I’ve seen many accounting and bookkeeping professionals struggle to figure out what to use to manage their engagements.

I think many of the tools out there can work, but I have settled in on one as my top choice. It is an out of the box solution that has everything you need to set up command central for all of your accounting projects. Here’s how to manage your accounting projects more effectively with Activecollab.

Ultimately you’ll want to create a template, so that every time you have a new client, you have the foundation set up in a click. But first, I suggest setting up a dummy project so you can play around with what you need.

The trick is in how you set up your task lists. This is the backbone of how your project is structured.

Some of you are going to want to set these up based on frequency, such as monthly, quarterly, and annually.

Don’t DO This!

You can set up recurring tasks in Activecollab, so using your task lists in this manner is redundant.

You’re wasting the feature.

As I’ve often taught, when it comes to compiling, and then managing a set of books, it all comes down to the balance sheet. At last year’s QuickBooks Connect, during my talk I mentioned that I set up my Slack Workspaces this way. We create channels for major areas of the balance sheet.

  • Banking.
  • Accounts Receivable.
  • Inventory if applicable.
  • Accounts Payable
  • Payroll (liabilities)
  • Sales Tax
  • Owner’s Equity

This makes sense, because these are all of the things that have to be “managed” in order to keep the books up to date and accurate.

Using the balance sheet as your guide is how you manage your accounting projects more effectively. Activecollab is the tool.

You set up task lists based on the major areas of the balance sheet that you have to manage. So ours looks something like this:

  • Inbox
  • Client Onboarding
  • Reference
  • Banking
  • Cash Flow Projections
  • Accounts Receivable
  • Accounts Payable
  • Payroll
  • Sales Tax
  • Taxes
  • Owner’s Equity

Of course you can add other things as you go.

The Inbox

Notice I started with some non-balance sheet items as well. The inbox is the default. This is where emails go when they are forwarded, and they can easily be moved to the appropriate list from there.

On Boarding

This is pretty straightforward. It’s the tasks that need to get completed in order to on board the client. Once this part is complete, just like a task, you can mark an entire task list complete. This means the information is there in case you need to reference it later on, but it’s out of the way when you have completed the process.

Reference

This is that list of tasks that will generally never be completed. This is the specific part that turns activecollab into command central. In other words, whenever it’s time to work on a client, Activecollab is the one and only place you need to go for access to any / everything else having to do with that client.

I create tasks with links to the client’s Google Drive folders, Smartsheet Workspace, and even the company profile in Nimble (our cloud based CRM).

The Balance Sheet

Then we start with the balance sheet areas as task lists.

First is the Bank Accounts task list. The first, and most obvious thing is that you will have recurring monthly tasks to reconcile each account based on the account’s statement closing date.

The rest of this should be pretty self explanatory. You create the task lists to keep the tasks organized by area. Then you start creating tasks and assigning them to people as needed.

Active Collab has an amazing report module that lets you view things anyway you need. Think “Pivot Table” for your project management data.

Notes

The notes are really useful for keeping track of… well… notes! I use this for meeting notes, when I have a call with the client. We also have a standard note built into our project template called, “About Client X.” This is where we keep general information about the client.

As your team grows, this can be a useful way to give new hires a place to go to read and learn about the client. A knowledge base of sorts.

As I am growing the consulting arm of Nerd Enterprises, Inc. I am more focused on streamlining every single process. I think about what I want in place, so that as I hire new people, I can automate the process of training them on the clients they’re assigned as much as possible.

Discussions

I don’t use this in Activecollab, because Slack handles this much better.

Labels

You can also use labels in Activecollab to further organize your tasks. These can be used in any way you like, but remember not to waste a feature on something, where there is already a process for it. Some people want to use labels for due date proximity, as in:

  • Today
  • Tomorrow
  • Soon
  • WIP

As long as you have assigned due dates to everything, the above can be accomplished through reports. The WIP option can be accomplished by assigning both start, and due dates to tasks.

The key to understanding how to manage your accounting projects more effectively with Activecollab or any product is learning everything it can do. When you learn every feature that a product has, then you can understand how to avoid redundancies, as well as simply how to get the most out of the product.

Activecollab is easy to use, and as I mentioned above, it is an out of the box, ready solution for managing all of your engagements.

Once you have outlined your sample project, you can use that as a guide for building your template. The video above will show you how to set up a project, and then a template for how to manage your accounting projects more effectively with Activecollab.

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