Many accounting firm owners wonder what they can do to quickly and efficiently scale their practice. They’re interested in taking on new clients, doing more for their existing clients, and ultimately making more money—but they don’t know where to begin.
One of the easiest steps you can take is examining your current accounting software, and making use of accounting integrations to improve the efficiency of that software. Understanding how to use accounting integrations is one of the most important steps for scaling an accounting firm in the modern era.
Scaling an Accounting Firm
Scaling an accounting firm can refer to a few different goals. Usually, a business looking to scale will primarily be seeking more clients, both in terms of numbers and in terms of value. You may also be looking to have a bigger footprint, appealing to clients in a wider range of geographic areas. In any case, there are a few basic tenets that can help you scale in these ways:
- Improving cost efficiency. First, you’ll need to improve your cost efficiency. Merely adding new clients and new employees can quickly turn your accounting firm into a disorganized mess—unless you have a plan to keep them organized. The more cost-efficient your organization is, the more reliably you’ll be able to grow.
- Expanding products and services. You can also scale by increasing the number and diversity of products and services offered by your accounting firm. If you can do more for your existing clients, you could simply increase your revenue (and the amount of work you’re doing) without adding new clients to your client base.
- Streamlining work. You’ll need to have a reliable system for working, as well. With more clients and more responsibilities, you’re going to need to have an impeccable documentation system—and clear procedures that even your newest, most inexperienced employees can follow.
Ultimately, accounting integrations can help you achieve all these goals.
Understanding Accounting Integrations
Accounting integrations typically take the form of third-party apps and platforms that serve a specific function. Rather than using them independently, you can “integrate” them into your accounting software, allowing you to trade information between these platforms or utilize functionality pertaining to both within a single platform. For example, your accounting software might automatically incorporate data from another external platform, saving you time and reducing the possibility of human error simultaneously.
Most of the time, third-party platforms and accounting software platforms do their best to make integration easy, with simplified, one-click integrations, or at least an easily parsed API. As long as you have accounts with both platforms, it shouldn’t be hard to accomplish.
Types of Accounting Integrations
So which accounting integrations are best for your accounting firm? These are some of the main categories to consider:
Payment gateways. Payment gateways are merchant services that are controlled by an independent third party. Typically, they allow you to process credit card transactions or other direct payments, and are often used by e-businesses and online retailers to process transactions. When integrated into your accounting software, you can use them to automatically log different transactions, or make it easier to keep track of your accounts receivable.
Payroll. Sometimes, you’ll rely on a different system to process your employees’ payroll. If that’s the case, you can use a payroll-centric accounting integration to simplify how you do things like keep track of employee hours and dispense payment (via check, direct deposit, or some other method). Ideally, you’ll have a payroll integration that allows you to track workers regardless if they’re full-time, part-time, salaried, or hourly.
Point of sale (POS) software. POS software is used frequently in brick-and-mortar stores and by people selling their goods in person. On its own, it’s a way to make consumer transactions faster. When you integrate it into your accounting software, you can automatically keep track of all your consumers’ purchases, making it easier to analyze those data and account for them in your revenue.
Project management. It’s also possible to integrate your accounting software with some kind of project management software. Depending on the nature of your firm, you can use a project management platform to organize your major client projects, assign tasks to your employees, keep track of hours spent on different tasks, and more. When you integrate it into your accounting software, you can track things more precisely, and update project management tasks without leaving your core accounting software.
Productivity and time management. Similarly, you can integrate different types of productivity and time management software into your accounting software. Depending on your goals and your employees, you could feasibly use this to keep track of the hours you spend on different accounting tasks or projects, or refine your processes to be more efficient.
Expense tracking. Some companies rely on specific expense tracking software to keep track of things like meal expenditures, miles driven, and other travel costs. This usually makes it easier for the people tracking it and increases the total accuracy; if you integrate this into your accounting software, you’ll be able to automatically incorporate these into your ledger.
CRM and customer service. If you have lots of customers to keep track of, or if you’re big on customer service, you should know you can integrate your customer relationship management (CRM) software and customer service software into your accounting software. Depending on which platforms you use, this can greatly simplify things.
Marketing and advertising. If you want your accounting firm to expand, you’ll need to spend time marketing and advertising it. Ideally, you can incorporate your ad spend into your accounting records.
Important Tips for Using Accounting Integrations
If you decide to incorporate more accounting integrations into your core accounting software, make sure you follow these important tips:
Minimize your independent systems. There are thousands of platforms that could be valuable to accounting firms, each of which promises some massive benefit, like time savings, cost savings, or new functionality. It’s easy to get distracted from your main goals and start using as many platforms as possible. However, this tends to be inefficient, and can overwhelm you with new processes to learn and new requirements to meet. It’s usually better to stick to a small number of highly effective platforms.
Add accounting integrations gradually. Every new integration is going to add complexity to your system. It’s going to be a new connection point of data exchange, and a new sequence of functions you’ll need to account for. Accordingly, it’s in your best interest to add new integrations on a gradual basis, one at a time. This will also make it easier for your employees to adjust to the new procedures and UI.
Consider security. You’ll also need to think about the security of your data, especially if you're integrating cloud based accounting software. Each connection point is another point of potential vulnerability that a cybercriminal could try and exploit. Each third party piece of software you use is yet another point of vulnerability. Make sure you’re only using products and integrations made by developers you trust, and enforce best security practices like maintaining strong passwords (and changing them regularly), and keeping all your systems up-to-date.
If you’re ready to get started with accounting software that serves all your needs and offers ample integrations with third-party services, consider using Taxfyle. Sign up for a free trial today, and you’ll learn how Taxfyle can reliably scale your accounting firm—while reducing your workload and improving your overall efficiency at the same time.