How To Successfully Work Remotely With Your Clients
THE OLD WAY –
Consultants & Bookkeepers Working At Client’s Office –meant lost hours in travelling time – whether chargeable or not – still lost time is lost time; sometimes working in cramped and confined conditions; insufficient computers to go around; out of date systems; decrepit computers & equipment.
Secure Logins – Before a consultant/bookkeeper can implement this method a couple of important factors & questions need to be in place:
a) is the consultant familiar with remote access using a trusted and secure service? ;
b) does your client’s computer have the capabilities to handle remote access?
c) does the client understand how to implement a remote access login?;
d) what is it that the client wants or is trying to do?
e) does the client have ADSL/Wireless Connection?
What is it that the client asked you to do? Are you fixing an existing problem, processing their accounting, downloading a data file to work on your computer, have they lost an invoice layout, are you creating templates – these are just of the options and scenarios where consultant may assist their client.
You, Your Client & Remote Access – in Australia most businesses are innovative and accept the fact that their consultant is there to help them move forward with technology & systems, helping with new suggestions and implementations. Consultants and bookkeepers are generally the ones who are consulted first before the client purchases new software, computers & equipment – simply because the client puts their trust in the consultant to understand new technology and assist when called upon. As certified consultants and certified advisors in software applications, consultants are required to participate in annual examinations to ensure their product knowledge is in-line with the high level of proficiency using all these applications. Professional Consultants/Bookkeepers are also required to clock up professional development hours and attend conference and product updates in their respective professions and become members of Australia’s best professional affiliations/ organizations available; for example Institute of Certified Bookkeepers, Australian Bookkeepers Network and Australian Accounting Technicians. It is for this very reason why clients seek assistance and support from professional certified consultants/advisors/bookkeepers.
Remote Systems Available – Suggest Google “Remote Access”: Do your homework and research, if in doubt talk to your peers who will help in recommending a reliable service. I use a number of applications from Free to Subscription based services to assist with anything from urgent fixes to processing online via remote access. Depending on what is required.
Trusted source in using Logmein Rescue 123 and/or Logmein Ignition. Both are subscription based Apps. annual fees do vary on each product. Be sure to check out and understand exactly what the annual charges are before going ahead with any annual subscription, perhaps a monthly subscription would be better suited.
- Logmein Rescue 123 is the “high end” for Remote Access, no fuss to use, simple log into dashboard and generate a unique ticket for user to accept. On completion of a remote service time logs can be generated via visual time or download an Excel Report. This can send attached to clients invoice showing actual time logged in. A client’s memory can be short especially after a crisis so a perfect way to substantiate your time and provide your service report.
- Logmein Ignition– also a subscription based application which can be installed on desktop or usb/flash drive – once client credentials and password setup access client system as long as computer is left on. This is a handy little application which, if not in office can access via laptop or on iPhone/iPad. Can be found www.logmein.com
- Logmein Free – Some consultants use the Free version of Logmein. I personally find the free version, unless already installed and setup by a professional, messy and the client has no idea how to implement this, despite having sent thru concise instructions. Consultant ends up spending too much time talking the client thru to install the application. Your client is already stressed out, because this is why they called you in the first place.
- Outline Your Terms of Trading - Since using remote access tools, which are subscription based applications, the client needs to understand what it is that you are providing, i.e. a service which is usually an SOS service, so whilst there will be no on-site call out fee, by using a subscription base tool, consultants should be charging a log in fee to their clients. I have added a footer for each unique ticket generated, stating the client is accepting my terms of trading and are liable for a login fee & hourly rate of whatever service is provided. www.logmeinrescue123.com
- Server Access: Some consultants access their client’s data thru their client’s company Hosted Server and works well for both parties.
- You Send It – Web based file transfers where a document/file is compressed and sent via the web. An excellent way to access desktop software applications and send files from one computer to another. Eg. Client needs to send their MYOB data file to accountant who needs to review their accounting file; a student needs to send in an assignment for assessment; photographs can be send in bulk to family members.
MOVING FORWARD THE NEW WAY -
The question of how to “Successfully Work Remotely With Clients” comes up many times during conversation with peers, accounting firms, clients and thru social media network groups. This is an insight of how I perceive some of the challenges have had to overcome during the past 10-15 years. It all comes down to getting the balance right between consultant availability, clients needs, software applications, resolving the immediate problem and whether remote access in the “now time”, will this be a permanent fix or just a work around. What works for one may not for the other, it is a matter of choices and how each consultant is faced with juggling these infinitely tricky and conundrum decisions.
There has been a revolution since web based applications have come to be recognized as “the way of the future”. Sure, we all need to meet and communicate with our clients, view source documentation to ensure compliance is correctly adhered to, for GST and coding purposes. However, before a consultant/bookkeeper considers using remote systems, whether web based apps or logging in remotely “trust has to be earned by both parties”. How do you do this you ask? Show your clients what you can do for them, how you process their accounting remotely, let them see you log into the system, visual demonstrations have far more impact than sending out letters explaining what you would like to do for them, communicate with their accountant, set up a time to visit to demonstrate what you can provide by either a Skype demonstration or a visit to their office, give them a “happiness bubble”, present real time case studies with customer satisfaction appraisals. You will be pleasantly surprised how receptive your clients will be once they fully understand just what you can do for them. With the introduction of web based applications the “sky is the limit” the amount of resources which can be implemented to help your clients move forward into the new generation of software applications is insurmountable, you only have to Google something of interest in Cloud Computing to have pages of subject matter. Have a look at Google Apps to see how Cloud Applications have changed in the past few years.
