We all have a limited amount of time to get stuff done during the workday. But when you bill by the hour, every single second counts. Not only that, but you’re also hyper-aware of how much time it takes for your staff to complete the tasks assigned to them. If you contract with your customers to accomplish a project within a specific amount of time, but you’re constantly missing deadlines or unable to produce the agreed-upon deliverables, you will lose money — and your customers.
That’s the bad news.
But the good news is that, by keeping track of how much time your staff spends on each task, you can find opportunities to improve your processes and inject greater productivity into your workday. Below, let’s look at some of the easiest but most efficient ways to use practice management software to optimize your workflow.
The Importance of Analyzing Your Standard Operating Processes
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of doing the same thing over and over again, simply because this is how you’ve always done it and it works. Most of the time. Sorta. But what if there’s a better way of reaching your objectives?
This is why it’s crucial to regularly assess what you’re doing and decide if it’s the most effective way to go about it.
Fortunately, you don’t have to guess if what you’re doing is working or not. You can let the data inform you. And this is where practice management software comes in. Among other features, it allows you to track time.
Time tracking sometimes gets a bad rap.
But keep in mind that the goal of time tracking isn’t to micromanage your staff so that they feel a constant, nagging sense of urgency. This will only increase stress and anxiety levels among your team and eventually lead to burnout. That’s a no-no if you value your employees’ mental health – and your productivity levels.
Instead, time tracking gives you the ability to see if your team is on schedule with the realistic deadlines that you’ve set. It also increases your team’s ability to focus on the tasks at hand. Finally, time tracking encourages everyone on your team to prioritize their schedules so that deliverables stay on track.
If you want to grow your business, you must commit to continually improving your processes. Remember that even what works can be optimized to work even better.If you want to grow your business, you must commit to continually improving your processes. Click To Tweet
Here’s how to use practice management software to identify areas for improvement:
1. Assign Tasks to Your Staff
Once you have a project, it’s crucial that you slice your project into manageable tasks and then assign each task to members of your team. Be sure to set a due date for the task, too. If the task requires a lot of steps, it may be useful to set multiple deadlines, one for each step. This way, you can keep your staff accountable and on track. It will also help you identify which tasks aren’t complete by the deadline and need additional oversight.
With your practice management software, you can quickly manually filter tasks to determine what may be overdue or in danger of delay. The system can also automatically notify you and the necessary staff members of a task that needs immediate attention. This way, you will be able to rescue a project before it disrupts your customer.
2. Automate, Automate, Automate
Are you doing tasks that should be automated? If you’re not automating at least some of your daily tasks, you’re probably wasting a lot of time that could otherwise be put towards high-priority tasks.
Your practice management software can be used for automation, too. For example, this software can automatically import your customer data, eliminating the need to manually input data again. This type of automation can reduce redundancies in your work process.
Additionally, your practice management software can automatically populate your project with customer data from the previous tax year. This can eliminate human input mistakes and ensure that your information is error-free.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, practice management software can automatically track the time you spend on each customer or task. This way, neither you nor anyone on your staff will have to input this information manually. This ensures that your billable hours are logged accurately.
3. Track Your Billable and Non-Billable Hours
No matter how efficient you are, there will always be tasks that you can’t bill a customer for. These are costs that your growing business will have to eat. These hours may be filled with team meetings, office management, recruiting, invoicing, and employee training. It includes all of the administrative tasks you need to do to operate your company. But just because these hours can’t be billed, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be tracked.
On the contrary. You can and should track non-billable hours to identify what tasks you perform on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis. Then, you can use this data to cut down on lengthy, non-profitable, or disruptive practices. By doing so, you can make room for more customers as well as optimize the time you spend on projects.
4. Identify Bottlenecks
When tracking time, you can clearly see which steps in a task may be causing a hiccup in your workflow. It’s crucial that you identify these bottlenecks so that you can make a plan for how to power through these slowdowns as quickly as possible. This may mean assigning more people to accomplish the task, or pushing back the deadline for the task to a more reasonable time.
5. Provide Clarity for Your Customers and Your Team
When you charge customers by the hour, you need practice management software that is easy to use and will also provide a clear understanding of what you’re billing your customers for.
This is beneficial for both your team and your customers.
Software ease of use is important for your team members. If your practice management software requires an extensive amount of manual input, it can feel like another cumbersome task for your team. But if you choose a software that makes it easy for them to track their hours and the tasks they’re working on, it can become second nature.
This will do two things for your staff members: First, it will increase task accountability. Second, it will give your team members clarity into what they’re actually doing each day. This can spark them to improve their own daily workflows, and may also present opportunities for you to help your team members to improve their processes.
Clarity is also important for your customers. When you use an independent practice management software, you can present the report to your customers so that they can see exactly what they’re being charged for. This can reduce the number of billing questions your customers may have because they’re able to see how you’ve been using your time to solve their problem.
6. Improve Your Future Cost Estimations
As humans, we tend to be overly optimistic about how long it will take us to complete a task. That can be a problem when a customer asks you to provide an upfront estimate of how long it will take you to complete a task.
Fortunately, your practice management software can help you with this as well.
After you’ve used practice management software for a while, you’ll get accurate insight into how long it actually takes you and your staff to complete a specific project. You can then use this information to make more precise and detailed projections for future projects.
Practice management software doesn’t only keep track of your billable hours and services. You can also use this software to identify areas for improvement within your team and to reduce redundancy.
If you’re looking for a practice management software made specifically to meet the needs of accountants and CPAs, look no further than Mango Practice Management. We have over two decades’ worth of experience solving time management dilemmas for accountants. Request a Demo – MangoPractice
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