As the globe navigates the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic across businesses, many of us are now facing the prospect of working in this way for an extended period.
Adapting your practice processes with the right tools to enable secure-remote working will set your business for growth in the long run while allowing your business to operate as close to business as usual now. To name a few long-term benefits, you will be able to recruit from a wider pool of potential employees, from people with home responsibilities to upcoming generations for whom flexible working holds significant appeal.
Fortunately, cloud or online tools are readily available to support your teams in being just as productive out of the office as in it, possibly even more so.
But what does it take to create the best possible working environment away from the office?
Digitising your working practices
As a first step, break down the processes that underly your interactions with your clients and consider how these can be migrated to a digital platform.
These are the essential capabilities you’ll need:
- Ability to view client-side information in the moment
Where you can log in securely to the client’s cloud-based bookkeeping and accounting package, you’ll be able to see the same live data on screen in real time as they do. With access to an up-to-date, accurate picture of their business, you can address any queries and better advise on business-critical decisions.
You can also encourage your clients to adopt a smart receipt scanner app for digital document automation of day-to-day business documents such as invoices and receipts. Captured on a mobile phone, these documents flow into the online accounting software for auto-processing and approval. Tools like these also extend your client’s ability to work remotely.
Create closer collaboration with your clients using solutions such as Twinfield and Basecone, by enabling them to capture business documents on their mobile phone. What’s more you can securely log into your client’s profile on Twinfield without having to load the data onto our system first while on a call with them. Despite being remote, you will both looking at the same screen.
If clients still prefer to post physical receipts and invoices to you for you to process, Basecone becomes a huge timesaver for your team in extracting important information such as the amount, VAT and supplier name from paper records; allocating it to the correct supplier and nominal code in the cloud bookkeeping package.
- Everything you know about the client at your fingertips
In a mobile and connected world, being out of the office doesn’t mean being out of touch. If you use electronic document management, there is simply no need to be in an office.
You can work in a paperless environment for creating, storing, sharing and managing information, along with your network of colleagues and clients. As emails aren’t hidden away in personal inboxes, other members of the team can see and respond to client queries, as appropriate.
We have seen many of our customers eliminate the cost and inconvenience of paper documentation and in empowering remote working by using CCH Document Management. This is particularly important when you teams are working remotely. Once any files have been added to the system, documents and other items can be found and opened almost instantly.
- Share information securely with clients
Working remotely demands a secure way to exchange documents, such as a tax return, with your client to secure their approval. If you’re able to connect, communicate and collaborate with clients from any location, on any device 24/7, distance becomes immaterial.
Rather than using email, consider having a secure online ‘space’ for messaging and document exchange and approval, minimizing risk and giving clients instant access to all their important documents.
Many practices have seen working with clients in the cloud brings a faster response to outbound communications. When you use technology such as Documents and Messages in CCH OneClick, messages don’t get lost in a heap of correspondence or buried at the bottom of your client’s inbox. This eliminates what used to be a frustrating roadblock in getting the job done.
Finally, where firms are not accustomed the practice of remote working, senior partners may have concerns around operational effectiveness.
In fact, the accountancy profession has an advantage here. The majority of firms require employees to record their time and keep their timesheets up to date. Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting UK users can do this just as easily from home as from their office desk, through CCH Practice Management. Meanwhile CCH KPI Monitoring gives access to timesheets across a team or practice.
Ultimately, however, you will need to trust your team to get the job done. For many successful firms, remote working is already the new normal. For many firms who have always taken a flexible, family-friendly approach to working from home, their software has enabled members of the team to work remotely on clients’ jobs.
Benefit from best practice
There is no need for any accountancy firm to take the journey to remote working alone. Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting UK can share many success stories of firms that encourage remote working.
If you would like to find out more, email email@example.com or talk to your account manager.