Eleven cool mobile apps for running your practice

By Brett Owens

We recently featured five cool Web apps for running your firm that were highly recommended by your accounting colleagues. Now we're going to stay on the productivity app beat and take a look at mobile devices.
Why mobile? It's the age of the connected accountant

We asked Rick Telberg, president and CEO of Bay Street Group LLC, the provider of CPA Trendlines research, for his thoughts and research on mobile productivity for CPAs. He references something relatively new for the profession: The Connected Accountant.

"Bay Street Group estimates that the added productivity provided by a best-in-class smartphone solution could yield more than $32,000 annually in increased realization for a partner at a small or medium-sized firm," says Telberg. "Today's professional must be on call -- and on the ball -- 24/7, or client satisfaction will suffer, staff utilization will wane, or billable hours will go unbilled. The new breed of professional could be called The Connected Accountant -- evolved to act and react instantaneously, at any time and from anywhere."

He continues: "The solution is total mobility, granting the practitioner instant access to whomever and whatever he or she needs. The new power provided by the right smartphone mobility solution can help a local firm, which represents the vast majority of practice units, compete on an even playing field with the Big 4 global behemoths."

Telberg says his surveys show that accounting firm leaders agree that mobile capabilities:

  • increase personal productivity
  • improve client service and satisfaction
  • increase billable hours
  • improve communications and coordination with colleagues
  • enhance work/life balance

Alright, now that you're sold on getting a smartphone, or already in love with your current one, let's talk about the mobile apps your colleagues find the most helpful in running their practice.

VOIP and phone alternatives

Popular chat and (mostly) free VOIP app Skype has nice mobile versions and now supports video calls on several platforms as well. If you're outside of your voice network, but can get access to WiFi, you can use Skype to make phone calls in places where calls are impossible or cost prohibitive, such as foreign countries.

Tech enthusiast Wray Rives, CPA also loves Google Voice for centralizing his communication. "I have several different phone numbers, all of which can forward to a Google Voice number that rings to my cell phone. If I am in a meeting and can't take a call, I still get an email and text message with a transcribed copy of the voice mail."

Productivity apps

Evernote received some love again this month -- this time for its mobile prowess. Tom Achor, CPA, says Evernote is his "most used app for capturing data across platforms."

Rives again cites Google Apps' seamless integration as the best part of his new Android phone. I And have to concur with Rives; if you are running an Android, and you're not yet a full-time convert to Gmail, think about doing it now. The seamless integration will save you a ton of time and effort.

Basecamp user Joe Oringel raved about this company's smartphone versions, saying "they've done a great job of implementing it for mobile." Oringel's firm uses Basecamp for its project management needs -- specifically for to-dos, milestones, and secure message and file storage.

Scheduling and getting things done

Scheduling app Tungle.me has been a hit with busy folks who need a hand coordinating openings in busy personal schedules. Oringel says Tungle is "great for letting clients and partners schedule meetings across multiple enterprises, too."

Finally, ToDo Matrix is a "great app" for task management according to Michael McGuigan -- although it is currently only available on the BlackBerry platform. Mac users may want to check out Achor's recommendation Things, a GTD task management app that sync across Apple platforms seamlessly.

Social networking on the go

Chuck Manganiello, CPA, likes the mobile version of LinkedIn for his iPhone and iPad (it also runs now on the BlackBerry and the Android phone). And Twitter's mobile app was the top pick for Becky Livingston, senior manager of Online Production Social Media at CPA2BIZ.

Personally, the Twitter for Android was a game changer for me. I stay logged in to my company's Twitter account and I've got the Droid setup to beep at me whenever @Chrometa is mentioned in a Tweet. How's that for real-time intelligence.

And one for your clients, too 

Andrew Schwartz, CPA, put on his entrepreneur hat and created a mobile app for his clients. The app, UDoGood, is used by several of his clients to track their non-cash contributions. If your clients need a hand tracking their tax deductible donations, UDoGood is a great one to have them check out.

About the author:

Brett Owens is CEO and Co-Founder of Chrometa, a Sacramento, Calif.-based provider of time management software that accurately records and reports back how you spend your time. Previously marketed to only the legal community, Chrometa is branching out to accounting prospects. Gains include the ability to discover previously undocumented billable time, saving time on billing reconciliation and improving personal productivity. Brett is also a blogger and founder at ContraryInvesting.com, as well as a regular contributor to two leading financial media sites, SeekingAlpha.com and Minyanville.

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