Today in the US, accounting and other professional services firms are finding themselves in a significantly changing environment. The Andersen/Enron debacle, consolidations, the increasing number of organizations offering competitive services, etc. are forcing firms to look hard at their core business processes and adjust to meet these changes. Improving Practice Development, Resource Management, Client/Service Management and Firm Management is more critical today than ever before.;
Typically, accounting firms have 50-75 applications in house, few of which integrate together. This translates to inefficient use of critical knowledge – client information (biographical, service related, management related, etc.). These “islands” break the natural flow of information throughout the firm.
Knowledge Concepts’ FirmWorks breaks down these barriers, allowing firms to develop standardization to process and creating a highly efficient and profitable firm. FirmWorks was built based upon extensive consulting experience within the CPA industry. FirmWorks integrates with Lotus Notes and Microsoft Outlook. This allows firms to leverage the collaboration/communications environment already in place.
The areas addressed by FirmWorks are: Client Relationship Management, Project Management, Engagement Management, Document Management, Knowledge Management and Opportunity Management.
FirmWorks is designed to streamline the operations of a service organization by providing a single point metaphor. Staff can easily contribute, add, review and communicate information about any functional area within the services organization. Firms can forecast revenues, evaluate clients for ranking, perform marketing campaigns, track opportunities, track project due dates, schedule staff, monitor work inventory, track collections, store intellectual capital, and more for access via the Net or otherwise.
FirmWorks automatically and persistently pulls information from the firm’s existing time and billing system. This “enter once -use many” model greatly reduces redundant data entry and eliminates data rekey errors.
Microsoft Office Integration
FirmWorks has the ability to create, store and retrieve a great deal of Office documents. During the development stages of FirmWorks, and after thorough evaluation, SWING Integrator for Notes & Office was selected as the best candidate for the integration of Microsoft Office and FirmWorks. The reason behind this was that SWING Integrator provided the best solution for Knowledge Concepts, Inc. and FirmWorks.
Specifically, Knowledge Concepts, Inc. has created functionality that allows users to develop customized template documents for storage and retrieval in FirmWorks. After creating a template, SWING Integrator provides a method to link the template document to FirmWorks. No longer does a staff member have to wait for an administrative person to locate the correct document, type it out and send to another staff member for review. Now, the document is automatically created, and can be edited in Word or Excel directly. When the file/save command is executed, the template can be automatically saved directly to the client, prospect or other specific entity’s electronic location.
Events are recorded as ‘activities’ within FirmWorks and can be associated to specific opportunities (prospective clients), specific client issues, services, etc. The ability to automate the activity’s creation and the ease of saving documents within the client / prospect’s activity is extremely beneficial for future reference. Wasted time is eliminated by having instant access to this information by any staff member, at any time, from any location.
With FirmWorks, staff members can access information and manage processes in all key areas. FirmWorks makes it extremely easy for staff to collect information, contribute information, review information and execute decisions on the end product (knowledge) within the firm in an extremely efficient manner. There is a great need to produce documents, mailings, client letters, proposals and many other important documents. SWING Integrator makes the process exceptionally easy.
Professional Service Firms using FirmWorks Typically see a 4-10% Increase in Resource Utilization.
This significant benefit is currently being realized by the CPA firm Beason & Nalley, P.C. located in Alabama. As stated by Don Nalley, to date (and they anticipate much more) they have seen major improvements in areas such as tax return tracking, project tracking and more. Client comments and request for work has been enhanced as a result of FirmWorks.
Windes & McClaughry, a CPA firm in the Los Angeles area, experienced tremendous savings. Kathi Rank, the audit partner, runs her billings approximately 15 times a year. She indicated that the simple routine of storing the document in FirmWorks saves her 45 minutes each billing cycle. This translates into huge savings, considering the number of billers within the firm.
To say that this is the tip of the iceberg would be an extreme understatement. FirmWorks is not just for accounting firms, but for all professional service organizations. Firms have too many databases, too little time and too much to do. FirmWorks gets everyone on the same page.