It feels like tax season just ended, and yet the next one is right around the corner. This is the time of year when I like to evaluate and determine what went well during the freshly ended tax season and prioritize what needs improvement for the next one. January is much too late to figure it all out! We have such a short window of time to get it together.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller
Tip #1: If you need to hire someone, sooner is better than later.
Right now, I am having to deal with things, I feel, much too late. My firm, by leveraging the power of the cloud, grew – and grew fast. I should have hired my employees sooner than I did. The shift of some of the workload off myself would have allowed me to focus on the things that are important in keeping my clients. Hiring when you must throw new employees into the deep waters right away is not a good time to do so.
Tip #2 Know your workflow
If tip #1 is to delegate, it would be a good idea to know what to delegate and have a clear record of it somewhere. Somewhere shareable would be good and in a format that can be replicated easily would be preferred.
Tip #3 Communicate
Mistakes happen when there is not enough or the right kind of communication with, and between, your team. When I don’t communicate well with my team, the cost is my time, and usually lots of it. When team members do not communicate together, work gets duplicated or missed. Communicate ahead of time, rather than after it has happened. Use a platform that everyone can see the same information. Meet with them virtually or live, and share your expectations for the upcoming tax season. Update workflows and priorities with them. Listen.
Tip #4 Educate
The better educated your team is, the better the chance the team will wow you during the heat of the moment. Things go well when they know what to do, how to use the tools needed for the task and what their role is in the whole process. Did you know the Intuit® ProConnect™ Group offers webinars throughout the year on various topics? If you haven’t looked at the webinars yet, I highly recommend doing so.
This year’s offerings are absolutely fabulous! I schedule these for me and the team to watch together. We can all see and learn about the latest program updates, what’s coming up in the software and even get the latest tax developments for the upcoming season. I also use this time of year to encourage attendance to live events and other enrichments, like becoming a QuickBooks ProAdvisor®.
Tip #5: YOU
Probably the most important element here is you. Look at the big picture and your role in it. Is it more important for you to be the conductor of your orchestra or every single instrument? I am constantly updating myself all year long so I can be the one directing when it comes time to perform. When something is clear in my mind, I can properly communicate whatever it is to my team. I also make sure that my instruments are in tune and ready to play.
I really love being in the cloud. There are so many things I don’t have to worry about. I assign users and permissions to my team and I am done. The access to the necessary tools such as Intuit ProConnect Tax Online and QuickBooks® Online Accountant, and the access to the data, is complete. This time of year, I make sure that all is well on this front. There is nothing worse than a team member unable to work on something because I forgot to open the permissions.
With the new section called “Work” in QuickBooks Online Accountant – part of Practice Management – I can now communicate better my priorities, procedures and workflows. I set up Projects with little checklists inside the feature and assign them to specific team members. Practice management streamlines processes more efficiently so tax season and year-round projects run smoothly.
There is one more thing I like to do this time of year: listen. What were my team’s pain points and what can be done to ease them? I want to arm them with the best tools to succeed – and I believe this is vital. To have a successful tax season, we do have to play together as a complete orchestra; only then can the melody will be harmonious.