Effective Workflow for Freelance Virtual Bookkeepers

workflowDo you work with your clients on a virtual basis? If so, have you figured out an effective workflow to get your virtual bookkeeping done conveniently and efficiently?

Everything is Changing

Even the core of what we do for our clients has been changing drastically. While many of us may still do actual data entry from source documents, much of that is rapidly going away with automatic nightly transaction downloads offered inside many of the popular online (and now even desktop) bookkeeping programs. It’s available in popular programs such as FreshBooks, Wave, QuickBooks (desktop and online versions) and Xero, to name a few.

The sources of financial information are also expanding because of rapid technology advances. You may find yourself juggling physical paper bills and receipts, email receipts, electronic deposits and even mobile text notifications. This, too, can be a challenge just to keep it all organized and capture the details we need to assure that the clients’ records are accurate and complete.

Workflow is Key to Holding it All Together

Our role is transitioning from transaction entry to transaction management. That’s a double-edged sword. While it can mean a huge time savings and opening the door to providing higher value services such as consulting, it can also be confusing and mean we need to keep up with the times or suffer adverse consequences.

Some bookkeepers worry that if clients don’t need us to enter transaction data, then we’ll lose business. The reality is, it’s more like getting a promotion! While accurately entering data by hand does take a measure of skill that machines simply can’t duplicate completely, it’s not rocket science either. What’s happening is, the lower level work is being delegated to technology so that we can spend our time using more of our skills, getting more done in less time. Instead of being the worker bee, you get to step up to the manager role to assure that what automation is putting into the bookkeeping records is accurate and complete.

Of course, this means you need to gather all the source information coming at you from all different directions. That’s where workflow comes in. The system you use to funnel all the information you need to effectively manage data, as well as deliver reports is more important than ever. That system is built with tools. Your workflow needs to provide clients a convenient, consistent and scalable service. Build an efficient and easy workflow and you’ve discovered the secret sauce that makes it possible to grow your businesses like never before!

Workflow Tools: The Good, The Bad and The Scary

Of course, there is no single silver bullet that is the “perfect” workflow tool that is ideal for everyone in every situation. In fact, one of the “problems” with the advancing technology is the exponential growth of all the tools available to us!

And not all online tools are created equal either. We need to be careful about what apps we use, especially when sharing or receiving sensitive financial information. Security is a big reason we need to be careful. You should not be sending or receiving anything via email that you don’t want publicly accessible. It’s not secure and could get you into a lot of hot water!

So when stocking your freelance bookkeeping business workflow toolbox, use tools especially designed for accounting professionals whenever possible. CPAs have high standards that they are legally required to maintain. When we adopt those standards, it only makes us more valuable to our clients and proves we run a truly professional business.

Tools that make it easy for clients to get you what you need and keep the lines of communication open save you time. When they integrate with the bookkeeping software programs you’re using, then it’s a home run!

The key functions your workflow should handle are…

  • An easy way for clients to send you source information securely
  • A simple way to review and manage that information and add it to the bookkeeping records
  • A convenient and timely method to deliver reports and other documents electronically

The core tool that accomplishes all of this (and more) that is both secure and affordable for freelance bookkeepers is SmartVault. You can cobble other tools together to accomplish similar workflow, but for most freelance virtual bookkeepers, I suggest you start with or switch to SmartVault. I use it myself and highly recommend it to my virtual bookkeeping students.

It’s as close to a one-stop workflow tool as you can get, no matter what bookkeeping software you use.

Have you tried SmartVault or found an efficient workflow tool that you love? Please share your thoughts.

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Freelance bookkeeper, trainer and consultant who works with internet savvy business owners and bookkeeping professionals to maximize cash flow and build true win-win relationships.

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