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Most Firms Have More Than One Solution for Practice Management Issues

When it comes to practice management, it’s clear that most small and midsized firms aren’t satisfied with just one way to oversee everything a firm does and the myriad of problems they want related tools to solve for.

Jul 17th 2020
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AccountingWEB has been running a practice management tools survey, focused on (among other things) the products firms are using for everyday tasks, and then some. While we plan to run the survey through the summer to gather more data, we thought we’d share some of the highlights with you.

For one, as we mentioned, small and midsized firms we surveyed aren’t just using a practice management system, like a Karbon or an OfficeTools. In fact, only 37 percent said they use products such as those, verses simply cloud email tools like Outlook or Gmail (78 percent). Some (66 percent) said they even used their own cloud accounting systems.

But it goes deeper than that, as our respondents said they use more than one product to manage client communication, contacts, workflow, sales proposals, time tracking and more. See below:

Tools to Manage the Practice (select all that apply)

  • Cloud email (e.g. Office365, Gmail) 78%
  • Cloud accounting (e.g. QBO, Xero) 66%
  • Document management (e.g. OneDrive, Box) 55%
  • Practice/client communication (e.g. Slack, Teams) 38%
  • Practice management (e.g. Karbon, OfficeTools) 37%
  • Capacity planning /time tracking (e.g. TSheets, etc.) 33%
  • Task management (e.g. Smartsheet, Asana) 24%
  • CRM (e.g. Hubspot, Salesforce) 18%
  • Workflow management (e.g. Karbon, XCM) 18%
  • Sales/proposal management (e.g. Practice Ignition, GoProposal) 12%
  • Business intelligence (e.g. PowerBI) 5%

So what pains are firms looking to solve for by using such technology? These answers were also as varied as the tools themselves. We allowed our respondents to choose up to three pain points, with the majority selecting standard processes (50 percent), client management & communication (42 percent), and tracking work in progress (35 percent) as the top three choices.

Here’s the full list of pain points as of this writing:

Top Pain Points PM Solves For (choose up to 3)

  • Standardized processes 50%
  • Client management & communication 42%
  • Visibility across the work//tracking WIP 35%
  • Automation 33%
  • Capacity planning/practice intelligence 22%
  • Document management 22%
  • Replacing outdated technology 20%
  • Team collaboration & communication 18%
  • Single source of truth /integration 16%
  • Team email management 5%

Another surprising finding (to us) was how often, or rather how little, practitioners are even using their practice management tools of choice. In fact, only 26 percent said “all of the time” and 14 percent said they weren’t using them at all.

This has been an issue for many years, with firms investing in systems or individual tools to manage aspects of firm life, only to have them rarely or not used at all. Here’s our findings so far on that front:

How Often Do You Use PM Tools?

  • Most of the time 31%
  • All the time 26%
  • Some of the time 22%
  • Not at all 14%
  • Very little 7%

With all of this internal planning and management going on, what do you suppose firms are looking to do in the next three years? Clearly our current environment may have thrown some of those plans into a spin, but so far the majority (56 percent) of our respondents said they would like to expand the volume of clients they have, while a surprising 45 percent specifically want to focus on adding advisory services.

Here’s the full list of responding firms’ plans over the next three years:

Plans for the Next Three Years (some chose more than one)

  • Focus on expanding the volume of clients 56%
  • Add 'advisory' services 45%
  • Stay broadly the same 37%
  • Add outsourced back office services (AP/AR, etc.) 15%
  • I don't know 6%
  • Exit/sell firm 3%

As I mentioned, we are looking to increase our responses to get an even better picture of practice management decisions. If you haven’t yet, take our short survey for a chance to win a $250 gift card and we will share the full results once our survey period concludes later this summer.

Also, feel free to download our Practice Management Guide to help you make the most informed decisions when it comes to PM tool selection.

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