How to create an effective workflow for your bookkeeping practice
As your bookkeeping practice grows, having organised workflows for regular tasks can help you operate more efficiently. This can not only reduce stress but allow you to offer a better service to your clients. Here are some tips for setting up the perfect workflow for your practice.
What is a workflow?
A workflow is a series of steps to follow in order to get a particular task completed. A bookkeeping practice might create workflows for regular tasks such as client onboarding or preparing tax submissions, for example. By listing the steps involved in each task - and allocating these to team members, if you work with others - it’s simple to track progress.
Why are workflows important?
Bookkeepers often have to juggle several tasks at once, so breaking each one down into clear, manageable steps can help to ensure that nothing is overlooked. A well-organised workflow can help you to automate repeatable tasks, give you a bird’s-eye view of your practice workload and improve collaboration within your team.
Working more efficiently should in turn give you more time to focus on growing your practice - for example, by considering your marketing strategy or reviewing the way you communicate with clients.
How to set up a workflow
Bookkeeping workflows will look different for each practice, as much will depend on the size of your team and the services you provide. Here are some tips to help you create a tailored workflow for your own practice.
1. Make a list of your tasks
We all have our own methods of keeping tabs on our work, whether it’s writing bullet points on sticky notes or typing up daily tasks in a document. The good news is that these can form the basis of a new workflow. Depending on the services you offer, your practice may benefit from creating individual workflows for tasks such as processing payroll, preparing tax submissions or onboarding new clients.
Once you have all your work laid out, it can be helpful to sort these into weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual tasks. Remember also to include things that your clients are responsible for - for example, if they have a deadline to send you financial information.
2. Build the workflow
To start off with, sort the steps in each workflow into chronological order, then identify who will be responsible for completing each step and how long it will take to complete.
You can use a spreadsheet or project management software like Trello to record the workflow and make this accessible to your team. If you’re setting up lots of workflows for a larger practice, you may also want to explore dedicated practice management software.
3. Decide what to automate
Simplifying repeatable workflow steps with automation could help you to reduce mistakes and cut down the time spent on these tasks. Consider how technology could help with time-consuming jobs such as retrieving opening balances, invoices, bills, bank transactions and VAT information from clients.
Cloud-based accounting software like FreeAgent can make it faster and simpler for clients to share their data with you, and you’ll both have access to their financial information from wherever you are. It can also help with explaining clients’ bank transactions in bulk, running reports across your client base and setting up alerts to help you keep on top of key client deadlines and activities. Practice management software like Senta can integrate with your accounting software for improved visibility of projects and further automation.
You may also want to consider how you communicate with your clients. It can be tedious to write the same email over and over again, so think about creating some standard templates that you can copy and paste when you need them.
4. Review and optimise
Once you’ve created a bookkeeping workflow, it’s not set in stone. Remember to regularly review your workflows, as using them in practice might highlight steps that are more time-consuming than you first thought. Looking at your workflows regularly will help you to identify trends and see whether there are any opportunities to automate more tasks.
Looking for more great tips? Join us at Bookkeeper Boost Week, a series of events from 13th to 17th June to help you re-energise your bookkeeping practice.