Creating Your Tech Stack to Deliver Advisory Services

Practice Management technology for tax professionals

tax advisory workflow

To be efficient with our time, provide advisory services and give expert advice to our tax and accounting clients, our firm focuses on specific industries and software. For example, I focus on contractors and real estate investors that use QuickBooks®, while others work with medical professionals, land developers and spec home builders who also use QuickBooks. For tax preparation, we use Intuit® ProConnect™ Lacerte®, as well as eSignature for documents.

Our company mission is to help business owners gain and keep financial control, and guide them to strategically pay the right amount of taxes each quarter. We charge a set fee, per quarter, for a bundled service that includes controller and CFO services, and tax planning. The CFO work includes advice and consulting services on various topics:

  • How to review and read financials.
  • How to use a dashboard (that includes important numbers and ratios) to make good decisions.
  • Comparison of industry averages to company numbers.
  • Advising the CEO to create annual income projections.
  • Creating an annual budget.
  • Advice on tax saving measures.
  • Paying the right amount of taxes each quarter.

Our Firm’s Tech Stack

The technology we use to get the job done includes the following:

#1: Cloud computing: QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop (in QBox) are easy for us to access when we are ready to start our quarterly review process.

#2: The TSheets by QuickBooks app to track our time by client and type of work. Here’s how we enter our time:

TSheets Time System

 

#3: A Microsoft Excel checklist that is customized specifically for the client. This spreadsheet checklist helps us verify that all bank accounts, credit cards, loans and other items were reconciled properly, and no old transactions are lingering around as unreconciled. It also reminds us to verify that accounts receivable, accounts payable and payroll transactions are accurately recorded. Here’s an example of a partially completed end-of-quarter accounting checklist. Each time a task is completed, the completing employee enters the date completed and their initials. Notes in red help to remind us why the item on the checklist isn’t complete or if there was a problem that came up.

 

#4: Financial reports get exported from QuickBooks into an Excel workbook, one tab per financial report.

#5: A dashboard is added to the first tab of the workbook that:

  • Highlights and graphs important numbers, percentages and ratios.
  • Includes industry averages.
  • Compares industry averages to their numbers.

Most small business owners love this page because it helps them understand where they stand, and how they compare to other businesses of the same size in the same industry. Here’s a typical dashboard (clickable PDF) we use to give a client a quick snapshot of where their numbers end up at the end of each month. This presentation is exceptionally helpful to our visual clients.

#6: Projections are updated and compared to actuals, and added to a separate tab in the same workbook. Business owners in certain industries, such as remodeling contractors, interior designers, home builders and net entrepreneurs like colorful representation of numbers and graphs. If you work with clients that are good with numbers and don’t need colors and graphs, you may be better off giving them a standard budget vs actual report. Here’s a typical projections/budget vs. actual spreadsheet for a remodel contractor with an annual projection of $3 million in sales.

#7: We email the business owner the Excel workbook and a Calendly link, letting them know it’s time to review the financials and we’d like to set up a meeting. Calendly is a calendaring app that makes it easy for our clients to compare their accountant’s calendar with their own, and choose a time that works best for both parties. Calendly syncs with our Google calendars and reminds us 30 minutes before we are scheduled to talk to a client, and again five minutes before the meeting.

Email Template

#8: Since most of clients are located outside of our geographic area, we use Join.me to enable our client to connect with us in our office for a meeting on our screens. When they connect to our computers for the meeting, we know we are looking at the same thing at the same time. We not only go over financials and give them financial advice; we also use the scheduled meeting time (generally one hour) to connect and ask about future plans, goals and changes they anticipate in the next quarter, including personas changes if we do their individual return. Having this knowledge can cut down on research and implementation time; you will think of them as you learn about current procedures, new tax rules and even business opportunities that fit their goals. Here’s what they see when we share screens:

Web Meeting Example

#9: During the meeting, our accountants type up notes in the notes section of the Excel workbook about things that were discussed and action items to be taken. The notes include things like:

  • Large ticket fixed assets that will be purchased before year-end.
  • Advice given to the client based on their financials.
  • Changes to budget or projections.
  • Call to action items.
  • Explanation of events that have happened that affected the numbers that need to be kept in mind for future reviews.

#10: Right before the meeting ends, the accountant emails the entire workbook, including the notes from the meeting, to the client.

That’s how we do it at our firm, but we know the process and tech stack is different for other firms, depending on your niche, number of staff and other factors.

Comments (5) Leave your comment

  1. Thank you for taking time to respond. Billing weekly has become my default as well. As a sole proprietor (so far handling all my own admin), I’m not always consistent and have left some WIP longer than I would like. Adding administrative staff will help me tremendously. Appreciate your willingness to share your processes.

  2. Ms. Mitchell,

    Thank you so much for sharing this information. I have practiced on my own for 10 years, but I am just adding two staff and putting new systems in place for all of us to share what has always been in my head. This information will be very useful. I’m wondering, since you also use Tsheets for time tracking, if you have found a way around the fact that you can’t close time on a completed project and send it to QuickBooks Online for invoicing until the end of the timesheet period (for me, next Monday). I usually want to bill projects when I complete them, not next week. I haven’t found a work-around, have you?

    1. Hi Ms. Clark,

      You are welcome. We use QuickBooks Desktop for our internal accounting and bookkeeping, but I know QuickBooks Online functions the same way when it comes to time tracking. The way we invoice time is following this process: 1) The manager of each department approves time in TSheets every Monday morning, and 2) Our Billing Specialist invoices our clients each Tuesday.

      Time flows into QuickBooks as soon as it is approved in TSheets. 90 percent of our customers are billed on a fixed price basis, so most of our time is not billable. It is tracked, so we can get profitability by customer and profitability by employee reports, but is not marked as “billable.” If we perform work on a special project on a per hour basis, the time is marked as “billable” and is ready to invoice as soon as the manager approves time. We don’t invoice mid-week because that messes up our process. We wait and invoice all hourly jobs each Tuesday.

      Hope that helps, thanks.

  3. Hello Ms. Mitchell,

    I’m having a hard time seeing your #5 Dashboard report. Would you mind emailing me a larger example of that?

    Thanks for the great article!

Comments are closed.