When the world changed in 2020 and workers were sent home to do business just as they would have at the office, professional services firms — like accounting firms — became virtual overnight. It’s safe to say that this situation is decidedly more “unique” than most. Offices were empty, lights off, and businesses started to operate exclusively via the power of the internet for collaboration, communication, and business operations. For some it became their biggest advantage and for others, their largest liability depending on the digital transformation decisions they had made.
There is no one size fits all approach — no single, authoritative blueprint — for managing a virtual accounting practice, so you’ll have to consider all decisions within the context of what you’re trying to accomplish to make sure you’re always headed in the right direction. Having said that, there ARE a few basics for effectively managing an accounting practice that has gone virtual that you’ll absolutely want to be aware of moving forward.
The Virtue of Anytime, Anywhere Access
By far, the most important step that you can take to effectively manage your virtual accounting practice involves giving your employees anytime, anywhere access to the information they actually need to do their jobs in the most efficient way possible.
More often than not, this will require the use of an intelligent information management platform like M-Files — one built with mobility, flexibility, and scalability in mind.
Think about it like this: in an era where more people are working remotely than ever, your employees should have the ability to be just as productive in their own homes as they could be in the office. But if information is still siloed off in various departments and repositories and applications, this isn’t just difficult — it’s downright impossible. Likewise, failing to have a system in place that gives you visibility into document changes, that helps avoid duplicate files and that stops information sprawl hurts your goal instead of helps it.
But with the right information management platform by your side, you are in the best possible position to accomplish all of these things — essentially all at the same time. At that point, all of the barriers that used to exist are broken down entirely and your employees can finally work smarter, not harder — no matter where they are or when they need to do it.
Automate, Automate, Automate
Another one of the best ways to effectively manage your virtual accounting practice involves automating processes whenever possible. This is another area where an information management platform like M-Files will have a huge impact on operations.
When it comes to business processes, 60% of occupations could save 30% of their time with automation. Some of these tasks that could save time include generating sales leads, approving paperwork, and processing documents. Every minute that your employees are spending on mundane, manual administrative tasks is a minute that they’re not focusing on developing those important relationships with your clients. These tasks may be important, yes — but they can also be automated with the right tech-based solution.
This in turn frees up as much of their valuable time as possible so that they can focus the majority of their attention on those jobs that actually need them.
Superior Workflows for Superior Results
Another one of the best practices that you’ll definitely want to follow involves making the flow of information across your organization not just easy, but seamless.
If people within your business are going to truly communicate and collaborate with one another, they need access to all of the same information at the same time. But if Department A and Department B are using two different solutions and there is no way to move critical data and insight from one platform to the other and back again, they’re essentially working with two totally different sets of tools.
They may work well individually, but they lack the ability to become that cohesive whole you need them to be. This is yet another way that an information management platform like M-Files will prove its worth, almost immediately. Not only can information flow freely across your enterprise, but organizational leaders also have total insight into who is changing what, when and even why.
Pricing Your Services the Right Way
Finally, one of the critical ways to effectively manage your virtual accounting practice involves making sure that you’re pricing your services correctly in the first place.
Pricing impacts just about everything that you’re doing — from the amount of money that you’re able to bring in from clients over time to the amount that you’re able to pay your staff. Your financial structure — and your pricing model — must be set up in a way that allows you to make a profit. If it isn’t, you need to adjust, and you need to do it sooner rather than later. By driving efficiency with an information management platform, you’re able to do more with less and thus offer more competitive pricing or stretch your profit margin a bit further.