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TaxCalc Blog

News and events from TaxCalc

Pauline Smith (8)
07 April 2020

Business as usual, in unusual times.

A SimpleStep Guide to Business Continuity.
By TaxCalc. The Digital Practice People.

We're living in very strange and surreal times. Times when we have to self-isolate, where we can no longer go into the office or meet our clients face-to-face. Times when we have to find other ways to communicate with each other and access our systems remotely.

Businesses are being forced to rethink how they work and how to adapt in a very short time frame.

So how can you keep your business running - as well providing your clients with the support they need to keep their businesses running too?

We’ve put together this article to offer practical and useful advice for you and your clients, covering essential topics such as:

We hope it you find it useful. Stay safe.

Optimising your operations

Systems Access

It's imperative you can access your business-critical systems and applications to maintain your daily working needs which may now be quite a challenge with not being physically in the office and everyone working from home.

Connectivity to the office can be achieved using remote access to your businesses network but can be fraught with technical complexities and a lot of additional costs to ensure access is reliable and secure. An alternative could be to look at specific applications being accessible online such as using TaxCalc CloudConnect. CloudConnect enables you and your staff to work on TaxCalc remotely, securely and safely. You can connect at any time, giving you the flexibility you need to fit in with potential changes in your working arrangements.

Information Access

To undertake your day-to-day activities, having access to your clients’ information may be essential, especially where your records are stored on paper. Working remotely makes it impossible to retrieve client information from one of the many filing cabinets in the office. In this current climate of social distancing and restrictions of only essential travel, it will ultimately result in the information being inaccessible or requiring additional follow-up with clients to elicit the details all over again. Storing your data electronically, or online can mitigate this particular challenge and using the TaxCalc Document Manager powered by SmartVault solution means you can store, share, manage and access all your firm and client documents securely in an easy to use cloud-based solution.

Support Access

Remote working means the office guru is harder to get hold of - and it’s not as easy to ask quick questions to the office know-it-all on how to perform certain tasks adequately relating to expected standard processes as well as software usage.

It would be helpful to set up and distribute a list of key contacts:

  • Staff to contact for specific type of in-house queries or areas of responsibility where they are the best contact
  • Key external contacts for governing bodies, account managers, outsourcing providers, for example, bookkeeping, payroll, etc
  • Support channels (help, knowledge base, etc) and contact details (phone, email, etc) for each key software application used in the office

Rest assured that anything you need to know about the family of TaxCalc products can be obtained by:

Flexible working: The new normal

Maintaining the nine-to-five may not be very practical for staff or clients. This creates new challenges around workload and time tracking. It could also be viewed as an opportunity to provide your clients an out of hours service.

Workload

Managing your Practice without being in the office can make it significantly harder to see what's going on around the office, who is working on what job, which job is progressing, which job has not yet been assigned. Your existing tools may make this activity cumbersome in remote working conditions and require frequent and regular contact with colleagues to obtain progress updates. This can become a full-time job, but essential to ensure time is used efficiently on the right priorities.

Tracking progress of outstanding work and prioritisation can also be easily managed through using Services, Jobs and Tasks in TaxCalc Practice Manager Plus. See each stage of work, where in the process the work is and who is assigned to each Job or Task. By using the Notes option, you can inform your team instantly on specific progress, actions and any important information.

Hours

Many people will be facing the difficult task of juggling their new home working arrangements with additional childcare needs. Without adequate working space or other responsible adults to care for dependants the next best solution is to review working hours to accommodate the new work and home life balance. Permitting flexible working, different hours including broken shifts and weekend work for various people will be essential but can make it difficult to keep track of what has been worked on and when. Time recording and time sheets can really help monitor work activity. Staff can log and track their hours across job functions in TaxCalc Time, making it easy to assess, analyse and approve the time spent both on billable and non-billable activities.

Prepare to take on new clients

Businesses and individuals may be seeking the advice of accountants more than ever with the complex set of measures being announced daily to support them through this difficult period. However, you still need to know your client before you act for them. If providing services to clients, you have a legal obligation to keep anti-money laundering records. Consider using a tool such as TaxCalc AML Identity Checking which allows you to run electronic identity checks meaning you can still corroborate your client's authenticity without having to meet in the flesh face to face and if any additional records are obtained or manual checks performed they can all be tracked and recorded within TaxCalc AML Centre.

Collaboration in a remotely-connected world

Be inventive with your methods of communication to effectively collaborate with your clients. Use video calls via SkypeGoogle Duo, GoToMeeting, FaceTime etc (please note that other similar conferencing services are available, we do not recommend one service over any other), as well as the traditional methods such as voice calls and email.

Be aware that clients may be operating from alternative locations and have you thought about gathering alternative contact details? Any additional contact information can easily be stored in TaxCalc by setting up a custom field in Practice Manager to add to your client records which can be included in a simple report to review all the information you have collected or may need to collect.

Expedite communication and sharing information across your client base or to specific clients using TaxCalc Document Manager powered by SmartVault. Not only does this product provide an internal document storage solution it also includes a client portal for quickly sharing documents with clients and keeping them all in one place.

Also digitise your signing process, save money, paper, ink and relieve some of the pressure on our Royal Mail postal system with TaxCalc eSign Centre. Using digital envelopes, email documents for electronic sign-off where clients can sign on any device - smartphone, tablet, laptop and desktop – from anywhere at any time.

Becoming a trusted advisor

For businesses to keep operational, individuals may be seeking the advice of accountants more than ever on how to achieve that. With so many options available to businesses required in such a short space of time, consider:

  • HOW you want to educate your clients and raise awareness to key information that will support them? Such as mailshots, letters, newsletters, text messages, website landing page.
  • WHICH measures to be PROACTIVELY identifying and contacting clients about and which to advise on REACTIVELY, as appropriate, when raised by clients.

Technology to the rescue

Updating yourself with technological options for remote working, how to diversify current business operations, establishing inventive methods to maintain cashflow and understanding the complex set of measures being announced daily to support businesses and individuals will put you in a fantastic place to advise them through this difficult period.

Support

The government are providing some very useful resources that are worth watching closely and regularly reviewing for the latest measures and options available to businesses and employees:

Healthy people make a healthy business

Most importantly, here are some simple actions you can take to keep your mental and physical health in check.

  • Keep in contact with your colleagues as often as you can, however you can. It is human nature to thrive from human contact and this can easily be achieved using video calling, emailing, messaging, etc. There are lots of ways to stay in touch so make time to interact in different ways
  • Take regular breaks to get away from your screen
  • Make sure you have lunch
  • Go for a walk on your own or with members of your household
  • Set work time boundaries, we all know how easy it is to put in those additional hours when working from home
  • Establish methods to self-educate and expand your knowledge, make time to upskill or learn something new, like Practice Manager Plus. You can now take a free 14-day trial using the demo database to see the features in action without affecting your live data!

Products to help you manage more effectively during these unusual times:

TaxCalc CloudConnect

TaxCalc Document Manager powered by SmartVault

TaxCalc Practice Manager Plus

TaxCalc Time

TaxCalc AML Identity Checking

TaxCalc AML Centre

TaxCalc eSign Centre

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