Case studies: Workflow
BY seth fineBerg
taking the time to find inefficiencies around the office can be a
daunting task for most firms, but more are finding that estab-
lishing better workflows for most essential tasks — particularly
tax work — will save time and, ultimately, money.
Four firms show how they chose to go with the flow
and would like to expand Office Tools Pro to
all or most of them. It is currently looking into
using it in the payroll department, specifically
to track state tax payments, as there is no efficient system in place for doing so.
The firms that are taking the initiative to
improve their workflows are turning to a variety of technologies to do so, some of which
they found integrate well with other systems
they already have in place.
Below are four firms that until fairly recently utilized people, paper and the occasional
spreadsheet or electronic calendar to track
the flow of work in their offices.
No more colored folders
Firm: ChurchShield LLC / Noblesville, Ind.
Product: Office Tools Pro
Commencement: November 2010
On record: Kristin Oechsle, office/payroll
manager, and Ryan Foust, tax manager
Challenge/objective: The firm needed a
more efficient solution to track the flow of
tax documents and job status. They had only
been using a shared calendar in Outlook, and
it was not updated regularly. During tax time,
managers also had to wait for colored folders
to come to their desks to know when a job
was complete. Several people were involved
in this process.
Amount spent: 15-user license for $3,400,
plus additional cost for two-day training.
Process: The firm had been shopping
around for practice management software,
and tried a few applications. They had also
read trade publications and reviews about
Office Tools Pro, and last year decided to test
it. “We found it easy to navigate and use. We
also wanted a software we could all use,” said
Oechsle. “You can export and import returns
and it shows you exactly where every project
is, where we were usually waiting until we
went through the billing process to find out
the status of a project.”
She and Foust admitted to some initial hes-
itation from others in the firm, and they also
had to figure out exactly which departments
would be best suited for its use. Outsourced
accounting is the largest department in the
firm, but with the 75-80 unique workflows
to track, it was decided that that department
would not be placed into the new workflow
system, and the firm began using Office Tools
Pro for tax.
Going for integration
Firm: Schmidt Westergard & Co. /
Product: FirmFlow (Thomson Reuters)
Commencement: Installed October 2010;
went live January 2011.
On record: Scott T. Wrigley, tax partner
Challenge/objective: The firm processes
over 1,000 tax returns a year and wanted to
streamline its workflow processes to create
more efficiencies, mainly for tax and billing.
Amount spent/cost: Starts at $110 per
month for five users and an unlimited number of workflows. The firm received FirmFlow
bundled as part of bigger packet and negotiated a portal and practice module as well.
Process: The firm first examined its department processes and realized there were
numerous inefficiencies. They were physically handing paper files from office to office, and an increasingly mobile staff made
workflow tracking even more difficult.
The firm reviewed many products and
preferred one that was integrated with other
software the firm needed to use. They found
that FirmFlow appeared to meet their needs
and had Thomson Reuters personnel into
the office for implementation and training,
which took three to four days, after which all
the necessary workflows were created.
“The one key thing to note about the process was that we didn’t roll this out to a test
group; it was for everyone,” said Wrigley. “We
had very good buy-in from our staff; our first
month we had lunch-and-learns to see what
was working, what wasn’t, and help everyone
get on the same page. A lot of the process was
about learning from others — those that got
it could help others that didn’t.”
Results: Wrigley claims the firm is
more efficient and was pleased to see the
reports that FirmFlow was able to pro-
See WorkFlo W on
KKR SUBSIDIARY VISMA
INVESTS IN ACUMATICA
BETHESDA, MD. — Cloud ERP software
provider Acumatica closed a round of investment led by Visma, a major ERP, tax,
payroll and accounting product maker
based in Oslo, Norway. Visma is a subsidiary of venture capital concern Kohlberg
Kravis Roberts & Co.
Financial terms of the investment were
As part of the deal, Visma will repackage Acumatica as its cloud-based ERP
offering to over 150,000 customers in
Scandinavia and Northern Europe, including Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark
and the Netherlands, and throughout its
network. The Visma proceeds will also be
used to help Acumatica expand its own
sales and marketing efforts and continue
development of its technology platform.
DELL TO OFFER HOSTED
DYNAMICS GP AND QB
ROUND ROCK, TEXAS — PC manufacturer
Dell next year will begin offering hosted
versions of Microsoft Dynamics GP and
QuickBooks, as well as other services,
through partnerships with Salesforce.
com, Microsoft, Intuit and others.
The new service — Dell Cloud
Business Applications — is a family of
integrated SaaS applications with cross-application cloud analytics supported
by end-to-end Dell services. This news
comes shortly after Dell announced its
first Infrastructure-as-a-Service offering, tying the services together using
its recently acquired Boomi integration
SAGE ACT! 2012 ADDS
Sage North America has introduced its
Sage ACT! 2012 contact and customer
manager, along with Sage ACT! Connect,
which integrates with Google applications. The latest ACT! release integrates
with Gmail, Google Contacts and
Google Calendar. It also has expanded
search capabilities and a virtual notepad,
along with other enhancements that allow Sage ACT! to function as a sales and
marketing command center for small and