From Accounting Today Case Studies on Workflow

Published: 10/01/2012

Centralize, centralize!

Firm: Sally Lindberg & Associates / Clearwater, Fla.

Size: 14 staff in tax season/10 off-season

Product: Office Tools Pro

Commencement date: Fall 2010

On record: Controller Julia Rhodes

Challenge/objective: Despite being small, the firm’s tax practice was having difficulty tracking the flow of files and information, with no one having a set process or knowing who was working on what.

Amount spent: Approx. $5,000 with licenses and two-day training.

Process: The firm had struggled with workflow processes for many years, and at one point hired an individual to come up with some standard processes, but knew they needed more. Then in 2009 Rhodes attended the National Association of Enrolled Agents annual tax practice seminar, where she saw a demo on Office Tools Pro. She was very impressed and spoke to the firm’s owner, who had also seen the product at a previous conference but didn’t think Rhodes or anyone at the firm would buy into it.

Rhodes decided to call the Office Tools Pro representative she met to give a demo to some select staff members. “They were all blown away by what it could do,” she said, and the firm made the purchase shortly after.

The representative came to the firm’s office for training and to help set up workflows. It took an entire tax season of moving returns through the new processes for everyone to fully embrace Office Tools Pro.

Results: The product helped save time, but efficiency and knowing how paper is moved around and the status of projects was even more important. The firm was also able to centralize information that is shared among accounting staff, including project status and essential client information. “We are a small firm and it’s very important we have client information centralized, so if we need to make payroll tax payments or do any compliance work, a staff person no longer has to go to an office and pull documents; it’s now in a database with easy access,” said Rhodes. “Another nice thing is that a client will call and ask when a return will be done and the receptionist doesn’t have to chase down a file or staff member. They can now answer them in detail.”

Next steps: The firm would like to improve other aspects of its practice beyond just tracking paperwork. It is still figuring out where other inefficiencies exist in the firm and would like to use the system to abate them.

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