Practice Management - An Opportunity to Grow
Providing the best client service possible is an important accounting professional mantra. Expanding your services within your client base is a common strategy. Adding new clients in your specialty or niche can be another. How do you manage your opportunities and pipeline? How do you apply product management principles to your services?
Sure, you can do this on a yellow tablet or in a spreadsheet, but these tools should only be used to start the process. They can work well for strategic thinking and prototyping, but if you intend to operationalize your offerings, you’ll need to integrate the right practice management or customer relationship management (CRM) product into your everyday life. These tools may even be integrated with workflow and document management.
A few suppliers to the profession have created tools that they believe serve your needs. Among these are high end tools like Commercial Logic APS or PowerPM as well as products like OfficeTools Professional that is targeted at small firms. Using a system that has CRM, document management and workflow integrated, like APS, gives you one place to do your work. Consultants to the profession often encourage the use of CRM products such as SalesForce, Sage CRM or Results CRM, but don’t always recommend that you integrate these systems into your mobile phones, practice management systems or web site, which is a strategic and tactical error.
There are other full featured social media marketing tools like InFusionSoft and Karbon Practice Management which tries to integrate all of your activities in a single place. Unfortunately, the major practice management products don’t have enough CRM-like capabilities to help your entire firm be effective at marketing, but some of these publisher’s strategies will change in 2016.
Probably more important than the tool is the culture of business development, discovery meetings, referral clients and omni-channel marketing. Since many accounting professionals have not been trained in marketing, this leads to common errors and mis-starts. You’ll need to use some effort considering the right marketing strategy and methods for your firm. There are a number of well-thought methodologies in the market, but few are supported properly by the right technical tools. You can apply the principles of these marketing methods to your technology tools.
What Should You Look For?
The key features of practice management that does CRM or a CRM that is integrated into practice management include the following:
Integration to mobile devices – This allows partners and staff alike to receive calls and send email from their mobile devices, enabled by having the right phone number, email and other critical contact information. I’m amazed how many professionals get outside of their office without this key information available. Read more on CPA Practice Advisor.