Working online should mean working closer.
Online application services represent the best way to work more closely with your clients while decreasing your overall costs of maintaining technology. But using online application services introduce new and sometimes challenging issues, such as getting source documents from clients, and establishing a workflow process that meets the needs of both the client and the practice. While there are a wide variety of online accounting and business applications currently available to address a number of business process outsourcing situations, it would seem that some of the most basic and fundamental tools necessary to facilitate this business model have been forgotten.
There are basic truths involved in every professional services engagement: You and your client will share information – much of it confidential in nature; there will be tasks and deliverables on both sides of the relationship, and most of them will have date or time sensitivity; and there will be data… files and documents and any number of bits of information that you will need to share. There is no single online application that will fully meet all your firm and client requirements. But these fundamental “truths” exist in every single engagement. Where does you firm find the solution to this very basic need?
The answer is with Website services. That’s a pretty broad description, but it’s the place where you will find the solution to manage your engagement fundamentals. Your Website has the ability to do business with your clients at any time. Imagine communicating with your client base, sharing documents, exchanging task and contact information… at any time and operational from any location. You and your clients – and your team members – can now interact as time permits and when it is convenient for all. Clients login to a secure, personal portal where they can manage all the fundamental aspects of their business relationship with you. From this secure environment, users are able to launch the application services and solutions that they use to perform their daily work.
When a professional firm utilizes its Website as a venue for providing customer service and support, the site becomes an asset of the firm – worthy of further investment and business support. Much more than a brochure site, a working Website becomes a function of firm business development and serves to help drive more and better business to the practice.
A number of application providers have realized this benefit, and have begun delivering client portal systems to support their online applications. But the real benefit to the firm is in being able to launch and interact with all clients and with a variety of online application services and systems from a single portal provider. Check with your webmaster or Website services provider to see if your site can offer the business benefits of anytime, anywhere service to your clients.
Joanie Mann is Vice President of Strategic Alliances for InsynQ, Inc., and has over 25 years of experience in business process automation, information technology design and implementation, and information systems management. InsynQ is an ASP (application service provider) and MSP (managed services provider) offering online business applications and information technology management services. Through the e-Accounting business unit (www.CPA-ASP.com), InsynQ offers systems and solutions designed specifically to help accounting professionals and their clients work closer together more effectively and efficiently.