Clarence Darrow once said, "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one most adaptable to change".
The same applies to Chartered Accountants (CA) in practice. Technology advancement has been changing the working pattern of CA firms in last few years. It cannot be denied that new laws and regulations are opening a galore of opportunities for CA's, but each opportunity has its own set of challenges. While compliance is nothing new for CA's, but heightened due diligence coupled with increased penalties and ever-changing due dates have been an increasing concern for professionals.
In this2-partseries article, I share my thoughts on how CA's can efficiently manage their practice using office management solution. The 1st part covers the need & benefits of office management software and 2nd part deals with considerations for choosing a perfect vendor for practice management solution.
Need for office management software
Effective task and compliance management
CA firm is involved in multiple compliances for multiple clients amounting to thousands of task. Thus, in the absence of a robust tracking system in place, it is quite possible to miss out a task given the pressure under which CA's usually operate. A CA practice management software will ensure that all tasks are taken on record. Interactive and self-explanatory dashboards and timely alerts for resuming work are yet another cherished features which compel the need for a software.
Efficient file organisation
Data is the heart and soul for any CA firm. Organising data has gained immense importance in today's era because of sheer volume of data that flows in on a daily basis. In a CA firm, it typically takes more than 2 minutes to navigate to the file/folder containing the data on which a team member has to start working. Office management tool will help in reducing haphazardness of organising data by creating a link between task and file/folder.
An optional cloud-based storage serves as Plan B if the main data get corrupted and also ensures that data can be accessed from anywhere & at any time. Some software even provide option to allow clients to download these files; thereby saving time of team members in retrieving and sharing with client. Amongst the various software available, Jamku is the only software which provides both the options.
Receivables Management & Effort Estimation
Managing receivables determines the financial success of a practicing firm. At times, firms get so busy in completing the tasks and meeting deadlines that they forget billing the clients or collecting payments from them. Also, it might happen that the client may request for a service other than those mentioned in the contractual agreement. Although he agrees to bill it separately, firm might forget to bill or lose track of the actual time that was taken in completing the task and thereby under calculate the bill. Thus, it becomes very important to keep a track of the receivables of a firm.
E.g. When Mr A visits CA for accounting and GST return filing, CA would estimate the amount of efforts and fix up the fees. Later after 6 month as A's business increases, so does efforts for accounting and GST return filing. This is when practice management solution comes to the rescue as knight in shining armour and helps in identifying the increase in efforts by giving a comparison of time and cost with previous periods.
Password Sharing and Sensitive Information Dissemination
Confidentiality is an important aspect of CA-client relationship. Clients share numerous passwords with their CA and expect it to be kept secured and confidential. In best case scenario, only person who is actually filing the return should know the password and that too only for a limited time when he is working on client's task. Firms can also decide the team members to whom client's sensitive details (e.g. â€“ Aadhaar number) shall be visible.
Jamku is one such software which allows you to exactly do this and further even automate hiding password& sensitive information once the task is completed.
Benefits of office management software
Most of the solution providers also have a mobile app, so access on the go is much easier in this era where many team members are always on the move. Team members can plan their work while commuting to office and fill timesheet on the way to home. Thus, being more productive in office hours. Further, being cloud-based means data can be accessed at any time and from anywhere
Instead of taking decision based on hunch, reports can be drawn from the software and decision can be drawn based on actual facts. These reports provide a bird's eye view to top management aiding quick decision making. Interactive charts help to visualize the progress of tasks. These kind of dashboard is never possible when managing tasks using Excel.
Better team management
Human resource is the most important resource for a CA firm. The team dashboard gives an idea as to which team member has how much work on his hand. This helps in work allotment among team members.Further, the timesheet reports help in tracking efficiency. Team members can collaborate remotely to accomplish a task.
Support any practice size
Small to midsize offices will find it is very easy to integrate such software into their practice. Office Automation & Task Management has now become a child's play wherein you can create & assign your tasks by mere mouse clicks. Larger firms will find partner wise and branch/department wise reporting to be really useful.
Especially designed for CA's
CA's task management needs are unique to their profession. Hence, generalised task management tools like Trello, Asana, Wunderlist, Microsoft team, Evernote are not a perfect fit for CA's. These general tools do not have features which are essential for practice management like - Digital signature management, Client's Password access protection.
According to many studies on efficient office practices, automation of operational activities results in increased productivity. When any office management software is implemented in its entirety, productivity can go only one way - high up. Once implemented, it holds great promise in terms of improving overall efficiency for the CA firm.
To conclude a CA firm can be managed without software as well, but it would be time consuming and highly inefficient. The modern era requires CA's to be on their toes to provide exceptional client service. Though harsh it may sound, but a CA firm cannot grow without an office management software by their side.
Implementing practice management solution is not a new phenomenon, sso far firms have been deploying such software for reaching new heights and envisaging new horizons, the time is not far when we will need this kind of software for mental peace and survival.
About Jamku Office Management
Jamku is an online office management software, primarily designed keeping in mind the needs of Chartered Accountants, Company Secretaries, Tax Consultants. Since 2013, Jamku has revolutionized the practice of many CA's across India and helped organize and scale-up. Being a software for CA, it has all the features you need to manage like compliance, tasks clients, passwords, digital signature and many more.