What kinds of technology did you use for tax season other than Intuit® ProConnect™ Tax Online, Lacerte®, ProSeries® or another tax program? Better yet, how did these technologies make your practice more efficient?
We decided to chat with several tax professionals to find out what their favorite technology was for tax season. Here are their responses:
Bruce Andersen, CPA, AndersenCPA Firm
I would like to tell you that I have found a wonderful, single purpose whiz-bang technology: Google Sheets. The truth is that I have used Google Sheets for several years to track all of my tax processing. I just want a list that I can sort in several ways to give me immediate results, and at the end of each tax season, I review the list to make improvements. Every December, I duplicate the file and clear all registers. Here is the construction of the workbook:
- One worksheet for each type of tax return (personal or S Corporation, for example).
- In each return type:
- Client name
- Comment field
- Appointment date
- All data received
- Date entered
- And all steps of the processing, from e-file sent and e-file verified. Each one is a date field.
- Near deadlines, I will add columns for the next five days and order the returns to be done by “A,” “B” “C.” This allows me to make a reasonable workload for throughput of the office per day.
Generally, I update the list every night. I will sort and filter the report for the next day’s work, then print and post in the office as well as at each preparer’s workstation. This allows staff to come in each day and immediately get to work. With limited choices for them to make, they can get right to work!
I am sure there will be readers of this article who will want the list on their cell phone or toggle to it on their computer. Think what you like, but it is really, really hard to have any better focus than a “to do list” on the wall at your workstation.
Hal Rosen, CPA, RFBM
Outside of Intuit® ProConnect™ Lacerte®, our most important technology is Office Tools. We use it to track approximately 1,500 tax returns through our complete process so that none get lost. We scan all documents into the e-file system that is part of Office Tools. We have our defined process system set up in Office Tools, and when a team member completes a task, it prompts them to enter their time and assign the next step in the process to another team member.
We fine-tuned the process after the first tax season we used it, and now it works very well. At any point, if a client calls to ask about the status of a return, we can quickly see who has worked on it, where it is, and if we’re waiting on items, what those items are. We also use the Office Tools Portal to upload the tax returns to clients and send an invoice that can be paid online.
Scott Sloan, CPA, and Kessla Sloan, SKYsmb
Our team has a pretty solid tech stack and several apps we just can’t live without; we have an essential app/tool for every aspect of our business and rely heavily on them during tax season.
Hardware: Chromeboxes + Two Monitors
Our team functions entirely in the cloud. We use Chromeboxes because they provide great security, and you don’t have the many issues and virus threats that come with a desktop PC. We have three Windows 10 desktop PCs we refer to as legacy computers in our office that we access remotely through the chromeboxes as needed. Everyone in our office also has at least two monitors to help maximize workflow.
Trello is a kanban-style organization and workflow tool, and we’ve maxed it out. We use it in just about every available way to make it fit our business and work style. Each tax return is a card with detailed checklists for every part of the process; that’s how our small team completes so many tax returns. We don’t have to think about what to do next or worry about losing track.
Communication: Slack and Google Hangouts
We use Slack mostly for internal communication, notifications, app connections and the wonderful slackbot who reminds us of everything we have going on! Google Hangouts is the platform we use for chat with clients. It makes us more accessible during busy times when phone calls aren’t always possible.
CRM and Billing: Acuity Scheduling
Acuity Scheduling is a great cloud-based program with an impressively responsive support team. Acuity constantly innovates and offers a lot of add-ons that make setting appointments, paying online and customizing appointments a breeze for our clients.
The All-Encompassing Tool: G-Suite
We use everything in Google’s G-Suite: Chrome OS, Google Sheets, Google Docs, Google Drive, Hangouts (see above), Gmail … and even Google Assistant at times. All of these applications are fast, effective, safe, and most important, cloud-based. We can access anything, anytime from any device with data or a Wi-Fi connection. This lends us the all-important flexibility our profession needs!
Editor’s note: What’s the favorite technology you use for tax season? Leave us a comment below to share your feedback with others.