Working with a disconnected accounting management system can be a nuisance that slows your business down. There’s no clear client history you can reference, no ease of use, and chances are security probably isn’t the best.

But it’s hard to go overboard when you’re protecting your business from liability and data theft, or even when you’re trying to streamline your management workflow. That’s why it’s important to know the clear differences between client portals and decentralized communications.

What are they and how do they differ? What’s best for your business? They each come with their own set of pros and cons that shouldn’t be overlooked.

In this guide, we’re going to walk through the features of a client portal and a disconnected communication system, as well as how they can be improved with a centralized approach. Let’s dive in.

Client portals

Client portals help ease communication between you and all your accounting clients. Why? They centralize all the tools you need to showcase your work and communicate your value.

For instance, instead of talking to your clients through email threads and calls through third-party apps, with a client portal you have one central source of information to refer to now and in the future.

A client portal provides a place where your client’s questions and concerns can be addressed without leaving any necessary pieces of information out.

In a way, a client portal is the middle man between you and your client. Click To Tweet

It’s not hard to imagine how this eliminates any miscommunication or confusion that might come with having to cobble together a set of apps to create some sort of client management system.

Digital files, general information, metadata, and any additional services can be taken care of within a client portal that your client can have access to throughout the time you work together. It eliminates the back and forth that often comes with alternatives that don’t always work as well.

It’s important to note that client portals also work as a key point of reference. Within the accounting industry, the ability to easily verify information when necessary is crucial to a firm’s success. Better yet, it’s another way to build trust with your existing clients and retain your new ones.

As you build trust and grow your customer base, client portals can work to keep your firm organized, compliant, and accessible to the clients you work with regardless of what their needs might be.

Disconnected communication systems

Unfortunately, many firms are still opting to go the disconnected communication route. The list of apps cobbled together to create some semblance of a client relationship workflow seems endless. You might use Sharefile for file sharing, a tool like Docusign to gather e-signatures, or even a Google sheet to keep track of data.

It isn’t hard to see how a setup like this can slow down any accounting firm. Instead of focusing on completing work that matters, your team members might spend more time chasing down signatures, reconfirming due dates, and finding lost files that got buried in the shuffle than actually taking care of client work. Maybe when that’s finished, they need to double check their analytics to ensure they’ve tracked the right numbers.

In short, a poor CRM system slows down everyone involved in more ways than one—which starts adding up in the form of lost time and lost revenue. How can accounting firms fix this? There’s a better solution for a disconnected communication system.

The problem is the lack of integration. There’s too much going on, and while each tool can work individually, none of them have the ability to bring it all together. One tool might work well with another, but might have trouble integrating with the rest.

The answer? An integrated client portal. In an increasingly tech-led world, a CRM that puts you in control is paramount to the success of your business.

Why you need to work with a client portal

A client portal doesn’t only do a better job of protecting you from potential data theft and liability issues. It also ensures you waste less time managing different tools and more time getting the work done that moves your business forward. With ImagineTime, you have the luxury of having all your accounting needs under one umbrella.

Need to collect esignatures? Keep track of due dates? Need to communicate seamlessly with your accounting team? ImagineTime was built by accountants for accountants so there’s no need to chase clients down for disconnected pieces of information.

ImagineTime makes it so that clients get automated deadline reminders. They can even sign documents with built-in tools through email – no Docusign or any other third-party app necessary.

Collecting payments is often another point of friction for firms. With ImagineTime’s Mango tool, you can easily accept invoice payments without having to worry about exorbitant fees and outdated transaction portals. The beauty of Mango is that you don’t need to get all of ImagineTime if it isn’t necessary.

You’re able to purchase it as a standalone tool and integrate it with your existing accounting software. Once an invoice is paid, you get access to your funds in 24-48 hours. No waiting for long stretches of time and having trouble receiving payments.Effective Client Portals

Client portals and tax season

Yet another reason to opt for a connected client portal is because of the chaos that can ensue once tax season comes around each year. It’s all too easy to miss crucial information or mishandle a client when everyone flocks to your services and wants their taxes handled.

But with a client portal that’s built to fit the specific needs of any accounting firm, you’re able to:

  • Easily collect and store client data
  • Keep client data confidential
  • Give clients access to their information and the work you’re doing
  • Store metadata when necessary
  • Keep track of due dates and set automated reminders
  • Keep client scheduling organized and accounted for

Not only that, when you’re able to expertly manage client information, you’re able to pitch additional accounting services and score more upsell opportunities.

Tools for time and billing, due date management, secure file sharing, electronic signature, and payments are necessary to the smooth running of a firm that gains and retains its customers. ImagineTime comes with all of those tools and more.

For instance, ImagineTime’s document management features help you access, copy, and search for files with ease. There’s no need to log onto another piece of software to get safe access to the information you need.

Improve your backend workflow

Come tax season, the last thing you want to deal with is a disjointed client management system. Our client portal functionality makes it easy to manage any number of clients you might be working with at any given time.

ImagineTime’s all-in-one approach to accounting software enables you to run a smarter and more effective firm that can focus on higher ROI work. You can say goodbye to spending immense amounts of time chasing down client paperwork and signatures when you set up a tool that does it all.

Infuse efficiency throughout your practice’s client management process from start to finish. Book a free demo today.