Working Remotely
Working Remotely

Prepare your firm for the reality of tax season 2022 with this Remote Readiness Roadmap

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Almost two years have gone by since COVID-19 first began to infiltrate our collective consciousness. The impact of the pandemic has been far reaching, touching businesses and individuals around the globe. From a business perspective, the pandemic has transformed many tax and accounting firms, and the individuals and businesses they serve in ways that were not anticipated. 

For example, the rapid shift to remote work and client service models is a trend that will continue through this tax season, if not indefinitely, as many firms make the move to remote work permanent. If your firm is adopting, or continuing to use, a completely remote or hybrid (remote and in-office work) to support this new “remote reality,” then you need to have a plan and a system in place to make sure you can do this as efficiently and effectively as possible. 

Adapting to the remote reality of tax season 2022 requires cloud-based document management

At the heart of preparing for the remote reality of tax season is preparing your team and clients to work seamlessly in the cloud with secure access to all required documents and systems so everyone can collaborate throughout your tax preparation workflow.

As accountant and author Dawn Brolin, CPA, CFE, has said, being remote-ready is also good for your  firm’s bottom line: “Being ready, and I mean really ready, to operate remotely is not only a no-brainer when it comes to scaling your business to serve more clients more efficiently;  it’s an essential point of control to make sure our future livelihoods and those of the employees we have are protected as we navigate the unexpected.”

Dawn was able to keep her firm operating and growing exponentially during the past two tax seasons, which, given the negative impact of the pandemic on the overall business landscape is no easy feat.

“Our firm didn’t skip a beat during Covid-19—we were even able to add new clients,” Dawn reported at the end of last tax season. “We were able to onboard and serve more clients while keeping our profit margins high and our stress levels low.”  

Dawn’s strategy is not a secret, it’s one that she shares widely with her professional peers and a philosophy that we share at SmartVault: Leverage cloud-based technologies to create a secure, sustainable, and successful remote business model. This will ensure not only that you can meet all of your tax preparation needs, but be fully prepared to continue serving your clients all year long, no matter what happens.

Dawn’s firm, Powerful Accounting Inc., provides the perfect example. Given her practical and proactive implementation of a robust remote work plan for her firm, even prior to the pandemic, Dawn has been able to provide key insights to help support other practitioners as they take action to meet the challenges of the remote realities of tax season 2022. 

Prepare now for the realities of another remote tax season with these best practices included in SmartVault’s Remote Readiness Roadmap

Here are some of the best practices Dawn shared with us and we want to pass them along here to help your firm create a tax season 2022 Remote Readiness Roadmap. If you take a day or two now, and hone in on these steps, it will help you maximize the benefits of a remote firm model while reducing any negative impacts to your productivity or profitability.

  1. Make a comprehensive list of your critical business functions and partners who are part of your business processes.
  2. Identify the financial and operational risks related to these processes in your business. 
  3. List the  kind of contingencies or processes you need to add to ensure you can keep functioning and serving your clients.
  4. Make a prioritized list of needs based on your findings above. 
  5. The next phase of the process is to identify the specific actions you need to change based on your remote work needs. A central component will be the need to structure your remote team for success. 

These questions can help you think through the process:

  • Are your staff fully prepared to work remotely this tax season? 
  • Do they have everything they need from an equipment and secure access to all of your firm’s cloud-based document access and 
  • Does your firm have a plan for productive remote work capabilities?
  • If you use contractors, how will they continue to serve your firm? Do you need to provide them with secure access to your files? Make sure they are in the loop when it comes to your continuity plan!
  • Can you run your business completely in the cloud? From anywhere, anytime?

Once you have your roadmap in place for your firm, you’ll need to document it in a process manual and then share the appropriate procedures with each member of your team, whether they are an employee, contractor, or client. 

Here’s one more piece of critical advice that Dawn shared with our team:

“When it comes to creating and implementing your Remote Readiness Roadmap, providing the right technologies and tools to your team is absolutely essential. After all, people are at the heart of any practice. You need to give them the tools to help them be productive and deliver an amazing client experience even from a remote location. Now is the time to get everyone set up for success before the first return arrives in your client portals.”

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