When you’re the head of an accounting firm, you’re not just an accountant anymore.
You’re now a business leader and have to shepherd your team through various projects. That means keeping track of deadlines and deliverables, troubleshooting obstacles, and ensuring that your team has sufficient support and resources. And on top of that, you still have clients that need your time and skills.
But there are useful tools to help you overcome project management challenges. Project management software, along with some general know-how of managing people and meeting their needs, can help you overcome common issues faced by accountants in project management.
Keep reading to learn about four common project management challenges and how you can solve them at your firm.
1. The Challenge: Difficulty Communicating
With so many different methods of communication these days, it can be difficult for employees to effectively collaborate on a project. There are typical methods like phone and email, but also more modern methods like internal messaging platforms or social media. If you try to communicate using too many options or the wrong ones, it’s easy for your team to miss important information or get confused about the status of works-in-progress (WiP).
Email, in particular, can be an enormous time drain. The average professional spends 28% of their workday reading and answering emails. That’s about 2.6 hours per day. To communicate best, you need to get your team off tedious communication methods—and onto something more streamlined.
The solution: Use project management software designed for collaboration
Project management software makes it easy for accountants to check in on the status of a project and share pertinent details. Every unfinished task on an entire project can be viewed in a project dashboard. Instead of having to email people to update them on projects, customize your workflows in your project management software.
Team members receive an email when a new task or project is assigned or if work needs to be reviewed. They can also see what other people are working on (if they have permission to do so), so they don’t need to update each other via email or a meeting on the project status. Working this way saves hours in a work day that would have otherwise been spent combing through emails looking for the latest news on WiP.
2. The Challenge: Adapting to New Changes for a Project
While tech can be a great way to help people communicate and simplify tasks at your firm, all the software in the world can’t help your firm if people don’t use it.
Even though accounting firm software is the way of the future, people are hesitant to change. When your employees have to make a big shift in their workflow, they may initially feel incompetent using the new tools or feel uncomfortable about how the tools will affect their workflows.
The solution: Make sure your employees are updated and educated
Let’s face it—we all want to be kept in the loop and understand why (and how) changes are taking place. That’s why it’s so important to get ahead of your employees’ concerns and questions.
When you want to implement a change in a project, schedule time to discuss updates to processes, procedures, or goals. Talk them through the changes to be made. Be sure to emphasize how the change improves your employee’s workday and makes their job easier to do. (And make sure they have plenty of opportunities to ask questions and share concerns.)
Also, make sure you have the resources for a smooth transition with the change. For example, if you’re implementing new software, take a look at the training resources available. Book training sessions and workshops on how to use the software so everyone feels comfortable with it. Put the time in to make sure everyone is on the same page.
3. The Challenge: Inaccurate Budget Management
Unless you plan out the work far in advance, it’s easy to go over budget on a project. If you don’t have the systems in place to help you calculate how much time a task takes, you won’t know how much to budget for it. Budgeting isn’t just a matter of managing dollars, either—how much staff time a project requires is mission critical for using your team’s time wisely.
The solution: Time-tracking software
To improve budget management so that you don’t overspend, it’s crucial to use time-tracking software. Use multiple timers to see how long certain tasks take. This information allows you to better estimate the time and staff power needed for different projects.
Analytics are powerful tools for understanding your budget. Analytics can use the data from your time-tracking to break down how much time was spent on different tasks, for both billable and non-billable hours. The more data you have, the better you can plan out your projects in advance to stay within or under budget.
4. The problem: Controlling the Scope of a Project
With any project, there’s a possibility that things will go off the rails or become unmanageable. Unless you outline the work ahead of time with a client, it’s easy for them to take advantage of your firm and expect more than you agreed to.
While client work may pay the bills, internal projects are also important to manage effectively. Internal projects help your accounting firm grow, develop or improve services, and create a better workplace. (But just like client projects, scope creep can happen just as easily.)
The solution: Setting expectations
To control the scope of your projects, set up meetings with clients or internal stakeholders to discuss expectations. (With clients, this should always be done before contracts are signed.)
Make sure that it’s clear:
- What steps will be taken
- What work will be completed
- What timeline will be set
- How issues will be resolved
- How you will communicate with one another
Once the project is underway, it’s important to track tasks daily to ensure that you meet deadlines. If you notice team members starting to fall behind, check in with them to see what’s causing the issues. Notify clients well in advance if you need to make changes to the original schedule.
As you complete projects, look for opportunities to automate workflows in the future. If you’re likely to undertake similar work again, set up task templates in your practice management software so work can be assigned in a consistent manner with no extra effort from you.
Overcome Project Management Challenges with Mango Practice Management
As an accountant, you have different practice management needs than other professionals. That’s why Mango was made by accountants, for accountants. It’s designed to meet all the unique project management challenges experienced in our field.
Mango offers critical practice management tools, including:
- A comprehensive project dashboard to break down the project into actionable tasks
- Project templates in our master library—or you can create customizable ones to suit your firm’s needs
- Access to our tools from anywhere with our mobile app
Mango knows it can be difficult to get your team on board with new tech. That’s why we offer free, unlimited data migration and training. Our support team will help implement the software and ensure your accountants are comfortable using it.
To see why our clients say Mango is the best software they’ve ever used at their practice, schedule a demo with us today.
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