema still contains incontrovertible truths, according to Erik Ledeboer and Arjen Nijdam, both Senior Product Marketing Managers at Exact Cloud Solutions. At the same time, they are convinced that nowadays accountants cannot afford to subscribe to a single value discipline strategy; they will inevitably have to follow multiple strategies at the same time. 

Choosing is losing 
Choosing is often losing, even though it’s unnecessary, state Ledeboer and Nijdam. Firms that opt for Customer Intimacy have to be jacks of all trades and that’s impossible without extremely well-oiled processes and a proper CRM system as part of a total solution. A package such as Exact for Accountancy enables accountants and accountancies to manage their firms effectively and efficiently, which frees them up to become proactive advisers. ‘It is Operational Excellence that leads to Customer Intimacy,’ says Ledeboer. ‘By carrying out administrative tasks much more efficiently, the cost price drops, you create opportunities to offer extra services and you create more time for proactive advice.’ Nijdam uses an example of a user who saw his practice change drastically in a short time thanks to Exact for Accountancy. ‘Previously, 80 percent of his people were busy with accounting; that figure has currently been reduced to approximately 20 percent. The rest is now focused on consultancy work. And where he previously had to go back and forth with clients about figures and interpreting them, nowadays the process is much quicker because everyone has access to the same figures. That offers more room to discuss the business. He is still involved in the figures, but in a way which helps his client much more with the business.’ 

Intelligent Practice Management 
To support this development, Exact has developed a solution for Practice Management, i.e., management of a firm’s office. Firms handle the accounting for clients in the same environment, and they are also fully in control of their own internal processes. The new solution consists of five components: CRM for relationship management, document management for the client file, time & billing, workflows/ tasks and finally the internal accounting. The package provides the firm with insight into pending work, the profitability of clients or certain types of clients, imminent budget overruns, the ratio between declared and written hours and the productivity of staff, among other things. Consultancy signals are also part of the software. Ledeboer: ‘There are other platforms for collaboration between accountants and their clients on the market, but these confine themselves more to the financial aspect. Our platform is an ‘all-in-one’ solution, entirely in the cloud. The accountant has real-time access to information from his clients and can extract both financial and operational data from it, which is made visible in new dashboards.’ The document management is primarily of interest to small and medium-sized accounting firms, says Ledeboer. ‘Small offices, in particular, keep documents on their own network discs or in a dropbox. In our cloud solution, these documents are also in a file structure, but on top of this, they are also directly linked to certain tasks, services and transactions. Everything is placed in far greater context and the document appears when you actually need it.’

All round insight
Nijdam says that Exact is striving for ‘Complete all-round insight into the client’ with the software. ‘You can instantly see everything that is happening relative to a client via our new client dashboard. This makes it possible to manage exceptions. It is important to be made aware only when something threatens to go wrong, or if there are deviations. Whether you and the client have agreed on a fixed price or subsequent costing for a project, if a budget overrun approaches, you will automatically be notified in the client dashboard. That also happens if a deadline could be about to be missed. For example, if agreements have been made about this for the annual accounts, but the client has not yet delivered all the required information, which is a frequently occurring problem within accounting.’ The software allows the accountant to be ‘constantly in control’, says Ledeboer. ‘But with significantly less effort. Competing systems often still use checklists, meaning the accountant still has to do manual checks. Our system lets the accountant sit back and relax, so to speak, while at the same time his scope of control greatly expands.’

Sector packages 
Exact offers the accountant’s clients three sector packages that are entirely in the cloud: Professional Services, Wholesale Distribution and Manufacturing. ‘If it concerns a wholesale distributor, then it includes key figures about the inventory and the order administration, for example. With all this data to hand, the accountant can offer broader business advice and assist the entrepreneur in growing their company. Imagine, a wholesale distributor purchases commodities. By connecting the inventory administration to the financial aspect, the accountant can actually already see at an early stage whether his client will experience a cash flow issue in four weeks’ time and he receives a notification via his dashboard. On the basis of that, he can take action at the moment that a booking is entered. That’s the wonderful thing about collaboration in the cloud.’

Feb 2017

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