(Automated) Accounting Client Onboarding Checklist: The Growthlab Financial Guide

October 11, 2022

(Automated) Accounting Client Onboarding Checklist: The Growthlab Financial Guide

This is a Guest Blog post by LiveFlow's customer GrowthLab Financial.

Have you ever thought about the time you’ve spent preparing people, systems, and software for new clients? Time that did not add any immediate value to the client and time that you’ve already tried to optimize. Have you ever wished it was just automated?

GrowthLab’s Journey with Automation

At GrowthLab, this was the exact thought process we went through before we realized there had to be a better way, because although these systems talk to each other and “integrate”, the built-in automations don’t always solve your unique process or pain point. Or worse yet, you’ve started to change the applications you’re using just to fit into the process you thought you wanted. 

Point is, client onboarding is a pain point and we often solve it by trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. 

We started looking at custom API development and integrations and knew this was the path to take. It worked with our existing tech stack, fit our desired processes, reduced time to onboard, and reduced natural human error. 

Since then, we’ve reduced our onboarding time from around 2-3 hours per client down to about 15 minutes, and here’s how we did it….

Our journey with automating GrowthLab had to begin with client onboarding. While it wasn’t the most time-consuming, it was a critical touchpoint with the newly signed client. You never get a second chance to make a first impression is what we told ourselves, so making sure the client experience was perfect was critical. Not only is this a potential pain point for both parties, but also it's a junction where the work is non-value add and often tedious across systems… a ripe opportunity for improvement.  

However, I must pause you here…

Mindful Automation

What most firms do is begin automating mindlessly when they realize their process can be automated, and we strongly suggest you don’t do that. When you begin automating for the sole sake of automating, you lose focus on the actual processes and client experience. It’s not until you’ve clearly defined and documented your processes that we believe you can actually begin automating, because that’s when you know the desired end result, as well as the confirmed tech stack that will be with you for the long run. 

In short, there's a three-step approach to automating your firm:

  1. Visually Map your Workflow
  2. Identify Hotspots
  3. Automate your Firm (with Zapier, LiveFlow, or Make)

Let’s have a deeper look at each of them… and as a bonus, how we specifically used LiveFlow to 10x our team’s output of reports for clients.

Mapping Your Workflow & Identifying Automation Hotspots

We suggest checking out Miro for mapping your processes as it allows you to do so in a visual and clean manner. Through mapping, you’ll begin to gain clarity and alignment across the organization with what your process currently looks like vs. what you really want it to look like, making sure to map out the specific people and systems touching each step in the process. 

Once your current process is mapped out, you can begin to piece together what your future state should look like. Start with the easy stuff… where is there duplicate work being done? Are there certain steps that should be done before others? Identify the hotspots, pain points, and opportunity areas within your process. and

Here’s a simplified example of what a before and after of an automated client onboarding map should look like. 

An Accounting Client Onboarding Checklist map

Automate your Firm (with Zapier, LiveFlow, or Make)

With the first phase of adjustments to your process map complete, now let’s look at automations. Jump to your systems & apps as an easy first step. Now while all firms have a slightly different flow to onboard, they generally have the same 4-5 things that need to happen. 

The time or project systems need to be set up, the virtual file storage needs to be organized, the workflow management system needs to be set up, internal accounting systems must be linked, and perhaps you use internal communication channels, like Slack, that need to be created. 

These are 4-5 processes that maybe only take an hour to complete, but are non-value-add, error-prone, tedious, and have limited - if any - efficiencies at scale. 

These five steps are ripe for starting your automation journey. They are repeatable, have a defined process, and leverage apps that are (98% most likely) hosted within automation platforms such as Zapier or Make. There are plenty of articles on the different platforms, and how they compare, and we’ll leave that for another article

How GrowthLab 10X Our Reporting with LiveFlow

While Zapier and Make can help you automate systems and your workflow, GrowthLab found LiveFow to be the perfect solution to automate the delivery of financials once the “services” team began working with a newly onboarded client. 

Once the onboarding process is nearing completion, GrowthLab’s accounting or FP&A team creates a Flash Report for the new client as a way to give them a simplified, automated, and clear view into their business performance on a monthly basis. 

Setting up this flash report during the onboarding process allowed our team to automate future reporting for clients, saving hours per month for each client, while also giving clients the information and experience they’ve been searching for. 

Summary

In summary, there are three ways you can think about automating your accounting firm. 

  1. DIY method. This is the easiest to bootstrap with when you’re first starting out, and where LiveFlow, Zapier, and Make are perfect solutions. Not only are they easy to use and implement, but the process of repeating reporting and processes month after month is also seamless and without much effort.
     
  2. Custom Automation Development. There are many development shops out there that will develop custom automations for your firm based on what you’re trying to automate and accomplish. This is a great option because it will be custom to your workflow, but on the flip side, will usually incur large upfront development costs.

  3. GrowthLab’s AppStream Development. GrowthLab will develop custom accounting automations, specializing in working with accounting firms. However, instead of heavy upfront development costs, GrowthLab supports firms on a monthly subscription basis that includes hosting, support, and maintenance. 
Also want to Automate your Accounting reports? Book a Demo to check out LiveFlow today.

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