WEB BASED, SUBSCRIPTON APPLICATIONS
All of the above can be implemented but the burning question is WHY when web-based accounting is readily available with “Add On Solutions” at your finger tips to access your clients accounting. This can be stress free for all concerned – with multiply access which means accountant, bookkeeper, consultant, office staff all have access and using – Quote Hamish Edwards Co-founder of www.xero.com comments on using “Just The One Ledger” Unquote.
For those forward thinking, savvy consultants, accounting firms and companies who are using web-based applications for their accounting, payroll, job management, stock control and the list goes on – the “old way” is not an option. Simply log into their chosen application using email and unique password and process whatever needs to be done. Because no software is installed on the computer there will never be any need to fix a problem with software applications, install updates, load CD’s or download patches, all these plus backups are done automatically and is included in the monthly subscription. So essentially the consultant will be processing what they do best and not have to fix any software problems. Consultants can concentrate on what their client has commissioned them to do – “Bean Counting, processing, process & generate reports, apply payments or provide training and so forth. The consultant will free up valuable time to be able to provide more in-depth training, support and value-added service to their clients.
Web-based Accounting Providers: MYOB – Live Accounts – Check out MYOB’s website and request a trial sign up, the beta trial is available in Australia and New Zealand. I have received a lot of comments from accounting firms who are in process of testing MYOB’s Live Accounts for their Smaller Clients. http://www.liveaccounts.com/
Accounting Software Review Pack – Software Shortlist recently published a comprehensive review for those contemplating the move from desktop software to web based applications. 22 pages of detailed information outlining how this guide was put together plus detailed information on each product, the ratings, ease to use, cost factor, how supported, easy to learn, reporting features and integration with other software. Be quick free download time for the Review Pack is limited. www.softwareshortlist.com.
MY TOOLS OF THE TRADE –what I use using web based applications.
Xero Accounting. www.xero.com – I can be found on Xero’s website under Bookkeeping, Queensland Australia and Global Website. If you would like to try Xero contact me on info provided below or simply log onto Xero website and “Try Xero Business or Personal for Free”.
If you are interested in learning more about Xero and how I can assist you, please do not hesitate to contact me. E: firstname.lastname@example.org ; Skype: gillian.rossouw; M: 0412 352 752
Xero End Of Financial Year Offer: For end of financial year special subscription: Sign up thru Jill of All Trades and receive 1 month’s free subscription. Talk to me and will assist with conversions and setup of your system and provide all the necessary tools to have the “Bankfeeds” in place to have your organization up and running in next to no time.
To have automatic daily “Bankfeeds” in place client needs to have an business account with ANZ bank; CBA bank and NAB. Otherwise export files from other banks can be imported into Xero on an as required basis.
Web Based Payroll Applications:
- Web Payroll https://www.webpayroll.com.au/Default.aspx
- Paycycle http://paycycle.com.au/Home.aspx
See Paycycle’s blog on End Of Financial Year Frequently Asked Questions on printing Payment Summaries. An extract from Paycycle’s blog see below on lodging Payment Summaries to the ATO.
Hints from Paycycle Website – How To Provide Payment Summaries to the ATO.
You might have heard of the ATO’s prefilled report for employees. The information that you supply to the ATO based on the payment summaries is what provides them with this data. The other thing is that the law says you need to provide the ATO with your payment summaries before the 14 July.
The other way is to fill in the paper version of the PAYG payment summary – individual non-business from the ATO. You need to order a printed copy, from the ATO which includes a copy of the instructions by phoning 13 28 66 and ask for the necessary stationery for reporting 2009-10 PAYG withholding obligations.
Job, Time & Invoice Management
- WorkflowMax is a comprehensive online job management solution, combining sales and lead management, time sheeting, quoting, purchase orders and job costing into an intuitive easy to use application. WorkflowMax seamlessly pushes all sales invoices, tracking, contacts and purchase invoices through into Xero. This partnership presents a complete and very powerful business administration package for small businesses who bill for time and costs. http://www.workflowmax.com/
- MinuteDock is a super easy and intuitive online time tracking application, removing all barriers to tracking your time. Get started in 2 minutes with a 14 day no-credit-card-required free trial today and see for yourself!
Document Access & Source Doc Storage
- Drop box
- Shoe boxed
Send in receipts and business cards using pre-paid envelopes, email, or your mobile phone, and Shoeboxed will scan, data enter, and organize them for you. You’ll enjoy new levels of productivity and never lose a deduction or contact again.
I have recently signed up for a trial version – for clients to have their source docs scanned and placed into system for visual confirmation of sighting source docs. Within hours of my signing up for the Trial Version received an envelope ready for me to send off for scanning.
- Alive Docs
Alive Docs Explorer gives you quick access to all your Xero Contacts (Customers and Suppliers) and enables you to quickly send documents like letters, brochures; etc using the Alive Docs Mail Alive Docs enables you to View, Publish, and Distribute your Documents Online Fast.
- View docs quickly directly in your browser.
- Send / Mail Merge docs.
- Publish docs online.
- Word, Excel, PDF.
- Embed Live Data into docs.
- View your contacts from other services together.
- Works with other services.