Sherwood eliminates overtime with Hosting for Lacerte
Kristen Keats

Sherwood and overtime: Hosting for Lacerte

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When Kristen Keats, CPA, took ownership of Sherwood Tax & Accounting in 2020, she made a few changes. Among the most significant was moving the firm to a hosted solution for Intuit® Lacerte® Tax.

For this reason, Kristen said “We have virtually eliminated overtime.”

Hosting for Lacerte has been the key to unlocking work-life balance for the firm’s dedicated employees and staff.

“We began working with an outsourced team when I purchased Sherwood Tax,” she said. “We would not be able to have that team’s support without the ability to work in Lacerte on a hosted solution. This capability allows our U.S.-based staff to focus on high-touch client service and gives everyone more personal time.”

Creating fulfilling work and personal lives for staff

Lacerte Intuit’s powerful tax preparation software is built to tackle the most complex tax returns. Its security, productivity, and error-spotting features are highly rated—and it’s made all the more effective with the attached cloud services.

Although Hosting for Lacerte is good for any firm that wants to use the cloud for storing and sharing information, Kristen said Sherwood Tax’s remote and geographically diverse structure is only possible with a hosting solution for Lacerte that can keep the team connected and simplify file sharing. She estimates that the firm saves 30 minutes per tax return with Hosting for Lacerte—just by eliminating the back-and-forth to send backup files.

Sherwood Tax’s international division of labor on tax returns, tax planning, and bookkeeping services has won back time for the entire staff. Her outsourced, Mexico-based team has the information it needs to handle the firm’s routine activities, while the U.S.-based team has the bandwidth to provide personalized touchpoints for clients. And everyone can punch out on time at the end of the day.

Focusing on high-value advisory services

Hosting isn’t the only way that the powerful Lacerte platform helps the firm’s employees do more meaningful work. With the ecosystem of integrated Intuit programs, there are more synergies between client’ data in QuickBooks® Online and Lacerte.

“Anything that can reduce or eliminate duplicate work is going to allow us to focus on more valued activities,” said Kristen, noting that the smooth integration among Intuit’s products helps employees perform to their highest potential.

For her team, it’s important to spend more time on high-value consulting, advisory services, and meaningful face-to-face interactions. Advisory services have “changed the focus for the clients from a transaction and once-per-year conversation to a year-round collaborative relationship,” she said.

“You want to be able to flex those advisory muscles, and show off the knowledge you have and how it helps your clients. All the knowledge and insights you have aren’t being used to their capacity when you’re only working on tax returns.”

Automating vexing tasks to do more meaningful work with Protection Plus

Taking advantage of automations for manual or time-consuming processes is an easy place to start winning back time for your firm. In fact, as a member of the Intuit Tax Council, Kristen learns best practices in saving time from her colleagues on the Council.

One task that can be particularly frustrating for tax accountants is handling notices on behalf of their clients from tax agencies.

“Receiving tax notices is stressful for the clients—and a drag on our time to address,” said Kristen. “It always seems like an emergency, so we have to drop everything to call the agency that sent the notice!”

That’s why Sherwood Tax offers Protection Plus as part of their tax return packages for clients. Clients have the peace of mind that the firm will handle any tax notices, and the firm has the peace of mind that the CPAs and EAs at Protection Plus will stay on the phone as long as it takes to resolve any issue. Keats estimates that the firm can save 40 hours a year on notice responses with Protection Plus.

The suite of integrated Intuit technology Sherwood Tax uses—Lacerte, Hosting for Lacerte, and Protection Plus—is Kristen’s secret sauce for eliminating overtime and helping each employee perform to their highest potential.

“Technology is meant to assist us, not replace us; it’s intended to make us more valuable,” she said. “Inside your firm, you can automate an area such as compliance, so you can focus more of your time energy on advisory services and less on compliance work—making what you’re doing most meaningful.”

At a glance

Firm name: Sherwood Tax & Accounting

Location: Based in Sherwood, Oregon; the firm mostly works remotely, with additional staff in ​​Guadalajara, Mexico.

Size of firm: 9 employees

Niche focus: Sherwood offers bookkeeping services, tax return preparation, and tax advisory and consulting services for small businesses, with the goal of making taxes and accounting less stressful for entrepreneurs.

Intuit software: Intuit Lacerte Tax, Hosting for Lacerte, Protection Plus, Intuit Practice Management, QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop.

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