How to Evaluate Workflow Management Software

Don't be afraid to use the full trial period to decide.

By Jody Grunden

When evaluating workflow management software, it is important to evaluate your priorities and know what you want out of the system. It is also important to understand that there isn’t going to be an exact fit.

MORE: How to Profit with Workflow Apps | Why Process Is Key to Remote Work | Innovate for the Right Reasons | Creative Perks for Remote Employees | 10 Interview Questions for Unlocking True Potential
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After comparing options, make sure that the system you go with meets the priorities at the top of your list. Once the system is picked, it is important to spend time inside the system to figure out how your company is going to use it.
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How to Profit with Workflow Apps

Pixelated blue text "workflow" on binary code backgroundStop reinventing the wheel.

By Jody Grunden

As a business grows, it becomes necessary to systemize the processes in order to increase the team’s efficiency and deliver a consistent experience for clients.

MORE: Why Process Is Key to Remote Work | When the IRS and FBI Come Knocking | 5 Questions to Evaluate New Tech Tools | Traditional Benefits for Remote Employees | The Hidden Cost of Running a Distributed Company | How to Develop Your Leadership Team | 4 Ways to Bill Clients
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One of the challenges that comes with creating systems can be getting every team member on board with the process you want to put in place. For example, Joe may have one way of doing things, while Karen does them another way and Susie yet another.

Creating a system will likely require all of them to make some changes in their own day-to-day workflows.
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Why Process Is Key to Remote Work

Woman leading meeting, flipchart in backgroundIt benefits not only clients, but your team.

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By Jody Grunden

With the right people in place, empowered to work independently, and proper access to the tools that are necessary to get the work done, process comes next.

MORE: When the IRS and FBI Come Knocking | Cyber Security at a Virtual CPA Firm | Top Tech Choices for the Virtual Firm | Keeping the Right People on the Bus | How to Run Effective Leadership Team Meetings | DiSC Helps Remote Team Work Together Effectively
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Creating process is important in any business if you want to scale, but it is imperative when it comes to remote work. Process helps streamline things, reduces confusion and makes your team more efficient and productive.
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Automation and the Future of Accounting

Critical thinking is best left to humans.

By Jody Grunden

There’s no doubt that advancements in technology are changing the world, and the accounting industry is no exception. Technology is making us more productive, more efficient and more connected.

MORE: When the IRS and FBI Come Knocking | Cyber Security at a Virtual CPA Firm | Top Tech Choices for the Virtual Firm | Keeping the Right People on the Bus | How to Run Effective Leadership Team Meetings | DiSC Helps Remote Team Work Together Effectively | 3 Ways to Keep Client Files Safe from Security Threats
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On the flip side, it’s also taking over some of our jobs. This is a reality in the accounting industry that we cannot ignore. Technology is driving major changes for the future of the accounting world. We need to be aware of what’s happening and take strategic steps to advance along with these changes. Otherwise, we are going to be left in the dust.
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Three Tech Solutions for Protecting Client Data

Illustration of computer security threatsYou'll be happy you already have these when the IRS and FBI come knocking

By Jody Grunden

Have you ever been contacted by the IRS with the FBI involved? I can tell you from firsthand experience that it’s a bit alarming when that happens!

MORE: Cyber Security at a Virtual CPA Firm | Innovate for the Right Reasons | Creative Perks for Remote Employees | 10 Interview Questions for Unlocking True Potential | Toss the Org Chart for an Accountability Chart
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We were once contacted by the IRS because they thought our server had been compromised. When the field officer who came to our office asked to see our server, we explained that we didn’t have a server.
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Cyber Security at a Virtual CPA Firm

Woman sitting outside with laptop and smartphoneFile and folder sharing is just one complication.

By Jody Grunden

Working remotely has some great perks for the employees – flexible hours, no commute, casual dress and fewer distractions, to name a few. However, working remotely can also present some unique challenges when it comes to technology and security.

MORE: Innovate for the Right Reasons | 5 Questions to Evaluate New Tech Tools | Traditional Benefits for Remote Employees | The Hidden Cost of Running a Distributed Company | 3 Ways to Keep Client Files Safe from Security Threats | The Rise of the Virtual CFO
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Unlike a traditional brick-and-mortar office, when you work remotely, no one is going to walk into your home office and set up your equipment for you. Employees have to be willing and able to hook up all those cables, monitors and other peripherals themselves.
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Innovate for the Right Reasons

ROI illustrationEvaluate the effectiveness of existing tools vs. new options.

By Jody Grunden

Depending on your age, you may or may not remember Lotus 1-2-3. It was a hugely popular spreadsheet program back in the ’80s and early ’90s that was eventually taken over by Excel. If we had been “married” to Lotus 1-2-3 at that time, we may have gone out of business because we wouldn’t have been able to react fast enough.

