Best practices and standard operating procedures (SOPs) may not be exciting, but they are vital for the growth of accounting and bookkeeping firms.
Following best practices and procedures helps accountants deliver consistent work for clients, avoid mistakes, and ensure they always adhere to industry rules and regulations. In turn, this keeps clients happy and leads to financial growth.
Despite their importance, making sure team members stick to best practices can be challenging. When bad habits begin to form, it can be easy to assume this is because of laziness. However, while this can sometimes be the case, it’s more likely that processes aren’t clearly documented, are difficult to access or aren’t appropriately maintained by more senior staff members.
Without clear and easy-to-follow SOPs, standards of work can fall, resulting in disappointed clients and a tarnished reputation. If you need additional guidance on creating best practices or SOPs, we break this process down here.
We’re here to help. Read on for some top tips on how to help your team stick to best practices and procedures.
Why are best practices and procedures important?
Just how vital are best practices and procedures, really? You might feel that you’re managing fine without any formalised SOPs. And maybe you are.
But as your accounting or bookkeeping firm grows and takes on more clients, SOPs will become more and more necessary.
Best practices prevent mistakes
One of the simplest ways to prevent easily avoidable mistakes is by systemising repeatable tasks. If a task needs to be completed for each client regularly, creating a standardised checklist will ensure your team never misses a step.
Tools like Pixie can help you to automate and manage task lists to make everyone’s lives easier — you can even assign tasks to clients.
Keeping quality of work consistent
Defining your firm’s SOPs means that each client will receive the same high standard of care without fluctuations in quality over time. Standards should remain consistent even in the case of staff absences or departures from the business.
No matter which team member your clients are working with, your business should maintain a reputation for delivering high-quality work. Of course, we know you’ve hired a team of superstars, but even a superstar can have a bad day! Clearly defining proper ways of working can go a long way to preventing errors from occurring and can help your team catch mistakes before they cause problems.
Ensure industry rules and regulations are adhered to
It’s critically important to adhere to industry rules and regulations, especially in a sector like accounting or bookkeeping. Your clients trust you with their financial information, and it is your responsibility to guarantee you are reporting on this accurately.
Clearly documented and easily accessible processes will prevent your team from accidentally overlooking crucial details and keep your accountancy firm on the right side of the law.
Strategies for helping your team stick to best practices
So, how can you ensure your team adheres to your best practices and procedures once you’ve defined them?
Implement standardised workflows
Setting up standardised workflows for regularly repeated actions, such as admin tasks, is a great way to guarantee that SOPs are followed.
It’s worth considering implementing a practice management tool to automate tasks, create to-do lists and set reminders. According to a study by McKinsey, automation is estimated to raise productivity growth globally by 0.8 to 1.4 per cent annually.
Standardised workflows and automation reduce the risk of human error and provide team members with a clear formula to follow. Making it as easy as possible for your team to understand and follow best practices is key to success.
Keep a documented record of all standardised workflows
It’s essential that everyone knows what standardised workflows and processes you have set up and where to find them.
Make sure you have a centrally located document containing all your firm’s SOPs with links to further information. You can use a tool like Notion to make these procedures available to everyone to read or simply have them clearly labelled in your Sharepoint or Google Drive. Alternatively, if you prefer to keep things old-school, a trusty Word document can work wonders, as long as everyone knows where to find it and it’s updated regularly.
Plus, make sure to circulate these documents via email or internal messaging systems regularly, including when new starters join your firm. Your team won’t follow them if they don’t know they exist. It’s as simple as that!
Educate your team on rules and regulations through training
It’s important to understand that getting your team to follow your best practices is not as easy as creating documents and expecting to see immediate changes. You have to bring these best practices to life with interactive and engaging training sessions that take the time to ensure your team knows how to implement them effectively.
If your team knows why your business is introducing these best practices and procedures and understands why they’re essential, they’re more likely to follow them consistently.
Schedule frequent reviews to ensure team members don’t slip into bad habits
Once your team is familiar with the best practice procedures you’ve set up, it’s important to keep them front of mind.
While a fantastic training session can do wonders for bringing the team closer together and inspiring them to do their best work possible, additional effort needs to be made to keep that enthusiasm going. It’s easy to leave a session full of inspiration but then quickly return to old habits if there is no motivation to do things differently.
Hosting frequent team reviews creates a sense of accountability and provides an opportunity to check in on whether your team is following your SOPs correctly or falling back into their old ways.
Set up standardised templates and workflows in Pixie
Did you know that you can use Pixie (that’s us!) to support your best practices with standardised workflows and templates?
From easy-to-use automations, like creating checklists or automatic client reminders, to task management, Pixie makes following best practices and procedures simple.
We even have a library full of workflow templates tailored to everyday accounting tasks in your country and other routine processes across the industry. These templates are fantastic for guaranteeing that your team doesn’t stray away from best practices.
Ready to get your team on the right track?
When it comes to best practices for small businesses, standardised operating procedures help you and your team consistently deliver high-quality services.
Become known for your professionalism and attention to detail by creating clearly documented SOPs, and bringing them to life with regular training and reviews.
Using a tool like Pixie to create, manage, and report on workflows and processes will help you achieve all this and more, leading to stronger relationships with your clients.