For Accounting Firms in the US:
How To Increase Staff Productivity and Save 10 Hours a Week In The Next 30 Days

Written by Brandon Gray
In this article, I’m going to walk through how to drastically increase your firm’s productivity and save your staff an average of 10 hours a week in wasted non-billable time in 30 days.  This will free up your time to focus on growing your practice and delivering awesome service to your clients.

But First, Some Quotes From Firm360 Customers

“I estimate that we save 100 clicks per individual tax return compared to how we were doing things before”

-Betsy (Banks, Gray & Crumpler)

“We have saved a tremendous amount of time in client discussions, copying files, pushing paper, and especially invoicing”

-Amanda (Moore & Spivey, CPA, PA)

“We are more efficient with our work, we can streamline processes, project out schedules and foresee heavier workloads.”

-Marian(Holloway Millikan CPAs)

Hundreds of Users Are Saving Time With Firm360

Who is this for?

This article is for accounting firms in the US who are looking for ways to increase their productivity.


If you want to increase staff productivity and free up your time so that you can grow your firm, you are in the right place.

If your goal is to grow a successful and valuable accounting firm, this article is for you.

If you just always seem to be too busy with daily tasks to find time to focus on improving your business, then stick around.

Do you have nightmares about missing a deadline for one of your clients? Is your staff turnover rate high because they are always stressed out and busy? 


Read on to discover how to regain control of your firm.


Who is this NOT for?

If you are happy with your firm’s current processes, if you get your work done with minimal stress, if your staff are able to comfortably serve the clients without working overtime, then this article may not be a huge benefit for you.  

If you are a solo firm and you aren’t yet experiencing the pains of managing a team to provide service to your clients, then you may not need this article right now.


Let's get straight to the point

You can achieve a high level of productivity for your team and free up your time to focus on serving your customers, using proven project management techniques, combined with software tools that automate the mundane tasks.

However, if you use the wrong techniques or combine the wrong tools, you will just wind up wasting time and effort and money and not be any better off than when you started.

We are the only team with deep industry experience and a laser like focus on helping accounting firms in the US streamline their processes and regain control of their most important asset - their time.

How it all started...

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Brandon Gray, and I have been a CPA for 15 years, and  I am a partner at a CPA firm in North Carolina.

A couple of years ago, I was growing more and more frustrated with the clunky, disjointed tools that we were using to run our practice.  I had a desire for a more efficient, all-in-one practice management system that would allow us to increase our team’s productivity and free up time to focus on delivering awesome service to our clients.

I searched high and low for the right tool for our firm, but nothing I found moved the needle.

Finally, in 2019 awoke with a jolt and sat straight up in bed with the idea that it was time to build a solution to this problem.  I partnered with Clay Lehman who I knew from a mutual business contact and we began working on what would become Firm360.  After the initial rollout, our firm was enjoying massive productivity and realization improvements over previous years.  It wasn’t long before colleagues started asking about the system, and if we thought it would work for them, too.  That is when we knew we were on to something big, and began the journey of turning it into a company. 

Now our mission is to share what we have built with other firms so that we can help them be more successful.

3 Steps To Save Your Team 10 Hours of NonBillable Time Per Week 

Step 1: Implement Project Management Best Practices

Using project management best practices will streamline your practice workflows. Saving your staff time and giving management visibility into projects so they can stay on schedule and on budget.
The Old Way.
Currently, you might be carrying a folder around the office with the client documents and notes in it.  Keep a checklist stapled to the front of the folder with the actions that must be done.  When you have finished your part of the job, walk to another office to hand the folder off to the next person.   Other firms track their projects and deadlines in one very complex spreadsheet.
The Old Result.
This is very time consuming.  Management has no visibility into project status.  This does not scale as your firm grows. This process is prone to missed deadlines, human error, and lost files.  If someone is out sick, the whole process comes to a stop.  
The New Way.
You can use a digital project tracking system to keep track of project statuses and assignments.  Digitally hand off projects between team members.  Build a dashboard view for management visibility.  Staff have their own dashboard so they always know what to work on next. Store documents paperless and have a system for finding the documents you need.
The New Result.
Your team will save time handing off projects between team members. You will gain the ability to work remotely when needed. Everyone on your team will know what they should be working on. Managers will have visibility into project statuses and can identify issues sooner. No more missed deadlines. Your staff will have access to the documents when they need them and won't have to go looking for them.