MORE: 5 Questions to Evaluate New Tech Tools | Top Tech Choices for the Virtual Firm | Keeping the Right People on the Bus | How to Run Effective Leadership Team Meetings | DiSC Helps Remote Team Work Together Effectively | 3 Ways to Keep Client Files Safe from Security Threats
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This is the world of technology today. We have to operate under the mindset that what we’re currently using may or may not be around in five years.
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5 Questions to Evaluate New Tech Tools

Businessman looking at question mark sketch on the wallThey're shiny, but will they be effective?

By Jody Grunden

Whether you purchase a one-time software license or pay for a tool on a subscription basis, the cost of software can add up quickly. It’s necessary to conduct a thorough analysis of any new software program before you decide to buy it, and you need to constantly evaluate the effectiveness of the tools you’re using.

MORE: Top Tech Choices for the Virtual Firm | Creative Perks for Remote Employees | 10 Interview Questions for Unlocking True Potential | Toss the Org Chart for an Accountability Chart | How Core Values Affect Remote Work Culture | How ‘Tech Stacks’ Can Help You Standardize | Ready To Be a Virtual CFO?
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We have learned that we want to be sure we’re getting the most out of our software, that our tools remain the right fit for our needs and that they are cost-effective.
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Top Tech Choices for the Virtual Firm

Why we choose what we choose.

By Jody Grunden

The tools that are used by a distributed firm with remote clients are going to vary greatly from those of a traditional brick-and-mortar firm.

MORE: Creative Perks for Remote Employees | Traditional Benefits for Remote Employees | The Hidden Cost of Running a Distributed Company | How to Develop Your Leadership Team | 4 Ways to Bill Clients | Automation and the Future of Accounting | The Only Three Metrics You Need to Measure Staffers
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Every tool we consider or use has to be cloud-based. Nothing can be restricted to a single computer or location.
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Becoming the Innovative Firm of the Future

Illustration of cloud softwareHow standardized tech stacks can help.

By Jody Grunden

A large percentage of CPA firms in the U.S. employ fewer than 10 people. Leading CPA firms are becoming more consultative, helping companies with more than just financial reporting.

MORE: Creative Perks for Remote Employees | Traditional Benefits for Remote Employees | The Hidden Cost of Running a Distributed Company | How to Develop Your Leadership Team | 4 Ways to Bill Clients | Automation and the Future of Accounting | The Only Three Metrics You Need to Measure Staffers
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They are also helping companies improve their margins and advising on industry trends and pending regulations that may have an effect on business. Accounting is no longer just financial statements and tax returns, folks!
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Creative Perks for Remote Employees

Dog sleeping in home office as woman works at computer in backgroundEducation and tech stipends? Why not?

By Jody Grunden

In addition to the more traditional benefits, we also offer a few creative perks that I think our employees really appreciate, including an education stipend and a technology stipend.

MORE: Traditional Benefits for Remote Employees | Keeping the Right People on the Bus | How to Run Effective Leadership Team Meetings | DiSC Helps Remote Team Work Together Effectively | 3 Ways to Keep Client Files Safe from Security Threats | The Only Three Metrics You Need to Measure Staffers
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Education Stipend

We believe that continuing education keeps our team members sharp and ahead of the game. One of our core values is “curiosity” because we want our employees to always be thinking about how we can improve our services, become more efficient and do things better. We want people to think outside the box because we’re not a typical accounting firm, nor do we ever want to be one.
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Traditional Benefits for Remote Employees

Woman sitting outside with laptop and smartphoneIs skimping worth the cost in loyalty?

By Jody Grunden

Traditional benefits often include things that many brick-and-mortar office workers take for granted such as paid time off, health insurance and a retirement plan.

MORE: Keeping the Right People on the Bus | 10 Interview Questions for Unlocking True Potential | Toss the Org Chart for an Accountability Chart | How Core Values Affect Remote Work Culture
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Why do I say these are taken for granted? Well, some distributed companies may hire independent contractors to cut down on their expenses when it comes to “frivolous” things like this, but we believe in building a great place to work, and to us that means offering the kind of benefits that make employees feel secure and cared for.
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Keeping the Right People on the Bus

Illustration of different types of people connectedNot everyone will work out, and that's OK.

By Jody Grunden

There’s a common misnomer when it comes to retention and keeping people on the team. Retention doesn’t mean keeping every single person on your team forever.

MORE: 10 Interview Questions for Unlocking True Potential | The Hidden Cost of Running a Distributed Company | How to Develop Your Leadership Team | 4 Ways to Bill Clients | Automation and the Future of Accounting | The Only Three Metrics You Need to Measure Staffers
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Not only do you want to get the right people on the bus, but you also want to get those people into the right seats. We want Summit CPA to be a great place to work, and we want great people to be working here. However, we realize it may not be the right place for every person.
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