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Using the Intuit ecosystem to work 100% in the cloud

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In running a fully remote practice, I have three pillars I always take into consideration:

  1. Communication with clients.
  2. Communication with staff.
  3. Communication with self (my organization).

The good news is that when you implement a great cloud-based solution into your system, one solution can usually optimize all three pillars. My most used tool for each is:

  1. Communication with clients: Intuit® Practice Management.
  2. Communication with staff: Slack.
  3. Communication with self: Google Calendar and Google Drive.

I am excited to share with you how I run my practice with these best-in-class cloud-based solutions, and will share some others that I am interested in adding to my tech stack.

Let’s take, for example, the bookkeeping portion of my practice. This is what started Buck Stops Here Accounting, Inc., and something I really enjoy because it is a fundamental of business. I firmly believe that if you don’t get the bookkeeping system down, then you do not have a foundation to build on.

I use QuickBooks® Online Accountant, a free tool for accountants; this is where the whole game starts. From the pillars:

  1. I have all my bookkeeping clients easily accessible in one place.
  2. I have my staff with custom administrative features that have access.
  3. I run my own bookkeeping for my company through QuickBooks Online Accountant.

A core value of my firm is leading by example. I am a client of my own company. My staff can also get more education for free through QuickBooks Online Accountant and get certified in all of the different Intuit products, from QuickBooks Online Payroll to QuickBooks Time.

My 4-step process

Step 1: Discovery

We need the client to adopt our cloud-based solutions. If they can’t, this is a signal that they are not suitable to your firm.

One of my favorite tools I use after a client wants to meet with us is Calendly (Professional). I use this for new prospects to book meetings with me on Zoom (Pro). In my engagements, my bookkeeping clients in Phase 2 (see below) get to have a 1-hour meeting to go over their financials.

I use Google Calendar, and when a client books a meeting with me, it will go to my calendar. If my calendar has me doing something else, the client cannot schedule during that time. Also, on Google Calendar, I can connect my Zoom right to it, because I want to limit time wasted trying to get clients on to my Zoom; I have seen some examples of 45 minutes trying to get an online meeting started, and we just can’t have that!

However, they need to use Calendly to schedule it. It gets an investment and buy-in from the client. 

My business phone number listed on my website is set up through Ring Central, and for security, I use 2-Factor Authentication wherever possible and send the call to this business phone number.

Step 2: Engage

I send invoices through QuickBooks. It is a no brainer because this action makes my books very clean. My clients all pay through QuickBooks Payments, where I can take credit card or ACH. Venmo and PayPal were just added.

I will take cash or check as a last resort. However, anyone operating like this is most likely another signal that this client is not going to adopt your cloud-based solutions.

In 2023, I am considering adding Ignition to make the invoicing and engagement process more efficient. I use QuickBooks Time to track my remote workers who are billing me hourly. Because they also book their time to a client, I can do an Income by Client Summary in QuickBooks. I use Veem to pay them.

Step 3: Phase 1

This is where I get the client’s compliance up to date, their books up to date, and go backwards.

Step 4: Phase 2 

This is where a client is now fully onboarded: a client who is having me run their accounting systems. It is the efficient use of these cloud-based tools that is making the lives easier for my clients, staff, and myself. 

The better technology gets, the less we will need the client’s participation—and we can’t get to advisory until compliance is done and bookkeeping is perfect. At this point, we can get strategic and think more long-term.

Remember: If you implement a new system, it confuses and takes time. I like to have a one-page document showing my tech stack. It is a good visual and I got this idea at QuickBooks Connect 2022.

File storage

In the “old” days, accounting and tax practices were known for endless file folders organized by client. 

I do the same, but it is all in the cloud, so I take the best processes from the old school and have clients file folders in Google Drive. I alphabetize my Google Drive as if it was a real filing system by name and year.

I like Google Drive, because it has great integration with Intuit Link, which is what I use for all my tax clients on Intuit ProConnect™ Tax.

Tax returns

Working on client’s year-end books triggers a process, where QuickBooks Online is transferred right into the client’s business return in ProConnect Tax.

Here, I use Intuit Link for the following, and can customize all of these for a template or per customer:

  • Engagement letter.
  • Questions organizer.
  • Template for documents needed.
  • Automatically importing docs, such as W-2s, to the return from Link.
  • Creating a function where I can add their Google Doc file from Intuit Link.

For my 1040 personal tax returns, I am trying, for the first time this year, Protection Plus, which offers my clients audit and identity theft protection.

Once the tax return is declared done and when all the of the checklist has been completed, the client can use e-Signature through DocuSign on ProConnect Tax. 

One more technology to cover. Intuit Tax Advisor is something I have not used yet, but is on my radar for tax planning and should be a seamless integration for my system.

Wrapping it up

The better the technology gets, the easier all these processes get. Every one of these cloud-based solutions are improving themselves, so your biggest challenge will be adding too many things to your tech stack and getting buy-in from your clients.

That is why I try to keep it clear and simple. If one software can take on the duty of five different ones, than I prefer that one. I want the client to not have to participate in compliance. I want them to participate in clear advisory!

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