Boosting productivity will get the most out of any workforce. Within the world of accountancy, this couldn’t be more true. Modern productivity tools are invaluable for any firm to maximise its efficiency, helping team members stay focused and deliver excellent work.
My recommendation to firms wanting to get more work done (while retaining quality) is to use productivity tools. Why? Well, if we’re not making the most of technology and relying on outdated methods and inefficient practices, we’re missing out on opportunities to streamline our processes and improve productivity. And let’s not forget that with a more productive team, you’ll be able to clock more billable hours (hello, improved recovery rate).
Today, I’ll introduce you to 9 brilliant productivity tools that all accountancy firms should use. Let’s break down their features and benefits and shed some light on why productivity tools are important to help any firm make the most of its valuable time.
9 productivity tools for accountants
1. Float for financial forecasting
Keeping focussed on the present is important, but why not have a clearer understanding of the future?
Float is a forecasting add-on for accounting platforms, with integrations for Xero and QuickBooks. It allows users to visualise their cash flow in real-time, giving them a clearer understanding of the future of their finances up to three years ahead. It addresses common concerns and ‘what if’s, such as the impact of late payments from clients or when cash reserves will run out.
Rather than spending precious time running manual projections, use Float to get a clearer understanding of your financial forecasts. Float minimises risk, giving you easy-to-understand readings directly in your accounting platform, helping you make better decisions faster.
2. RescueTime for time management
Time management is imperative. Understanding how you and your team use your time is made easy by RescueTime. This nifty app allows you to visualise your productivity throughout the day, week or year, showing how you’ve spent your time on different tasks and software.
For example, the simple dashboard lets you quickly see how long you’ve spent working productively and when you’ve been distracted. Understanding how much time you’ve spent trawling social media versus completing client work lets you take back control and focus on your productivity.
Plus, RescueTime helps you make the most of your time with ‘Focus Work Goals’, which allow you to set yourself targets to work towards each day.
3. Pixie (that’s us!) for practice management
Pixie keeps communication running smoothly. Whether you’re a relatively new team or an established firm, you can rely on Pixie’s easy-to-use platform to give you an instant productivity boost.
Our workflow management features reduce the time spent on manual admin by streamlining processes, helping you work faster and focus on what matters. Plus, from team management and reporting to client onboarding and task management features, Pixie has everything you need to manage your practice with a focus on productivity.
Created with a focus on user experience, Pixie is easy for new users to get to grips with quickly, meaning limited downtime when adjusting to the tool. Once set up, your team members can save time by making the most of the automated email tool, custom date triggers that help you keep on top of important client deadlines, and additional automation and integrations.
4. AuditFile for financial audits
Streamlining the process of running client audits is made easy with AuditFile. This cloud-based software includes everything managers need to deliver a concise audit, with tracking and analytics features and compliance reviews.
The user-friendly nature of AuditFile delivers tracking, analytics and firm metrics in an efficient dashboard, allowing all data to be quickly absorbed and understood. Mobile access allows visibility at any time, anywhere, so you can continue to work on the go.
Plus, access to the latest Advantage Audit programs and planning documents means your team can produce tailored reports for clients based on their industry, making specialised reporting as easy as possible.
5. Slack for communication
Slack leads the way in collaboration tools. If you haven’t heard of this tool already, I’d be surprised! But it makes the list, nonetheless.
Slack lets you communicate with your team via video calls and instant messaging, helping everyone keep in touch throughout the day without cluttering email inboxes. Different departments can create their own channels, giving team members a space to discuss their work, while others can continue their projects without distraction.
This communication software is great for keeping communication clear and stopping important things from getting lost in a sea of endless emails. Threads within group chats allow key points to be compartmentalised, and you can share documents quickly and easily.
Simply, Slack allows your team members to talk to each other directly, either one-on-one or within their team, saving time setting up meetings for quick questions.
6. Notion for note-taking
Notion is all about clarity and organisation. Already one of the most popular organisational tools, this software has gone from strength to strength since its inception in 2016.