Questions

Who to assign the project to when I finish my part?
An in progress project should always have a responsible party assigned to it.  Some teams try assigning all jobs to the Partner in Charge, but then the projects get lost in the noise.  At any given time, there should be a person who is responsible for making sure the project moves to the next step.  If that step is assigning the work to another team member, then someone can be assigned as the “router” and their job is to take any projects assigned to them and find and assign the project to the appropriate team member.

What happens when I have too many open projects?
We’ve all been there.  It’s the middle of tax season and you have 95 open projects, all due in the next 30 days.  How do you decide what to work on next?  The best approach is “first in first out” - sort the projects by the last time they were touched and work on the one that has been sitting the longest.  Get your part done and get it off your dashboard.  Then look at your sorted list again and do the next one.

Do my staff want me looking over their shoulder that much?
You might be worried that having visibility into all the firm's project statuses could be considered “micro-managing.”  I don’t think that is the case.  When you prepare a tax return, you get a second team member to review it, it’s just best practice to implement checks and balances to make sure that all of your projects stay on schedule and no deadlines are missed.

Step 2: Track Time and Bill Clients More Efficiently

An integrated system for tracking Projects, Time, and Billing can increase billing accuracy and save a ton of time.

When it is easy for staff to track their time as they are working, they will do it, and the resulting data will be more accurate.  When your billing system can automatically generate invoices based on client engagements, projects, and time entry, it saves you a ton of time.  It also increases accuracy because it isn’t dependent on anyone’s memory

The Old Way.
A lot of firms have very manual processes for tracking your time and invoicing clients.  The billing process requires partners to know what everyone is working on and what client billing arrangements are in place.
The Old Result.
This results in time tracking omissions. Staff enter all their time at the end of the day or week and very likely mis-remember some things. It is a very time consuming process to generate monthly invoices. The process is prone to errors because it is dependent on a partner’s knowledge/memory.
The New Way.
The better way is to use a time and billing system that is integrated with the project management system, so that you can quickly/automatically generate client invoices.

The New Result.
With this approach, staff time tracking is more accurate because it is easy for them to enter so they do it as they are working.  The amount of time spent running monthly invoicing is drastically reduced.  Accuracy of resulting invoices increases.

Questions

What if my staff do not consistently track time?
You cannot properly analyze the realization of your firm without data on what your team is doing.  You have to get everyone to buy in.  The best way is to have an integrated system that makes it so easy to track your time, that it is harder NOT to track your time.  The team will do it if the process makes their jobs and lives easier.  You can also create bonus structures based on time/revenue/productivity numbers.  This incentivizes the team to track their time and to work on the most important things.

What if we don’t currently track time?Some firms don’t track their time.
That is fine when you are small.  You can just have all fixed fee clients and hope that you come out on top at the end of the year.  As your firm grows, you need to know that your staff are doing a good job, and the best way to do that is by analyzing their productivity.  You can also create bonus structures based on this information.

What about clients where we bill a fixed monthly fee?
A good time and billing invoicing system that was built for the accounting industry should understand the common billing options.  One time fixed fee projects, Monthly fixed fee clients, Time and materials clients, you should be able to configure clients for all of these scenarios so that generating the invoices is just a matter of simply reviewing for accuracy and hitting “Send”.

Step 3: Send/Receive Documents, Collect Signatures, and Collect Payments - All Digitally

A digital client experience will save your team loads of time, make your clients happier, and reduce outstanding balances

The Old Way.
The old way requires you to print final documents for the client who must come in and sign them.  Then you mail them an invoice, and request them to mail in a check for payment.  If a client needs a copy of a document in the future, they have to call in and request them from you.
The Old Result.
This is a very time consuming process for delivering finished products to clients and collecting signatures and payment.  It is also inconvenient for your clients.
The New Way.
Use a Secure Client Portal to provide a fully digital experience for the client. Clients can sign forms digitally, pay the invoice online, and access the documents on demand in the future as needed.
The New Result.
This will be easier and less time consuming for the client, therefore making them happier. There will be less time required by staff for delivery. The client is more likely to pay their invoice right away.

Questions

How do I get my clients to use this portal instead of just calling me?
There are lots of tricks.  You can put a link on your website.  My favorite trick is to put a message and a link in the bottom of my email footer.  Here is what a client normally does: they open their email, and search for my name to find my phone number in the footer.  When they pull it up, right below the phone number it says “Access your documents without even picking up the phone!” and there is a link to our secure client portal.

