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How do you track work in your practice of 5-10 people?

How do you track work in your practice of 5-10...

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I'm interested to know what method works best for tracking jobs coming in through to completion, in a small practice of 5-10 staff.

What do people use so that they know what job is where in the work pipeline, who it's allocated to etc, for maximum efficiency?

Does analogue (e.g. a T Card system or similar!) or digital work best?

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By SJRUK
09th Mar 2012 11:44

spreadsheets for us

We use spreadsheets for most things. 

We have a spreadsheet which has all our clients on, with monthly tabs so we know which year end each client is and we use this to write to them for their books and records. 

We then transfer this to a spreadsheet called "Books Requested" and when they come in they are transferred to a spreadsheet called "WIP".  On the WIP spreadsheet  we have teh date rec'd, which client, the year end and who's working on it & space for notes.

Once it's set up its very easy to keep tabs on and works well.

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By refs8
09th Mar 2012 12:09

Spreadsheets

Speadsheets for us as you can colour code and filter

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By Whinger
09th Mar 2012 13:40

spreadsheets

Ooh. Would anyone be willing to email out a blank spreadsheet to have a look at?

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By George Attazder
09th Mar 2012 13:47

When the staff arrive in the morning...

... they all get shackled to their desks and I don't let them go until they've finished their work.  They all thought they were applying for a nice little job in a sweet shop.  None of them can spell for toffee!

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By fpurves
09th Mar 2012 14:20

Centralised practice management system

IRIS for us, however many others out there.

 

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Replying to Ruth Lesley:
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By VLH
22nd Mar 2012 16:40

IRIS job tracking

fpurves wrote:

IRIS for us, however many others out there.

 

 

Same here.

Long ago pre IRIS we had a one sheet summary which tracked the job through the practice.  Once books were in the sheet went into a file with a tab for each manager and weekly meetings checked how the job was progressing.

IRIS works really well if the staff use it and you have set up sensible stages for the jobs.

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By dbowleracca
09th Mar 2012 20:10

Definitely IRIS
Or similar of course!

If you've got 5-10 people, particularly if it's closer to 10, you should really consider using one of the off the shelf practice management solutions out there.

We use IRIS and, in my experience, it's tue best out there. You can track jobs by deadline, job type (accounts, tax etc) partner, job manager or job assignee - and there is a very useful task system for non-recurring work too.

Although it costs more than spreadsheets you would probably find you save more in time than the additional cost, we definitely did.

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Teignmouth
By Paul Scholes
09th Mar 2012 22:48

Count me in...

Have used Iris Practice Management since they brought it out, unlike many off the shelf software it's very flexible, ie you can use the bits that suit you and, if needed short-cut processes.  We use it to manage accounts & tax jobs and also quoting/billing, annual returns, new client take on.

Whatever you take on, it's only of value if everyone in the firm buys into it.

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By ShirleyM
10th Mar 2012 09:11

I haven't seen Iris

Unless they have improved it a lot, the job tracking in CCH and Sage took up more time than it saved. It was too unwieldy, but it could be that, as an ex-software designer, I am more demanding, and less tolerant of badly designed software.

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By Lancsboy2
10th Mar 2012 09:13

regular catch-up + spreadsheet

myself and my "number 1" have a desk meeting for 20 mins every other day-ish to check progress/issues, and i maintain a spreadsheet that has all clients included, allocated to a month.  enables us to control the info requests, WIP, bills, who is doing what, and tardy clients.  also ensures I dont forget to bill a client ... perish the thought!!

 

as we grow i can see a software approach being needed ... for now good old Excel is fine. 

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FirstTab
By FirstTab
10th Mar 2012 15:30

Toodledo is great for recurring deadlines.

I have never used integrated software. I am now too used to the best of breed. Though I think there is something in what others are saying about IRIS and Digita.

 

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By newmoon
13th Mar 2012 07:02

Thanks everyone. So ...

Thanks everyone for comments.

The replies seem to be split mainly between Excel and Iris users, and one Toodledo.

We use Digita and we like the software, so changing to Iris is not feasible for us. We have a central Practice Management database, and write letters etc from this module.

The Digita software tax and company secretarial modules also facilitates tracking tax return progress etc, but as far as I'm aware there isn't the facility to track progress of accounts work ... unless I'm mistaken. There is a module called Tracker that we've only recently installed (and haven't got to grips with), so I need to check whether that does it.

What we are wanting is something that organises clearly tasks such as:

Request accounts documentation, date received, allocated to (staff member), date started, etc. etc. All to be easily visible and reviewable.