Notion is highly customisable, allowing you to create everything from to-do lists and notes to progress reports and databases. Managing your in-house projects in one place reduces time spent trawling through multiple tools for audits, graphs and spreadsheets. Plus, Notion’s simple interface is easy to navigate, helping you maintain an organised and productive workforce.
7. SmartVault for document sharing
The documents and files you share internally and with clients can be highly sensitive, so it’s important to use a tool that keeps these secure. But let’s not overcomplicate this with passwords and encryption; excellent security shouldn’t be the red tape that gets in the way of productivity.
SmartVault is designed specifically for accountants, so is a great example of how accounting software improves productivity. This platform is streamlined to fit your needs and provides clarity to your clients with branded portals, so they can collaborate with you in the cloud. You can automate repetitive tasks to save time, and you can easily access specific client folders from a straightforward address book.
A ‘central document repository’ keeps all of your accounting documents in one safe place, with easy access and secure management to give you peace of mind when handling sensitive files. Your clients will also be grateful to know you’re taking their security seriously and will be more comfortable uploading their critical financial documents, reducing time spent waiting for information to be shared.
8. Dext for data management
Another tool designed specifically for accountants is Dext. Dext delivers accurate data extraction to a cloud-based platform where clients can easily upload receipts and invoices, saving you both time.
Dext simplifies your work by automatically providing all the data you need in real-time, consolidated digital receipts from online merchants automatically as clients make purchases. This makes life easier for busy clients and generates the data you need instantly.
Plus, transaction data is customisable, meaning less time spent trawling through spreadsheets and boxes of physical receipts. This data can be easily sent to your accounting platform, keeping things simple.
9. Ignition for proposals
Ignition is a brilliant platform for managing client relations. This tool lets you run common yet complex communication with clients easily, with online proposal documents and automated invoices once a client accepts a proposal. You can also save time composing terms and conditions of service with this user-friendly software.
Client onboarding and invoicing can be automated to your accounting platform, with automated chases for unpaid invoices, allowing you more time for what’s important. Ignition makes it simple to retain your clients by keeping them satisfied with a speedy and efficient service.
The pros and cons of productivity tools
||Cash flow is visible up to three years ahead.
Delivers important data in real-time to minimise risk with intelligent forecasting.
|Better suited to small businesses.
Basic subscription has minimal ‘scenario layers’.
||Easy to customise reports.
Visualises over a range of time frames, helping you see your productivity over days, months or years.
Set yourself goals, boosting motivation.
|Mobile app is not as sophisticated as the desktop version.
Free trial is only available for one month.
||Straight-forward user experience.
Guides new users through the most important tasks to be completed, helping them prioritise efficiently.
Best for collaborative firms.
Not so useful for teams with rigid, old-school work styles.
||Easily accessible via multiple devices.
Varied tools offer diverse and specific solutions quickly.
|Can take time for new team members to get used to the software.
Tools cannot be downloaded. Everything needs to be done online.
||Easy to compile communication for various chats between team members or groups.
Versatile usage for any size of company owing to its chat consolidation.
Share files and information quickly, in one place.
|Free version is not as expansive as the full version, which can make some features not too practical with no video calling and limited storage for chats.
Loss of access to chats when using the free version can mean important information is lost, if not saved elsewhere.
||Well-rounded and tidy, Notion can keep a plethora of different file types in one place, such as spreadsheets, audits and training videos.
Versatility as a blank canvas tool.
|No templates for workflows, so it can take time to set up for multiple people.
No note annotations.
||Training assistance provided.
Access privileges of particular folders are easy to customise. This is useful for multiple clients with lots of staff, allowing varied and specific access to particular individuals.
|Documents can’t be edited in the app.
Some tasks require you to exit the dashboard.
||Data extraction tool built specifically for accountants.
Customisable transaction data from clients' purchases makes it easy to compartmentalise relevant information.
|Software can run slowly to accurately capture information from printed receipts.
||Automated payment collection.
Easy to put together appealing proposals and make a strong first impression on clients.
Integrates with lots of popular apps to quickly take care of time-consuming tasks.
|Not as well-suited to more traditional accountancy firms who prefer paper sign-offs.
So, are productivity tools right for your firm?