Due to the advancement in software, automation and cloud technology in the field of accountancy now has a requirement to constantly update its skills in order to best represent its clients.
Courses that help you gain awareness and either introduce or enhance your expertise are a good use of your time and will reap future rewards. An accountant’s role includes a lot of administration with regular exchanges of large amounts of information; this can create a tricky workload to manage. To be an effective accountant, having a few tools at hand will help provide a valuable service to all your clients.
There are many software apps, smart tools and courses available that are designed to help with the day-to-day work of an accountant and to improve skills. We have listed some of the tools and courses that we think will help reduce an accountant’s workload and improve the service their clients receive.
1. Audit data analytics software
Audit analytics empower accounting firms and provides an intelligent data analytics system that automatically analyses whole data sets, providing information and identifying anomalies and risks. This enables better understanding of data and provides insights of value to clients. It’s a tool that enables accountants to improve audit efficiency and quality, which will add value to its service by producing high quality audits.
An example of audit data analytics software is caseware.
2. File request software
Extracting timely information from clients can be tricky but important if there are HMRC and companies house deadlines to meet. Finding what’s appropriate in amongst a pile of documents and randomly sent emails can also be time consuming and frustrating.
There are a variety of different technologies which can help that have varied functionality, from those that deal with the simple requests for files to be uploaded to more comprehensive systems that include collaborative features.
File requests make it easy to collect documentation, even when there are vast amounts of it. Requests are summarised in easy to manage dashboards with automated reminders, saving significant amounts of time chasing information. For an accountant dealing with hundreds of clients all of this can now be managed without having to send any emails. Clients are more likely to send information quickly when these tools are used as it is now easier for them to see what is needed and when. This saves time that can be spent on developing and growing the business and to reduce the workload pressure.
Some examples of file request software include: huddle, SmartVault and suralink.
3. Collaborative software
Email is great for sending messages but not the best tool for collaborating with lots of people. An overflowing email inbox can be overwhelming and a time-wasting effort to sift through.
Collaborative software enables the sharing, processing and management of files, documents and data with other users, enabling communication with clients that every interested party can see and allows team members to share workload and contribute to discussions. Messages are held centrally and are easy to find so are less likely to get missed, lost or accidentally deleted.
Instant chat and video technology is great but can interrupt work flow and waste time. Tools are available to organise written communication into threaded discussions with questions, issues and updates. The process of communication becomes less stressful and more considered as immediate response is not necessary as the content will get lost.
These tools are easy to use, with common design and functionality specifically designed to encourage client engagement.
Some examples include: Slack, Flanty and Flock.
4. Workflow software
Receiving regular and recurring information from clients in an easily collated format can be difficult as clients often use a format of their own choice, be it email, phone or spreadsheet.
Workflow management tools address this issue and streamline business processes, boosting efficiency by reducing human error.
Automated tools can perform lots of repetitive, menial tasks without introducing errors, ensuring completion of specific tasks that would otherwise require a lot of human input. Many of these tasks can now be fully automated making the streamlining of business workflows easier and by using online information request forms the format of the information can be controlled. Workflow enables information to be acted on straight away, it won’t get lost and there is less opportunity for human error.
Workflow software providers include: IBM Workflow, Adobe Workfront, zapier, monday
5. Task Management technology
Without a system to prioritise client workload it can be difficult to ensure that deadlines are met. Task management technology makes it easier to manage workloads and allocate the resources required to complete them. Used for audits or tax returns, it can easily handle thousands of clients, where there are a series of actions to complete within a specified timeframe.
Some examples include: Clickup and monday.
6. Communication Skills
Interpersonal skills are one of the greater predictors of success in business. Accountants are often required to present information to clients and colleagues in an understandable way so the ability to effectively communicate in business is essential. All accountants will benefit from having good communication skills.
Continuously improving ways to communicate is vital. The ability to listen, learn and interpret the requirements of clients will lead to good and long-lasting customer relationships. Regularly attending courses designed to improve communication skills specifically in the role of an accountant will reap rewards for both the individual and the company.
Places to find relevant courses include: Reed and CIMA.
Keeping up to date with compliancy in accounting is extremely important to ensure that financial reports for businesses adhere to current laws and regulations. Failure to do this can result in penalties for an individual or a company and as rules and regulations can change, regularly attending courses in compliance will help ensure awareness of the processes and procedures that are needed for recording and verifying financial transactions.
Places to find relevant courses include: Reed and LCGA.
Novuna doesn’t recommend a particular supplier, it is advised that companies carry out their own independent research first.