Last updated: September 6, 2023

5 steps to choosing the right practice management system

Eleanor VaugheySeptember 4, 2023

Is your attention being pulled in a million different directions? Between all the different software and spreadsheets to jump between, running a busy firm can have you feeling like a headless chicken driving through a thick fog – disorientated and frustrated. You may have heard of accountants who were in the same boat, but found a way out thanks to practice management software

With its automation capabilities, and its potential to streamline processes in ways you never thought possible, it seems like a win-win. However, a lot of time can be wasted moving to a new system – especially if you’re not even sure if it’s a right move for your firm. Your staff may be reluctant to move too, so how can you choose a system that best fits your firm’s unique needs? Here are five steps on how to choose the perfect practice management tool for your firm. 

1. Bring your team on the journey 

Your practice management software is the centre of your practice. Onboarding clients, managing work in progress, and sharing and signing documents. Change isn’t always easy either, so it only makes sense for your team to buy into the idea of the software and the provider you choose to go for. 

Explain in practical terms how practice management software will help your whole organisation at an individual, team and practice level. Using cloud software is a step forward, no matter what your goals are – and make that connection for your team. You could be taking on this new software to empower staff, provide an easier experience for your clients, or to free up leadership. Whatever the case may be, explain how this will drive your vision forward and make everyone’s lives that little bit easier. Just telling your team to use software that the leadership team has chosen is not the way to go. Make sure you’re solving problems for everyone with the software you choose. 

2. Work out what you need 

Think of areas you’d love to automate the most across your practice and which time-consuming tasks you’d like to eradicate. To make this easier, map out your existing processes for one client. Follow the journey from onboarding, through various compliance tasks to invoicing. Where are the bottlenecks? Where are the inefficiencies?  

Some areas to consider are your software integrations. Nobody enjoys having to enter the same figures into multiple software. Not only that, but exporting and uploading files to various websites can be a pain, especially when there’s submission issues. Other areas to consider is how you track work in progress, communicate, and share and store client information. You could even estimate the amount of time certain things take. This is an excellent way to see how much time your practice management system is saving you further down the line and assess your return on investment. 

3. Ask around 

If you know people at other practices, see what software they use and ask them what they think. Online reviews are also a great way to get under the skin of a brand and hear directly from their users. You could search what people are saying on LinkedIn, Google reviews, Capterra – the software review and comparison site – or forums, like the one on AccountingWEB. 

“I thought I’d give it a go for three or four months and see how it is. And... loved it! Now, without AccountancyManager, I’d be sobbing gently in the corner! I would’ve had to have stopped taking on clients much further back.” 

Carolyn Cullen, Monton Green Accountancy Ltd 

4. Be systematic 

The more measurable your research is, the easier your decision will be. Consider setting up some comparison charts, pros and cons lists or consistent ratings criteria. Using App Advisory Plus’s “App Stack Builder”, you can put together your own comparison chart of a few different practice management systems, based on your priorities. 

Take Bright’s practice management software, AccountancyManager for example. It offers a comprehensive task management system and lets you see work in progress. Plus, it has an all-in-one central hub to store and share documents (RIP those ten spreadsheets you juggle between every morning). It also integrates with Companies House and accounting software too so your client details, deadlines and invoices up to date. This all means less time spent yelling at your laptop, and more time to enjoy your morning coffee. AccountancyManager is a one-size-fits-all system too, so whether you have five or fifty clients, you can tailor the system to best suit your firm’s individual needs. 

5. Don’t just look at the software 

You don’t rent a house without taking into account its history or the neighbourhood. After all, it’s not just the features of the house you’re renting, but the whole experience of living in it. Same goes for any software you use. Trying it out for a month or two will show you around the ‘house’. 

But what are the people behind the software like? Do a little investigative work to see what the brand stands for. Find out what the support team is like, how often they release new features, and the brand’s story and awards they’ve won. Here at Bright, we’re home to multi-award-winning product suite, including AccountancyManager. Our practice management software has won ‘Practice management software of the year’ at the Luca awards and ‘Top product’ in the practice management category at the AccountingWEB Software Awards in 2021. You can even check out Leigh’s story on how he tackled the ‘spreadsheet monster’ with AccountancyManager.

“AM is always evolving and has become crucial to our day-to-day operations in respect of on-boarding, workflows and client exchanges. It is easy to use and the guys behind it are always improving the features to ensure it just gets better!” 

Elliot Cargill, Charlton Baker Ltd 

Take a peek at the software first 

It’s always a good idea to hop on a demo and get an up-close look at software before you commit to anything. Here at Bright, we’re on a mission to make a happy and efficient working life a reality for accountants through reliable software and amazing support. If you’d like to see our practice management software in action (or any of our other multi-award software range) just click the link below. 

 

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