From the sounds of it Iris users can do that within their software, and I'll check whether it can be done within Digita Tracker. BUT apart from that does Toodledo do this, and have Excel users designed their own spreadsheet for this, or have they bought in a template?

I saw mention on a similar post of Excel Task List, which sounded like a specific feature or template, but I haven't found specific reference on Google, so am wondering what the Excel users do? Are people using just a simple spreadsheet with a client list and columns for the various tasks?

thanks.

 

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Replying to Michael C Feltham:
By coolmanwithbeard
13th Mar 2012 07:20

Digita

Hi

I use Digita too and feel the same - that there should be some way of tracking accounts and there isn't. I looked at the tracker module - and I think you can get it to track most things - but it doesn't draw info from the other packages - which would have been good.

 

As I like the Digita stuff other than this I dont want to move either

 

Logical office would appear to do what we want - but I haven't yet looked all that closely at it

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By petersaxton
13th Mar 2012 09:19

Digita

I use Digita and you can set it up to track everything. Unfortunately it isn't done automatically. I would like to find time to set it up properly but as I am a sole practitioner I can get by using Excel - it's less efficient but flexible!

If I had 5 - 10 staff I would make the effort to use Digita's tracker.

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Della Hudson FCA
By Della Hudson
13th Mar 2012 11:36

Logical office

I moved from excel to Logical Office as it is all in one place instead of several spreadsheets.  

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Nigel Harris
By Nigel Harris
13th Mar 2012 12:41

Low tech has a lot going for it

We use Practice Engine for time/fees but the workflow is unuseable. We are playing with our own Intranet workflow solution at the moment, but currently we find T-cards for records in and in progress, and a big whiteboard for staff work planning does the job just fine!

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By bennorwell
13th Mar 2012 13:20

Glide Practice Intelligence

Hi,

Sounds like you are in the exact situation we were in a couple of years back having outgrown the spreadsheet. We use a top end practice management system but the workflow side is an afterthought and so of course does not do what you want it to do.

We worked with a local software developer to create Glide and have now been using it for 2 years. As I now work for the company part time I won't comment on how good it is, but would be happy to arrange a webinar or demo if anyone is interested.

Our practice has about 20 staff in the accounts team however since creating the system most enquiries have been from smaller practices and sole traders - therefore the developers are now working on another version to specifically cater for the smaller practice which also tracks VAT returns, payroll, etc. The current system is designed mainly for accounts, audit and corporation tax.

If you would like more info please do get in touch.

Cheers, Ben

[email protected]

www.whatsglide.com

07738 766623

0845 6437380

 

 

 

 

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By Whinger
13th Mar 2012 17:37

interesting
Interesting thread. I like the look of logical office and also glide. But they don't put prices on the website. Are they expensive?

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By martin.curtis
16th Mar 2012 15:26

Access

We use Access. It is quite easy to create a database which tracks the date the carrier bag arrives, when the work is started and by whom and when it is completed. For us the same database also tracks tax returns, cmas card list and company filing. It plays with others well so it is straight-forward to create accounts chase letters and tax return letters etc via mail merge. The reporting is much stronger than in Excel and can be tailored to suit the needs at that moment.

I have looked around but haven't found anything to compare for a similar sort of outlay

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By remhonps
16th Mar 2012 16:22

ACT

Don't underestimate something like ACT from Sage. We find it a great help in Practice Management in general and tracking work in particular. ACT can be set up to generate reminders and allocate chase tasks - some of which can be automated.

Good links with WORD and outlook means templates are easy to set up for a consistent approach. Investment in an ACT! consultant to come in and configure the screens and fields is worthwhile. The reports output is also v.good and can be developed in many aspects of the practice.

Also look at BTC tax software that, apart from other virtues - including ease of use, cost and multi-use - offers a practice management option.

We've bundled in VT and Invu and are sorted.

 

Peter T

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By petersaxton
16th Mar 2012 17:14

Access

Martin's idea of using Access is the best. Even though many accountants can produce a simple Access database I think it's better to find somebody who can write a database application efficiently and keep improving it.

I have seen Iris and the practice management seems pretty good out of the box but it was a little inflexible. Most programs always have a few things you don't like.

Digita's Practice Management module seems very flexible but because of this it needs a lot of time invested in it to do what you want.

As a sole practitioner, I mainly use Excel because it is easy for me to understand, adjust and update. Obviously it's not the most efficient method but it's simple.

 

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