This might sound a little counter-intuitive... But automating client communication, and more specifically client emails, can be hugely beneficial to...
10 Tools to Improve the Consistency of Your Accounting Firm’s Processes
All the tools you need to improve the consistency of your firm's processes.
Standardisation has always been crucial to accounting. “Murky” corporate accounting practices have long been known to hurt the performance of large companies over time. Even a shift to new accounting standards can cause blunders. Simply, when processes aren’t clear and consistent, it becomes near impossible to spot errors.
But standardisation should also go beyond reporting compliance, even for smaller companies. SMBs increasingly expect advisory and insights along with standard tax and reporting services. The savvy accounting firms we talk with are standardising their general business processes to keep up with the level of communication their clients expect.
Let's explore 10 tools that can help you create the standards you need to deliver consistently high-quality and accurate work for your clients.
10 Amazing Accounting Standardisation Tools
As there’s a broad range of ways that you can standardise your practice, we’ll cover a wide range of tools as well. From asynchronous video to productivity and task management tools, it’s ideal for building a tech stack that best fits your standardised workflows.
Loom is a great option for standardising the messages you send to customer segments while keeping your communications a little more personal at the same time. Its combined webcam and screen recorder are perfect for a variety of communications, from onboarding clients to training videos for your internal team.
When all team members ask the same questions about internal processes, this is a good sign you need to provide greater clarity and support. Loom’s commenting features let viewers comment on specific timestamps in the video, creating an automatic Q&A when there’s a training video that everyone has questions about. Loom can also be used to create a database of video resources for clients, whether you’re supporting their onboarding or helping them complete a task.
When you need to show your clients something more in-depth than balance sheets and cash flow reports, it’s good to have a process that lets you send consistent reports each time. Syft integrates with accounting software like Quickbooks so you can share critical fraud detection and forecasting reports with clients.
Syft can also help reduce risk, using machine learning to detect anomalies in financial information. This feature can help you ensure that you’re sending clients error-free reports that don’t need to be amended later.
Xama can help you standardise AML checks during client onboarding. New clients get a link via email where they submit all their identifying information, and Xama verifies and stores it in one place.
This tool also lets you schedule recurring compliance checks when needed and has built-in AML policy and procedure guides to help you get new team members up to speed. Although it’s a specialised tool, Xama integrates with practice management software so you can integrate your AML checks into other workflows.
Like Syft, Tableau is a data visualisation tool that can help standardise more sophisticated reports, with templates of dashboards that offer high-level overviews of complex datasets. It’s a robust tool which allows you to display data in a wider variety of ways than Syft, though it’s also not as user-friendly.
That said, this is a great platform for anyone offering advisory services to large corporate clients who have a lot of data to work through. Since Tableau’s so versatile with added advisory support, it could also be a good choice for industry-specific accountants that need more specialised reporting options.
Pixie (that’s us) is practice management software that’s great for standardising client communication and team workflows. With a CRM tool, task management, client portals, integrated e-signing, and email management features, Pixie can help you standardise the broad strokes of your accounting services.
We also integrate with a variety of tools, including Loom, Xama, Gmail and more, so you can build additional functionality on top of our core features. While many of the other tools on this list standardise specific elements of your accounting practice, we aim to make your whole workflow streamlined, consistent and accurate.
For accountants who want full control over how they store information, Notion is an ideal tool for standardising everything from note-taking to internal databases.
The notion is increasing in popularity because of its high level of flexibility. Starting with a blank page, you can tailor it for your workflows, creating complex data sets with tables, in-depth guides that span multiple pages or simple note-taking. Digital strategy firm owner William Nutt has created an in-depth tutorial for setting up a database with more customisation options than standard accounting tools.
One interesting way to use Notion is to document your Standard Operating Procedures; as this simple app provides a central location for your team to store and access information, it’s the perfect place to store guidelines that dictate your standardised ways of working.
A popular Quickbooks competitor, Xero is another accounting tool that firms can use to standardise basic accounting and bookkeeping practices for their clients. As HubSpot notes, one of their main differences is simply their popularity in different locations: Quickbooks is more popular in North America, while Xero is more popular in Europe.
Beyond their geographical differences, they’re pretty comparable in terms of how accountants can use them to standardise the entire accounting cycle, from balance sheets to expense reports and invoices.
Formstack helps standardise document creation, helping your team reduce the time they spend producing documents such as letters of engagement. Instead of typing out documents from scratch, accounting teams can automate the process with templates that use conditional logic to create new documents.
It can also automatically fill out internal documents with information that clients input via online lead generation tools. Doing so eliminates some of the data entry (and human error) that often go along with creating contracts, invoices, and other forms.
Dext’s accounting software is designed to help firms improve their workflows while ensuring everything they do is compliant with data processing regulations.
With process automation and integrations with many popular tools such as Quickbooks and Xero, Dext is great for automating manual processes, which ensures your workflows remain consistent across the firm.
