How can you take better care of existing clients of your accounting business — while also finding time to market to new clients? The right technology for accountants will help you provide great client service while also growing your accounting business. Project management (PM) and customer relationship management (CRM) software can help you accomplish both of these goals.
Here’s a closer look at what PM and CRM software can do for your accounting business, and some of the most popular software for accountants.
Project Management Tools for Accountants
Project management tools provide features to help you handle projects and clients. You can find options that work whether you’re a sole proprietor or managing a small team. Good PM software should work as well on mobile devices as on desktops, and be able to help you accomplish the following tasks:
- Create budgets by client or project
- Assign clients, projects and tasks to other team members
- Schedule due dates and track progress
- Connect and communicate with clients and team members
- Securely share and store documents, spreadsheets and more
For a small accounting business, cloud-based PM solutions make more sense than installed solutions. They allow you to access powerful tools at subscription-based pricing, and can be scaled up and down as your business grows. Here are some popular PM programs to consider.
Asana: Simplicity is Asana’s claim to fame — the app promises it’s as easy to use as making a list or sending an email. You can use Asana to create projects and groups; view the status of projects on calendars or as lists; and search for tasks by task name, project or people involved. It’s easy to create templates you can reuse for similar projects, such as onboarding new clients or auditing financial statements. Asana syncs across computers and mobile devices and integrates with more than 100 third-party apps, including Salesforce, Google Drive and Dropbox, so it fits seamlessly into your accounting business’s existing workflows.
MS Planner: Do you use Microsoft 365 for your accounting business? If so, check out MS Planner, Microsoft 365’s visual project management tool. Use it to create a new plan, build a team, assign tasks, and update project status. Each plan has its own board, so you can see at a glance where things stand. Categorizing tasks, updating statuses, or changing task assignments is as easy as drag-and-drop. Because it’s built to work with Microsoft 365, MS Planner makes it easy to attach files to tasks, collaborate on those files, and have conversations about tasks without having to switch between different apps. Planner works across all devices, and you can receive email notifications every time a change is made that affects you.
SherpaDesk: Described as a “Swiss Army knife” for professional services, SherpaDesk is all-in-one Professional Services Automation Software. It includes much more than just project management: SherpaDesk also has tools for invoicing and billing, asset management, data reporting, time tracking, and help desks. The time tracking feature is a useful way to capture billable hours for accurate invoicing, and the invoicing solution integrates with QuickBooks, FreshBooks and more. As for project management, you can create client profiles and projects, collaborate and communicate with your employees and clients, create to do lists and assignments, and track who’s responsible for what. For some accounting firms, this could be more than you need; for others, it could be the answer to your prayers.
CRM Solutions for Accountants
If you’ve got project management under control but still struggle with generating new business, investing in a good customer relationship management (CRM) solution can help. CRMs help keep track of your client leads, needs, accounts and interactions. Here are three popular solutions, each with a robust mobile component so you can access information anywhere.
ABLE: This CRM tool was developed with accountants in mind. The folks at ABLE know you have limited time to devote to business development, so it holds you “accountable” using dashboards that keep you focused on the activities essential for profitable growth. ABLE helps you identify your most important clients, learn more about their needs, and proactively manage those relationships. For example, it tells you what content to deliver to which client at the right time so you can cement your position as a trusted resource. ABLE also provides the tools you need to conduct client surveys, attract new business opportunities, and adapt your sales style to different client needs.
Method: CRM: Created specifically for accountants and bookkeepers who use QuickBooks, Method offers a centralized system for lead and client management. Method lets you embed a custom contact form on your website and then import all the inquiries the form generates directly into your CRM. It automatically schedules activities reminding you to follow up with these leads, and tracks your interactions with them. Once a lead becomes a paying client, all of their info syncs over to QuickBooks with the click of a button. You continue to use the Method dashboard to manage their data, and relevant information syncs directly to QuickBooks so you don’t have to enter it twice. Method also offers free client portals that let your customers view and pay invoices online, integrates with MailChimp to create and manage email campaigns, and more.
Salesforce Essentials: Salesforce is a market leader in providing sales tools for larger companies — and now they have a CRM offering tailored just for small businesses. Salesforce Essentials is designed to help your business grow with tools to simplify selling. For instance, the app tracks emails, calls and meetings automatically from your inbox activity, so there’s no need for time-consuming data entry. You can also integrate data from your calendars and spreadsheets, and manage all the customer information you need from one screen. Best of all, the Salesforce Essentials platform can be customized to suit your needs as your accounting business grows.
Are you already using one or more of these tools — or other PM or CRM solutions? If so, please share your experiences in the Comments section.