About now is the time of year you ask yourself, “How is it busy season again??” Especially when most firms today don’t really have a ton of down time, tax season can be especially fraught. It’s an annual dance, no doubt — with a friend who just can’t seem to stop stepping on your feet.
One of the biggest drains on your time in tax season is write-up work. The hours it takes to enter, analyze and code transactions to produce your financial statement is just part of the pain, too. There are paper-heavy clients (with the proverbial shoebox — you know the kind), the difficulty of finding and retaining good seasonal contract staff to help out, and chasing after clients for information they should probably have had to you weeks ago.
Your basic headache.
So, should we stop offering write-up?
In recent years, many firms have stopped doing write-up work entirely. It’s not high-value, and it’s difficult to make much if any revenue from it. And forget explaining to clients why it takes so long. But where does that leave your firm? Like most things, there is something of a trade-off when you choose to stop doing it. There are a few things worth considering.
Quality, economy, and security
Traditional outsourcing and/or offshoring can be a good solution in some cases. It removes staff management concerns and often provides service at a reasonable price point. However, you also give up a little control — oftentimes these solutions don’t provide for a convenient way for you to monitor progress, and individual clients might be completely cut out — meaning you act as middleman when information is needed. Also, there is no lift in quality — the work is usually still being done manually by people who are subject to the same mistakes and errors as your own internal staff.
Additionally, ROI is always a concern when spending money for a solution. Traditional outsourcing and offshoring offer a variety of service levels and price points, but pinpointing the right fit for your budget is truly difficult when it comes to replacing a low-value service like write-up. You’ll have to make sure you understand how the outsourced or offshored solution assigns work; whether you’ll have access to the employees doing the write-ups; how often their staff turn over; and how wages could affect your expense.
Another consideration includes the fact that many outsourced options fluctuate their pricing with demand, meaning you could pay more come busy season. A final note on security: if the solution isn’t SOC 2 Type 1 certified, your clients’ important financial data could be at risk.
You should seek a straightforward, repeatable process with reliable outputs and a single point of contact for correcting problems, while having a good understanding of your return on the investment. Or else you wind up right back where you started: with a basic headache.
If your firm is seeking to be a one-stop shop for its clients, but you send them to a third party for their write-up, you’re creating a poor experience. Imagine if your car broke down because your transmission is shot. You bring it to the shop, where they tell you to go somewhere else to pick up a new transmission for them.
You’d be annoyed, right?
Clients don’t want to have to make multiple calls and deal with multiple service providers to get their taxes done. They just want to answer some quick questions, provide access to the right materials and leave it in your hands. So while write-up work isn’t sexy or a real revenue generator, the convenience to your clients is enormous. It generates a halo effect that carries over to your other, more valuable services.
Offering write-up in-house is more convenient for your firm, too. The more participants you add to your tax-time process, the more complicated things get — and the more likely something will break down.
So in the end, no — your firm really shouldn’t give up on write-up work. But if it’s not necessarily best for your staff to do it, and you want to avoid outsourcing or offshoring it, what do you do?
You knew we’d say automation, right?
Of course you did.
But hear us out, here. An automated write-up solution would ideally allow you to be proactive, having your financial reports ready for tax time in advance. It would keep this incredibly low-value work off your staff’s plates, allowing them to focus on more of the services you want to pursue and, OH YEAH, also letting them actually get the returns completed. It’s delivered with a clear understanding of how secure it is (and is verifiable). It can scale with you, with no worries of a service provider’s own capacity issues getting in the way. Plus you’ll have predictable, easy-to-understand billing.
Best of all, you’ll be able to offer your clients end-to-end services at tax time, without needing to send them on a wild goose chase or sending their records off into the ether while crossing your fingers about security.
Botkeeper offers just such a solution. Be honest, you saw that coming, didn’t you?
Rapid Write-Up provides a secure portal your clients can use to manually upload, or automatically fetch their bank statements. It analyzes the transactions, and ingests them into a GL. From there, it codes the transactions and produces a balance sheet, P&L statement, uncategorized transactions reports and trial balance for the client. The Rapid Write-Up solution even includes converting QBD files and checking our work or any inconsistencies to ensure quality — something your firm doesn’t lose control of, since you’ll also have access to the GL.
Rapid Write-Up comes with either an annual or a quarterly option. The quarterly option allows you to normalize a client's bookkeeping throughout the year by encouraging statements at least quarterly/bi-annually or setting up the system to automatically pull and reconcile them quarterly. You can also turn an annual client into a recurring quarterly / semi-annual revenue stream or, at a minimum, reduce your work for that client at year end by spreading it out throughout the year.
With Rapid Write-Up you can finally get ahead of the next tax year by providing and using financials through Q3 for tax planning purposes — before it’s too late and you’re left scrambling.
Ready to learn more? All you have to do is click the button below and you’ll be on your way to making tax season much easier to handle.