In this article, you’re going to learn about what an accounting workflow is, the purpose your workflows serve in your firm with 9 key workflows that you can optimize in your accounting firms.

Let’s go!

What is a Workflow?

Your organization has a variety of critical tasks that need to be completed on an ongoing basis.

A workflow is therefore the sequence of steps required to move a task from beginning to end in order to complete it.

As an example, if you complete a tax return, in the same way, every time, then you likely have a workflow in place.

What are the Benefits of a Workflow?

Here are the key benefits of implementing workflows:

  • Faster, easier growth: It’s easier to grow when you can produce repeatable results in key areas of the business. Having workflows in place allows you to achieve this.
  • Consistency of outcome: Like a recipe, you want a similar result each time. Whether it’s marketing, sales, or a cash flow report, if every stage and step is documented, it’s done the same way each time.
  • Easier delegation: What work are you doing that you know should be delegated to your team? Chances are if you document the “what” of these tasks well enough, others can take the reigns.
  • Faster training: Workflows give a clear list of todos, making new hires more consistent and giving the recruits a roadmap to feeling comfortable.
  • Learn what’s not working: Workflows have a way of highlighting errors and missteps. This happens when you create the workflows (e.g., “why do we do that?”). When workflows are in motion, it highlights weaknesses like handoff between teammates and other issues.
  • Scalable growth and processes: Workflows help you create a more scalable, systematic firm. This, in turn, enables you to grow faster, run a smoother business, and (once you have everything flowing well) lets the business operations run on autopilot as much as possible.

Accounting Workflow Examples for Firms

I’ve compiled a list of 9 workflow solutions designed specifically for accounting firms so that you can have a better understanding of how they might be used in your accounting firm.

1. Client Onboarding

One of the most inefficient workflows I often encounter amongst firms is client onboarding as there is so much back and forth to get the client on board.

In this case, the ideal workflow would be to seamlessly get everything you need from the new clients in order to commence client work and integrate them into your usual service delivery workflows as soon as possible.

Tip: Set clear expectations upfront about what the onboarding process will look like with your new client and have a checklist in place for everything they need to provide you with before you commence any work for them.

2. Service Delivery

In order to offer any form of accounting practice, whether it’s bookkeeping practice or tax preparation, or everything in between, you’ll need to make sure you have a defined workflow solution that outlines how you’ll complete that specific deliverable from start to finish.

By doing so, you’ll ensure a consistent quality services experience across your accounting firm.

Tip: Over and above crafting general workflows for each service you offer, consider crafting more specific workflows on a client-by-client basis where each follows the same task templates so that work can be shared interchangeably between team members.

3. Recurring Task Management

Monthly, quarterly and annual tasks are abundant in the finance and accounting community. Many of these to-dos aren’t setup in a centralized project management software system for all team members to view, which means things can get sloppy fast.

Ensure that you have a workflow process in place to setup tasks in a piece of workflow software and that any recurring tasks are set to automatically recur.

Tip: Use firm management or workflow software. It becomes a hub for all of your critical tasks and workflows.

4. Sales 

I’ve spoken before about the importance of having a sales workflow so that you and your teams can increase your chances of landing new deals.

Tip: Incorporate refreshing yourself (or your team) on the sales process as part of the process itself. Review your ideal client profile, brush up on discovery call mistakes, and prepare as part of the workflow.

5. Marketing

Your marketing efforts should be no different than any other task in your accounting firms.

They should operate in a systematic organizational manner and each follow a specific workflow.

For example, if you write blog posts, what are the steps involved to create that blog post?

Tip: Think about each stage of the marketing funnel and how you attract potential clients and guide them to your services. Add regular tasks that improve your website and other marketing channels.

6. Invoicing and Billing

Yup, the way you invoice and the way you collect money is certainly an important workflow that needs to be considered.

Luckily, this workflow is an easy one to master if you have the right pricing and billing policies in place.

Tip: Use recurring subscription plans to the greatest extent feasible, and set up auto-billing workflow management software via ACH or credit card payments to automate the collection of outstanding balances.

7. Employee Recruitment

There are a series of steps that need to be followed before you can recruit someone onto your team.

For me personally, it includes:

  1. Posting a job
  2. Screening candidates
  3. Interviewing candidates
  4. Skill-testing candidates
  5. Submitting an offer

And with each of those steps, there are several sub-steps that will form your recruitment workflow.

Tip: While this workflow seems to have a large number of steps, with the right workflow software, you can automate portions of it, such as the screening process.

8. Employee Onboarding

This workflow refers to the steps required to get a new team member on board and up-to-speed so that they can quickly become a productive member of your team.

Flow Tip: Create a checklist of each particular thing you need from the candidate before they start and consider creating a (minimum) 2-week training schedule.

9. Client Termination

Firing clients is necessary for an accounting firm to maintain its good status on an ongoing basis. Ensure that you have a client management process in place for your clients to follow when they leave your accounting firm when the time comes.

Flow Tip: Ensure all your service deliveries responsibilities are complete before the client is removed from your systems and add this as an item to your workflow.

Executing Accounting Workflows in Your Firm

Even though I’ve said it a few times throughout this guide, a practice management software program, such as Karbon, Canopy, or Jetpack Workflow, will be a wonderful place to start when it comes to designing and structuring your accounting workflow management software system. Put one workflow in place after another, and in no time, you’ll have all of your business processes fully organized in your organization.