Practice management - case studies


Hear from accountants that have recently swicthed practice management providers...

Martin Bown, the founder of My Management Accountant based in Huddersfield, recently moved to the practice management software Karbon. He explains his reasons behind this decision.

With regards to choosing a workflow solution, our initial driver was to have a solution that suits the way our business works today as well as assisting us in the future as we continue to grow.

We had identified the need for a solution as one of our key goals for 2020 and we had started to test a couple of different options well before lockdown and remote working happened as a result of COVID. Obviously, the way this year has gone has confirmed our need for a new solution but it wasn’t our key driver.

This is our first dedicated workflow software replacing collective to do lists plus our own to do lists which were in a combination of digital, paper and whiteboard formats! It worked but only with a lot of unnecessary thinking power, and whilst it very rarely happened, this method did run the risk of us missing key tasks and would hinder any growth ambitions.

We use Practice Ignition (PI) which obviously forms the basis of any work agreement we have with a client, so integration with PI was an absolute given - and preferably a direct integration rather than via a third party such as Zapier.

This integration means we can then create to do lists for each member of the team or teams within the business based on ongoing signed client proposals and give the whole team visibility to see what work needs to be completed and by when.

The ability of members of the team to see communication with clients was also important as this avoided us all individually contacting clients from our own email accounts.

We also needed a solution that would allow us to build and edit workflow templates that we can assign to tasks and individuals time and time again. For example, this could be for monthly management accounts, payroll, or ad-hoc work such as a Sage to Xero conversion work. The ability to be able to bring clients into those workflows when needed was also really important.

As Xero gold partners and a completely digital business, we’re well used to the SaaS model so, within reason, the cost wasn’t an issue. We’re no different to lots of other firms of accountants and do work for clients that we don’t end up charging for so we do expect that the improved efficiencies plus the ability to see who is doing what work for which client, will mean that we will more than recoup the monthly charge back.

Finally, we needed a solution that we knew will be able to meet our needs as we grow the business, both with new team members and with new clients. Therefore Karbon seemed to be the perfect choice as it ticked all our key requirements.

“The decision to integrate workflow software into My Management Accountant was taken when we realised that we needed a tool to allow us to grow the business whilst continuing to deliver an excellent client service. We therefore needed a solution to help us manage our both existing and new work, have visibility of the team activity and drive efficiencies across our workflows. We have now implemented Karbon into the firm and, as a result, we now feel confident about growing the business in the years ahead.”

­- Martin Bown, Founder of My Management Accountant

Kieran Phelan of Cloud 360 Accounting in Northern Ireland, recently decided to move onto an all in one practice management solution and chose Pixie. He explained the reasons for this move and the key considerations when he chose the solution for his firm.

We tried a number of practice management systems in the past but felt the “all-in” packages were too overwhelming and needed significant time invested to get everything working very efficiently.

For the past few years, we used non-industry specific workflow and job management tools, alongside Outlook for emails and Google sheets for work planning but I was on the look out for something more integrated as the firm began to grow.

Moving to Pixie felt like a big decision as I’ve always feared practice management systems being too big to manage. However, Pixie was much easier to use and very configurable plus great email integration and workflows - and not too many alerts!

The key features and considerations to make this change were -

  • First and foremost, simplicity! Whilst it’s nice to have all the bells and whistles in a practice management package, the simpler it is the better in our view.
  • Speed and ease of data transfer is important. The ability to quicky take existing data into a new practice management package via CSV was vital.
  • We also had to ensure compatibility with existing processes. This was a MUST as we were happy with how we worked so we did not want to change this to fit with practice management software.
  • Dual deadline management was also another key feature for us. Some practice management systems have statutory deadlines only. Having internal deadlines is a must in a modern cloud accounting firm who work on daily and weekly bookkeeping for clients.
  • Cost was definitely a key factor and with Pixie being priced at £49 per month for the firm, this made it very attractive. However, if the other key components were absent then cost wouldn’t be a deal maker or deal breaker.
  • Quality of support was very important to look at too. You have to ensure there is a support team in place that understands our needs as much as what the software currently does.
  • Integrations (or capacity for future integrations) and the user interface was also key.

We are still rolling out Pixie and this will take place over at least the next 6 months. Once we have migrated everything over, we will next conquer the workflow and task automation and, after that, we will implement and integrate emails. Not too much too soon!

“We’ve stayed away from fully functional practice management/CRM types of systems over the past few years as everything on the market just seemed too overwhelming and too costly.

Clients don’t really care that much how good our practice management software is - they just want quality of service.

But with Pixie, we found the new kid on the block who ticked all our boxes. Great user-interface, great templates, great at workflow and tasks, and loads of potential”.

­- Kieran Phelan, Cloud 360 Accounting

Read next article

Practice management software guide