Intuit’s latest in cloud-based accounting software, QuickBooks Online Advanced, is a great fit for small to medium-sized law firms. With features like custom fields, custom users, and an app stack within QuickBooks’ ecosystem, this accounting tool combined with a QuickBooks ProAdvisor is a careful and insightful way to manage your firm’s financials.
Lynda Artesani of Artesani Bookkeeping has been helping law firms for the past 20 years. Over that time, she has refined her advocacy and embraced new technology to better serve her clients. What used to be a job that entailed going into her clients’ offices to “do the books” has turned into an online management system that is ultimately more efficient, accurate and most importantly, insightful.
Lynda is part of what I see as a successful triangulation within the QuickBooks network: that of the QuickBooks platform, the expertise of the ProAdvisors, and the customization and integrations of the apps in the QuickBooks app store. Like Apple, QuickBooks has a platform of apps that enhances its interface. In the legal field specifically, there are apps to keep time, invoice, tracking accounts receivable, and show reporting. Other apps sync your legal documents to your QuickBooks data, integrate payroll, and stay compliant with trust accounting. I spoke to Lynda about the advantages of Advanced, but she first directed me toward the original software: QuickBooks Online.
First Off: QuickBooks Online
If you’re already a QuickBooks Online user, you’ll know many of the benefits of this software. QuickBooks Online can save you tons of money via efficiencies. You can bring in data from your bank, and from case or practice management software. This means there is no more double entry and less time spent finding errors. Also, you can use automation tools to send out invoices, make specialized reports and import data. For Lynda, this means that since the manual drudgery of reconciliation has been solved by automation, she is able to focus her efforts on more elevated advisory tactics. More on that later.
Advanced is enhanced for the bigger law firms with more complex workflows. QuickBooks Online supports up to 250 accounts – if you have more than that, you’ll need to upgrade to Advanced. And with that upgrade comes benefits.
Some law firms generate a massive volume of invoices each month with varied terms and methods of payment. You would need at least one full-time employee to manage a workflow like that. Multiple invoicing is a feature only available in QuickBooks Online Advanced. Lynda has a law firm client who is able to mass-produce many templated invoices for their high-volume of clients in just a few clicks. That workflow used to take all day and involve printing, envelopes, stamps and the postal carrier.
She also pointed out that if your invoice is more quickly received, it’s also more quickly paid – especially if you tie it to online payment systems like Intuit’s Merchant Services. Increased cash flow from timely payments gives law firms the freedom to make more expansive operational decisions. Again, the triangulation of the ProAdvisors, the apps, and the platform create an automated, modern workflow.
Custom User Permission
With larger law firms, there is a need for user permission levels in areas like accounts receivable. Lynda told me of a law practice with four administrative assistants in accounts receivable for the firm. Each person had a slightly different area of accounts receivable for which they were responsible. Lynda set it up so that one admin had the access needed to see when the deposits settle into the bank. There was no need for this person to see the other side of the bank account or the checking account at all. With Advanced, she was able to get the right information into the right hands – in a way that was selective, efficient and secure.
Another stellar benefit of QuickBooks Online Advanced is the reporting tool, Fathom. If your law firm is growing, you want to take a snapshot (daily, weekly, monthly) on the fiscal health of your operations. Fathom provides a high-level, graphics-heavy reporting program.
Lynda explains that with QuickBooks Online Advanced’s features she now has the tools to turn what otherwise would be a one-time client into a valuable, ongoing relationship through which she guides and advises her clients toward the path of greater efficiency and prosperity.
As an accountant using this, you will provide your legal clients with the ability to see the whole picture of how the business is doing. When you do that, you can help them implement a solid growth strategy and set meaningful goals.
One of Lynda’s favorite reports in Fathom is Goal Seeking. The beauty of this report is it can be the gateway to getting a client interested in forecasting, budgeting, improving cash flow and using your knowledge to help their firm grow in a prosperous and robust way. The accounting pro becomes the hero to the law firm.
Redeploying Staff to More Valued Tasks
When you have your financial operations automated attached to the consultation of a true law accounting expert, you will have just freed up your time or your employee’s time to work on more valued tasks. For you, to focus on your casework. For your employee, reassigned her to new, higher-level tasks that added more value back to the business.
When you switch your day-to-day bookkeeping using cloud-based software like QuickBooks Online Advanced and combine that with the expertise of a QuickBooks ProAdvisor like Lynda Artesani, you are opening yourself and your law firm up to new possibilities. You can take more time off. You can do more pro-bono work. You can spend time with your family. Having your law firm accounting in professional hands will save you not only money but time as well, in the long run.
For more information about Lynda Artesani, check out her website.
More information about QuickBooks Online Advanced.
More information about the QuickBooks Online App Store.
For more about Gary Allen.