10. Stream Deck
Egalto’s Stream Deck stands out on this list because it is a physical tool and not one initially created for the world of accountancy. Popular among online streamers for how it simplifies complex processes into one click, Stream Deck has recently made waves among accountants.
Chartered accountant Dave Sellick called Stream Deck ‘transformational’ for his practice workflows. This small deck covered in buttons can reduce repetitive processes that typically take multiple clicks down to the push of one button. By simply pressing one button on the panel, you can pull up applications, generate reports and create invoices.
Once a multi-step workflow, such as invoice creation, has been set up on the Stream Deck using its accompanying online software, tasks that previously took minutes can be reduced to mere seconds. Plus, each button can open up another level of options, providing you with the potential to automate hundreds of workflows, all (literally) at your fingertips.
The pros and cons of tools for standardisation
|Loom||Makes client and team communications more personable
Team members and clients can comment on videos
User-friendly editing and drawing tools to highlight points
Integrates with popular project management software
A sharable library of video resources
|Limited in its ability to standardise processes beyond screen recordings and video
Free plan limits videos to 5 min
Doesn’t have functionality for live meetings/live video streaming
|Syft||Allows you to send more sophisticated reports to clients
Integrates with Xero, QuickBooks, and Sage
Helps identify accounting errors before they’re a problem
Offers discounts for nonprofits
|May be overly sophisticated for accountants focused on singular tasks like tax reporting
Doesn’t integrate with communication or project management tools
|Xama||Lets you automate and schedule AML compliance checks
Integrates with Pixie, Companies House, and Karbon
You can sign up for free and pay as you go for each check
Offers AML training resources
|Only standardises AML procedures; not a multi-purpose tool
Pay-as-you-go pricing can be a challenge to budget for
Only includes 2GB of free storage, so costs may increase for high-volume firms
|Tableau||Lets you create versatile reports out of just about any dataset
Great tool for standardising large amounts of data
Integrates with database tools like Snowflake and Redshift
Has a community of users who can offer guidance
|Not as user-friendly as comparable tools like Syft
Doesn’t offer native integrations with accounting software
Its low-tier plan has fairly limited features
|Pixie||Helps standardise your entire workflow, from client communication to internal tasks
Offers automation, reminders, and client and team onboarding
Intuitive, user-friendly interface
Integrates with several other accounting tools
|Its effectiveness will depend on the complexity of your workflow needs
May be too simple for larger firms that need a single, integrated solution
|Notion||Offers lots of freedom in terms of how you set up files and records
You can attach documents to Notion “blocks” to extend them
Has an API and integrates with Zapier for extra flexibility
It’s easy to bring team members into the Notion workspace
|Systems need to be built from scratch (no built-in workflows)
Integrations have a tech/project management focus rather than an accounting one
Formulas aren’t as expansive as Excel
|Xero||Standardises accounting processes with a user-friendly interface
Has file storage, contact management, and inventory tools
Also has practice management options for accounting firms
Free partner program for accountants in practice
|Xero has a lot of features and tools, but less flexibility in how you use them
Potentially too complex for users that need a simple tool for one or two tasks
Project and expense tracking are both priced as add-ons
|Formstack||Wide range of documents and forms available to create
Reduces time spent on admin by automating the process of document and form creation
Integration with CRM, payment tools and email
Simple drag and drop builder that doesn’t require coding knowledge
|Limits placed on the number of form entries collected, themes used and data stored, which could restrict growing and large firms
The wide range of options can be overwhelming, meaning the interface isn’t particularly user friendly
The up-front work of building your forms and documents can be a time-consuming process
Additional features are limited compared to more specialised tools
|Dext||Hosted by AWS, ensuring any data stored within the platform is secure and compliant
Supports a good range of processes, including resource management, invoice creation and client health reporting
Creation of bespoke dashboards
Client-end access to guarantee receipt of documents and note sharing
|This is not a complete accounting software and will need to form part of a wider tech stack
Pricing plans are expensive given the limitations placed on the number of documents you can create each month
No built-in cloud storage
|Stream Deck||Fantastic for individuals and small accountancy firms
Short cut workflows across a range of accountancy and bookkeeping tools, all from one tool
One-off purchase with costs starting at £139.99 for the classic 15-button model
|Stream Deck is not easily scalable, meaning it might not be an efficient option for larger firms
Minimal training resources and communities offering accountancy-specific advice available
Set up time required to automate processes
Does not offer any functionality aside from simplifying workflows
Final thoughts on selecting the right accountancy tools for your firm
These 10 tools help standardise task management, document creation, and so many of the repetitive tasks that are responsible for inefficiencies and inaccuracies in accountancy and bookkeeping firms.
When it comes to choosing the right tools for your form, it is important to work with software that supports your firm’s approach to standardisation; these tools are there to simplify that process, not steer it. That means picking tools that fit your needs.
As long as you have a strategy to maximise consistency, you can always improve upon that solid foundation with the most appropriate tools for your niche, existing tech stack and workflows.