While it’s common to find hitting the gym more and eating better at the top of many new year to-do lists, this year we’re all about resolving to work smarter, not harder.
If you’ve got your own list of new year to-dos to get through, implementing just one of these five automation ideas will help you find more time to work through it over the year ahead.
Sales & marketing
While sales & marketing isn’t typically an area accounting practices have put emphasis on in the past, it’s becoming more important. While there is a lot of admin involved in finding and onboarding new clients, many of the repetitive processes can easily be automated using handy integrations.
Contact forms: Create a contact form on your website and use a tool like Zapier to automatically add new contact details to your newsletter list or into a new enquiry spreadsheet.
Blog & social media posts: Many website platforms allow you to draft and schedule your posts in advance so you can set and forget key client updates / interest articles. Similarly, you can schedule your social media posts in advance using tools like HootSuite – their free account plan lets you connect up to 3 social platforms (e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter) and 30 scheduled messages per month.
Proposals: Whether you’re using an eSignature platform like Docusign or a specialised proposal platform like Practice Ignition or Proposify, you can again use Zapier to automatically update your online message board or intranet to alert everyone to newly won projects.
You likely already have a centralised work planning process or add on integrated with your practice and document management program, but there are also number of online solutions that are great for keeping track of projects and checklists, or that team members might like to use to manage their everyday to-dos.
One we love is Trello, which has a great free automation feature called Butler. Add tasks and checklists to your board in Trello, and program Butler to automatically do various items based on rules that you specify. For example, you might have a “New Client To-Do” card that gets assigned to a team member. When steps on that card are completed, you can set Butler to automatically move the card to the next person in the process and/or create new tasks and cards.
Your accounting practice is full of repetitive processes that you complete regularly both across your entire client base and even within specific client groups. Automating repetitive processes is one of the easiest ways to gain efficiencies – the key is to ensure the process you’re automating can follow a standard approach.
Processing, checking, and distributing ATO documents is a perfect process for automation as all client notices typically follow a standard approach within your practice. ATOmate automates the entire process from notice collection (e.g. downloading notices in bulk from the tax office) through to distribution, identifying errors or discrepancies along the way and then filing all correspondence back into your system for you – cutting your ATO document processing time by over 90%! Click here to find out more.
Email is great for client engagement – but it’s easy to waste time in your inbox when email is your primary internal communication tool. There are a host of great chat solutions available for internal collaboration, but one that we recommend is Slack. It has lots of flexibility for creating dedicated channels for internal projects and has direct messaging features that you can set controls over as needed. Not only that, but there are extensive automation features: you can set up regular reminders in channels or private chats (e.g. every Friday afternoon you can set a reminder such as “Hey team, don’t forget to post your timesheet!”), automatically put yourself into “do not disturb” mode at a specific time each day, and lots of other handy features like sharing your computer screen with others.
Tired of trying to line up a meeting time with clients or colleagues, playing phone tag, and revisiting calendars continuously? With solutions like Calendly, Microsoft Bookings, or Doodle it’s now really easy to automate tasks associated with scheduling. Many of these solutions allow you to sync across multiple room and person calendars, add questions to your booking form, and automatically generate meeting reminders. Add a calendar booking link to your email signature and/or website to make it even easier for clients and prospects to connect with you.
Automations don’t need to be complex to be effective and help you turbocharge your efficiency. If you have an automation you can’t live without, let us know and we’ll share it with our network!