Won’t my clients forget their passwords and have to call the office anyways?
No.  You need to find a secure portal where the authentication mechanism is based on things they know instead of arbitrary passwords.  Let’s face it, the client will just choose “Password2021” if we make them set a password anyway, right?

What if the client wants paper invoices/documents?
Well there is no reason not to offer that service for some clients, but it is worth asking because it is way easier to click “Pay with card on file” instead of finding your checkbooks, writing a check, going to the store and buying stamps, then putting the payment in the mail.

What about older clients that don’t want to use technology?
They will surprise you.  My grandma has an IPhone and uses Facebook.  You’d be surprised what someone is willing to do to gain access to pictures of their grandbabies!  If some clients can’t handle it, no problem, you can accommodate it, you can still gain some of the benefits of automation by putting your front desk staff’s email in as the clients email and they can print/mail invoices as needed.

Summary

So all you need to do is:

1. Adopt and formalize your project management best practices

2. Integrate your practice management system with your time tracking and invoicing processes

3. Give your clients a secure digital experience for interacting with your firm

 

And you can increase your team’s productivity and save them an average of 10 hours of non-billable time per week.


How can I accomplish this?

Now there are many options for project management, time and billing, and client portals.  Any of them will solve the individual problems that we have identified in those areas.  

You have a few options:

Option 1: You can do it yourself, you will need to research each type of tool, and figure out how to connect the different systems.  This will take at least 3 months to implement, will be very expensive, and will still be more difficult for your staff than a single all-in-one platform.  Your team may forget which system to use for which part of their job, and managers will need to combine data from multiple sources to get full visibility.

Option 2: You can use a generic all-in-one solution for project management that isn’t specifically tailored to your needs as an accounting firm.  This might work but you will likely run into features that just don’t quite work for your needs, and have to come up with workarounds for each of them.


Option 3: You can use Firm360 All-In-One Practice Management Solution to handle all of these use cases in a single, integrated platform, saving your team a ton of wasted time and effort.


Who this is for

Case Studies

Hundreds of people are using Firm360 everyday to manage their practice and streamline their workflows.  They have achieved fantastic results in terms of increased productivity and reduction in wasted non-billable hours.  Here are some quotes we have received recently from our users:

Banks, Gray and Crumpler was able to increase their average staff output by 25%, measured after being on the platform for 90 days.

Amanda at Moore & Spivey, CPA saw huge amounts of time savings after the first 30 days on the platform and said “Firm360 seemed to accomplish all of our objectives with one product – it literally streamlined everything from document management, portals, staff management, and invoicing.”

Janet at Peerless CFO Services is very happy with their decision to move to Firm360. She said “We never imagined getting such wonderful support help when we signed up with Firm360, but it has been a blessing for sure!”

Benefits and Outcomes

Here’s what is going to happen when you move to Firm360:


You will streamline your processes and save your team an average of 10 hours a week.

You will regain visibility and control of your firm and reduce your stress levels.

You will finally have a handle on behind schedule projects and missed deadlines.

You can forget about spending hours and hours each month billing your clients.

You will find the work/life balance you long for.

You will feel empowered, confident, and motivated.



So how does it work?

Feature 1: Project Management

Before, when you wanted to figure out what your team was working on, you would have to email everyone, build up a spreadsheet, and have regular meetings to get status updates from each person.

But now, you can use our simple Project Management features and this information is always visible and right at your fingertips. 

A 10 person firm can easily spend $5,000 a year on a solution to this problem, and not get the same results.

Look how easy it is:

Feature 2: Time and Billing

Before, your staff had to go into a separate system to track their time. It was clunky, and they often forget to enter time throughout the day and just throw in some guesses the next morning for what they worked on. 

But now, they can quickly and easily track their time as they are doing the work saving them time and increasing the accuracy of your data.  In addition, you can quickly and easily review the time and generate the invoices in a fraction of the time.

A decent time tracking system can cost you another $3,000 per year.  

Feature 3: Document Management

Before, you probably stored and located client documents in one system, then had to transfer them to a second system to get the clients to sign them, and a third system to deliver them to a client portal.

But now, with our Document Management solution, you can accomplish all this in a few clicks without leaving your primary practice management system. This saves your team time and prevents human error.

A document management system and client portal solution will easily cost you another $5,000 a year, and working between the 3 systems will always be a pain point.

