Top Apps That Will Maximize Your Time This Season

Practice Management, Workflow tools Start Your Own Tax Practice

Time’s up. Tax season is here.

Wait – that was the opening line to part one of this series that included the Intuit® ProConnect™ solutions I recommend for tax season. Soon into writing that article, I discovered there were so many other apps that help me throughout my day, so I decided to venture out and pen part two before the virtual ink dried up on the first piece.

Slack. I’m not sure where Slack came from, but there’s no doubt it’s here. As a product specialist and cloud consultant, I get so many questions around this application. Customers want to know how it works and what its integration with QuickBooks® Online Accountant Work accomplishes. I have used the Slack app on my iPhone and Mac for about a year and have to say that I can’t imagine my work-life before Slack.

Around the office, we use Slack for collaborating within and across functional teams, as well as for community announcements for groups and events. We also rely on Slack for deadlines, troubleshooting, one-on-one communication and even for project tracking with WorkCast. I especially enjoy the ability to write with emojis and gifs, which tend to liven up conversations and animate messaging. At forums, tax accountants have shown me how they’ve integrated QuickBooks Online Accountant, Slack and Outlook (via the SLAM app) for workflow management – and it’s impressive. So, the next time you need to know how an audit is coming along, where your team is on closing the books for a partnership return, or just want to take a quick minute to send a silly message to break up the day, consider Slack.

Pro tip: Progressive firms are finding ways to use Slack to communicate with young entrepreneurs. Consider adding an outward-facing client channel in Slack to eliminate email, text and document portals. Your new business owners will appreciate the seemingly anytime, anywhere access to your expertise, as well as the one-stop shop for information sharing. You may enjoy an increased perceived value and the higher margins that accompany it.

Grammarly. How is something focused on writing related to tax accounting? Whether accessible by smartphone or web browser, the Grammarly app steps into my workflow several times each hour to make my writing error free and more professional. Or, as Grammarly puts it, “Compose bold, clear, mistake-free writing with Grammarly’s AI-powered writing assistant.”

The beautiful thing about the app is that you can cut and paste your writing into their webpage and watch it go to work immediately by calling out contextual spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure and style errors. There’s even a setting to stave off plagiarism if you write white papers or articles. My recommendation is to use the Chrome extension to assist with email and social media. I use Grammarly to scrub articles, to shore up text such as webinar descriptions, and for emails, especially those that are customer-facing or going to senior leaders.

ExpressVPN. If you travel even just a few times a year, this one’s for you. How many times have you been out on a client visit, in an airport finalizing a presentation or at the local coffee shop catching up emails? The bad news is that if you are using public Wi-Fi to do any of those things, your data is at risk. Consider adding a virtual private network (VPN) to your device. Without getting too deep into the technical woods, a VPN will hide your IP address and location, further encrypt your data transmissions with 256 bits, and protect your device from snooping and interference. Short of living off the grid, no solution is 100 percent hacker proof; however, the bad actors tend to go after softer targets, so make yourself a harder target by adding a VPN to your arsenal.

Adobe Creative Cloud. I’m going to step off of the worn path for a bit to ask my entrepreneurs and forward-thinkers a question: How are you currently increasing your presence, broadening your reach and (most importantly) adding value on social media during tax season?

Social brand and market awareness don’t stop just because you’re heads down trying to figure out the ins and outs of tax reform, so if your answer was anything short of a well-articulated, confident and strategic reply, we have some work to do.

Social media marketing is an ever-evolving and yet-to-be-fully-emerged market teeming with possibility and just waiting for you to draw out additional revenue. If you don’t believe me, take a moment, hop over to YouTube and search “unwrapping toys.” Children are making millions unboxing new toys! For tax accountants, social is still very much in its infancy. With that in mind, if you’ve been wondering how to quickly turn videos captured on your smartphone into more professional looking deliverables, take a look at some of the resources tucked insides of Adobe Creative Cloud.

For video content creation, YouTube and LinkedIn banners and thumbnails, Instagram photos, and more, I use Adobe Lightroom CC, Rush CC and Spark Post. Lightroom allows me to take and edit pictures in RAW, which is a massive plus for helping my photos stand out online. Rush CC is the new mobile app for Adobe Premiere Pro. It can take my iPhone footage and create titles, add transitions between clips and even add music for emotional emphasis. Spark Post allows me to create stunning graphics, banners and invitations in mere seconds. Use any one of these tools to step up your game online or combine them to stand out from the crowd.

Pro tip: Mastering your brand online is no longer just an option. Acceleration in technology is commoditizing many facets of tax and accounting. The future is all about how we leverage our expertise to add value to our clients’ lives. If you haven’t already started a dedicated channel for video tutorials or vlogging, consider adding a video section on your website right away. If you’re not sure where to start, check out my article on video 101.

There you have it. I’m still interested in learning more about the apps you love, so leave a comment below, or let’s connect on LinkedIn. I would enjoy hearing from you!

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