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Firm Operations

6 Tips for Better Firm Automation

Firm automation involves many concepts, including artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic process automation to improve profitability.


Updated 4/17/2023

In these uncertain times, every firm owner knows that evaluating what has worked and what hasn't is crucial to the success of their firm. It's time to look back and assess the strategies that have kept your firm moving forward and identify areas that need improvement. And one of the biggest areas that can help your firm improve overall is firm automation. 

If you've been experiencing productivity issues, you might want to consider implementing firm automation.

Automation involves various technologies, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotic process automation, that can help your business do more, faster, and with greater accuracy.

This will allow your team to concentrate on more valuable and profitable tasks, ultimately leading to better profit margins. 

The concept of automation might seem complex and technical- maybe even like something out of the future. Who needs machines doing your work when you have a capable and skilled human team right there?

Well, automation is really there to help improve the tedious backend work and eliminate errors so your talented team of employees can focus on the work they do best- providing fantastic projects.  

Firm Automation benefits (4)

Firm automation is not as difficult to grasp as you might think. At its core, automation simply means using technology to simplify and streamline your firm's processes. 

Tips for Better Firm Automation 

So, how can you start implementing firm automation?  

Here are some tips to get you started: 

Standardize Your Firm Process  

Many of the services you provide to your clients are the same across the board: the only difference is in the data, not the actual work itself.  

Theoretically, the way you and your staff work to complete these tasks should be the same for each client. Unfortunately, however, many firms fall into disarray – or at the bare minimum, less favorable workflows – when they let their clients dictate their processes.   

How does this happen?   

Some clients provide their data at various times, in different formats, or want different reporting, with different communication styles.  

By standardizing your processes, you’ll streamline those workflows, especially as they relate to repetitive processes.   

To get started, embrace technology that gives you the ability to standardize how you collect client documents, when and how data entry occurs, when and how client communication (reminders, alerts, and billing) occurs, and how tasks are assigned.  

You should also standardize the processes your firm goes through when onboarding new clients, handling period closes, year-ends, tax engagements and other functions.  

Firm automation makes work easier so you can put your focus and attention where it really matters.  

Require Clients to Use Cloud Accounting Systems  

There are hundreds of accounting systems on the market, and while you may not be able to force all your clients to use the system, you can at least require that they use an online system.   

There are several reasons for this:  

  • You’ll have immediate/real-time access to the data.  

  • You can set up automatic feeds of financial information from banks and credit cards.  

  • There are instant reconciliations.  

  • There are greater integration options with app marketplaces.  

This also gives your firm the ability to automate many of the everyday bookkeeping tasks you provide to clients.   

Implement Subscription Billing and Automated Payments  

We’ve grown accustomed to subscription-based relationships with many of our service providers, and the relationship between your clients and your firm should be no different.

Billing your clients a standard monthly rate for the services that you provide throughout the year has benefits to both you and your clients. The most notable are more predictable income throughout the year for the firm, and predictable costs for your clients, which are conveniently spread across the year. 

firm automation epayments

Having a subscription model will also help your firm focus on clients that need more than one occasional service, which prevents “slow seasons” and fosters growth around a base of stronger, more profitable clients.  

Subscription-based billing with automated payments also decreases the amount of time spent on AR tasks like invoicing and collections.  

Here are a few benefits your firm will receive from using an automated payment system like ePayments: 

  • Faster Payments: With ePayments, you can receive payments almost instantly, eliminating the need for clients to send physical checks or make wire transfers. This not only speeds up the payment process but also helps to improve cash flow. 

  • Improved Cash Management: ePayments allow you to monitor your accounts in real-time, giving you better control over your cash flow. You can quickly see incoming payments and know exactly when they will be credited to your accounts. This helps you manage your cash more effectively and make informed decisions about your finances. 

  • Lower Transaction Costs: ePayments are typically less expensive than traditional payment methods, such as checks or wire transfers. This can result in significant savings for your firm, especially if you receive large volumes of payments. 

  • Enhanced Security: ePayments offer greater security than traditional payment methods, as they are encrypted and transmitted securely over the internet. This helps to protect sensitive financial information from fraud and unauthorized access. 

  • Improved Customer Satisfaction: ePayments offer a convenient and fast payment option for clients, which can help to improve customer satisfaction. Clients can easily make payments from anywhere, at any time, without the need to write and mail physical checks or make wire transfers. This can help to improve client retention and attract new business. 

If your automated firm management software already as an ePayments feature, like BQE CORE does, then you’re in luck! If not, you want to look into getting firm automation software that gives you this option.  

Go 100% with Your Digital Interaction  

Although meeting with clients in person can be enjoyable and strengthen relationships, the routine business services you provide them should be 100% digital. Whether they are only a few blocks away or on the other side of the country, your clients should deliver all materials to you via an online portal or other digital process. Your communications are best handled electronically, as well.   

Why?   

Better record-keeping for starters. Digital communications are trackable and searchable. They are also quicker and less likely to devolve into long, friendly chats that sidetrack you and create new bottlenecks.  

Yes, it’s OK to get together with client friends occasionally, but not when it comes to real work processes. 

Train Your Team to Use Automation 

When you introduce automation into your firm, it's important that your employees understand how to use the new tools and processes effectively.  

Without proper training, the firm automation tools you implement may not be utilized correctly, or your team may not understand how to take full advantage of the benefits they offer. 

firm automation team training (1)

Here are some tips to help you train your team to use firm automation software effectively: 

  • Start with the basics: Ensure that your team understands the basic concepts and benefits of automation. This will help them see the value of the new tools and processes and motivate them to learn how to use them effectively. 

  • Provide comprehensive training: Provide training that covers all aspects of the automation tools and processes. This includes both theoretical and practical training, and hands-on experience using the tools. The more comprehensive the training, the better equipped your team will be to use the new tools effectively.   

  • Make training accessible: Make sure that training is accessible to all team members, regardless of their location or schedule. This could include online training, recorded videos, or in-person training sessions. It's important to ensure that everyone has access to the training they need to succeed. BQE CORE offers onboarding and training for clients, along with in-depth webinars that help you get more out of CORE. 

  • Encourage feedback: Encourage team members to provide feedback on the automation tools and processes. This will help you identify areas that may require additional training or support and can help to improve the overall effectiveness of the automation implementation. 

  • Provide ongoing support: Provide ongoing support to your team, even after the initial training is complete. This could include ongoing training, access to support resources, or additional coaching or mentoring to help team members continue to develop their skills. 

By investing in comprehensive training for your team, you can ensure that they are equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to take full advantage of automation, resulting in greater efficiency, productivity, and profitability for your firm.

Choose the Right Firm Automation Tools  

There are a variety of automation tools available, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Consider your firm's specific needs and requirements when choosing the right automation tools for your business. 

The right firm management software will help you better track engagements, staff productivity, and deadlines. Modern, AI-powered systems like BQE CORE automate most day-to-day firm and business management tasks, as well as provide streamlined and efficient workflows.  

BQE CORE also offers dashboards for keeping an eye on performance metrics, while simplifying time and expense management, projects, billing, accounting, and HR. And the machine learning and AI functions act as a virtual business analyst, giving deep insight into financials, comparisons, and business decision making.  

Firm Automation with BQE CORE 

Firm automation is not a one-time fix. Continuously evaluate and optimize your automated processes to ensure they are working effectively and efficiently. Regularly review the results and metrics to identify areas that may require further optimization or improvement. 

Ready to improve your firm's automation? Schedule a free demo today to try BQE CORE and see just how successful managing your firm can be.   

 

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