Look how smooth it can be with Firm360:

Feature 4: Other Features
But that’s not all.  As your All-in-one Practice Management solution, we have some other features that you will find necessary to run your firm. 
Advanced Reporting - Know exactly how everything is going in the firm.  
Integrations - Sync data with solutions like Office365, GMail, QuickBooks, UltraTax, Bank Statement Fetching, and more to make your life easy.  
A system to provide this functionality will cost you another $3,000.

Our Offer to you

Now if you wanted to get the job done before by using multiple different tools it would cost a 10 person firm $25,000 or more.

Firm360 is a fraction of that. Here’s what you get:


Client Management. 
This will allow you to keep track of all your  client related data and notes and communications. 
This is valued at $5,000.


Project Management.
This will allow you to manage all your project workload, allow you to have visibility into what your team is working on, and drastically increase team productivity.
This is valued at $5,000

Document Management.
This will allow you to keep all of your client documents organized, easy to find, and always available.  It also allows electronic signatures, securely client send/receive documents, and more.
This is valued at $2,000
Time and Billing.
Track your time and efficiently generate client invoices.  Charge monthly clients automatically.  Allow everyone else to view their invoice and pay online.  
This is valued at $5,000

Secure Client Portal.
Give your clients the ultimate control.  View their documents any time.  Securely upload their documents so that you can serve them.  View and pay invoices.
This is valued at $5,000

Advanced Reporting and Integrations.
Advanced reporting to give you ultimate visibility into your firm and the ability to analyze how you are doing.  Integrations so that your data is right where you are, right when you need it.
This is valued at $3,000

Instead of paying $25,000, we are offering you all of this for a fraction of that.

All you need to do is Book a Call and we can get you started right away.
Book a Demo

Act now to take advantage of this offer

We take customer service extremely seriously.  We want to make sure you are successful.  

We are only taking on 20 new customers each month to make sure that we can give you all the attention that you need.  

So make sure you grab your spot before we fill up.

Risk free guarantee

Of course we back everything up with a risk free 45 day money back guarantee.

Meaning if we don’t deliver on our promises, you don’t pay a dime.

Summary

So let’s summarize this offer:

You get:

  • Client Management
  • Project Management
  • Document Management
  • Time and Billing
  • Client Portal
  • Advanced Reporting and Integrations
  • Free Onboarding, Training, and Support
  • 1 free Right Signature user license
  • 30% off our normal pricing, for life.

We only take on 20 new customers each month, so act now to make sure you grab your spot before we fill up.

Everything is backed by a risk free 45 day money back guarantee.


All you need to do is Book a Call now to get started now.

Book a Demo

Frequently Asked Questions

We know you have questions. We would love to answer them on a call with you. Here are the answers to some questions that we hear frequently.

Firm360 is a relatively new company.  How do I know I can trust you?
We have hundreds of people in the accounting industry who use our software every day to run their firms.  We have been building software products for various industries for over 15 years.  We have a lot of great customer case studies you can read to see how our existing users feel.  We have a 45 day guarantee so if after all that you don’t like us there is still not much risk.

How do I know that my data is secure?
We take security very seriously. We follow all the best practices for data security and have deep experience in that area.  All data is encrypted and we provide two factor authentication for logging into the platform.  Our platform is hosted by Amazon on the same servers that run all of their systems as well as most other software on the internet these days.

We have achieved a CSA STAR Level 1 security assessment. This compares our platform against industry best practices.

You can read more about of security and back procedures here: https://www.myfirm360.com/security

If I decide to leave, can I get my data out?
We own the platform, you own the data. Period.  If for whatever reason you decide to leave Firm360, we can provide you with an export of your data and client documents upon request.  

What is the onboarding process like, and how long does it take?
Once you decide to move forward, we will set up your firm on the platform within a day and you will receive an invite to activate your account, along with an invoice for the initial payment.

We will schedule your first kickoff call within 1-2 days.  This will give your core team an overview of the platform, go in depth on the topics you need to get started.  Then we will schedule 2-4 more weekly calls as needed for your team to get the most of the platform as we work through the various phases of the rollout.

We will walk you through exporting your client list in a format that can be imported into Firm360 and usually have that completed before your first call, so the training calls are with your actual data.

Can I migrate my existing client data?
Yes.  Within the first couple of days we will walk you through exporting your client data from your current system in a format that can be imported into Firm360.

Do you have any customers my size?
Yes.  We probably have customers your size.  We have everything from 1 employee solo firms up to some pretty large firms.  We can point you to a case study based on the size of your firm after the demo if desired.