7 steps towards a more enjoyable Self-Assessment season using tech stacks
We’re back for week two of our 77 steps series, bringing you a massive 11 articles over the coming months with tips, tricks and insights to help you have a more enjoyable Self-Assessment season.
(It’s easy to follow along! Drop us your email address here and we’ll send each week’s steps directly to your inbox)
This time, we’re talking tech stacks. It’s a hot topic at the moment so let's break this down.
What’s a tech stack?
Before we take the next steps on the journey to January, it’s worth explaining how you can think of tech stacks in the context of your business.
In the development world, we think of a tech stack as the combination of technologies a company uses to build and run an application or project.
For an accountancy practice, the definition still applies, but rather than a stack for a singular project you’ll be considering the combination of programs that makes your practice function.
So, are you ready to get into these 7 steps to enjoying Self-Assessment season using tech stacks?
Step 8 – Identify your stack
Every practice will have its own preferred combination of tools to take the initial input of data through to submission.
Take a look at this example map for a practice using BTCSoftware, and use it as a guide as you identify your tech stack.
Preparation is absolutely the key to Self-Assessment season (that’s why we’re sharing this huge list of steps!) and knowledge is the foundation of your prep.
Step 9 – Understand your stack
Now you have your map, it’s time to pick it apart.
If you caught the last edition of this series, you have hopefully been making a note at your desk of any time you think “I wish this was easier”.
Using that list as a prompt, you’ll be able to take a look at where your flow is breaking and where it works well.
You may also have to consider additional inputs, like colleagues working on large accounts together or tricky systems that only come into play in January for a niche client.
Remember, the fewer breaks in your tech stack, the less stress you have!
Step 10 – Map the gaps
You have your map, and you have your list. Now, begin adding that list over your current map.
In the context of Self-Assessment, one common gap we help our incoming customers address is their connection between a year-end set of accounts and the Self-Assessment tax return.
Don’t forget to consider the impact of your gaps. Your goal is to find your pain points and understand why they make your busy season difficult.
Taking our example above, incoming customers often tell us that a lack of integration not only causes them to make avoidable errors but that they waste time tracking back through those errors.
And in January, you need your time to count more than ever!
Step 11 – Paint or plaster?
That crack in the wall is getting worse. What do you do?
That’s the paint or plaster decision, and when it comes to software it’s almost always better to look at the long term solution.
With your hybrid map-wish list, take a look at webinars on YouTube to get an idea of the features available that can plaster the gaps. Being prepared to make big changes can be daunting, but it means you can relax knowing that your cracks won’t reappear anytime soon!
You can see our Tax and Accounts Production webinar here.
Step 12 – Take a closer look!
When you have a shortlist of options that fit your needs, book a demo to find out more.
Be sure to find out about non-functional features too. For example, free support by phone is important to many practices (and it’s an area we excel in, with an average support rating of 92%!)
Also, take a closer look at…
Step 13 – Look to the future
Find out if your shortlisted software will be providing support and solutions for MTD for ITSA.
The introduction of the initiative is likely to create more work for accountants as they work to support their clients, so you need to be sure that you, in turn, will be supported by your software provider and that you won’t have to repeat this process in a year or two when you need compatible Self-Assessment.
Step 14 – Ask questions
We all have plans for the future. Perhaps you currently work in a team of two, but you have ambitions to grow. Be sure to consider how your software can grow with you.
Whether you’re price-conscious or feature-focused, ask how the software can support you and grow with you as your practice changes in the future.
Future-proofing may be a business buzzword but it’s the easiest way to solve your practice headaches in the long term.