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Interactive Accounting sets the standard for practice management with Salesforce

Interactive Accounting is a modern accounting agency which was born out of frustration with the industry and its traditional ways of working. It sought to move away from paper-based processes and provide clients more proactive advice.

“For many accountants, the idea of technology is terrifying. It’s easier for them to stay hidden behind ledger books and gather numbers from clients once a year,” said Charlotte Bungard, General Manager at Interactive Accounting. “Because we set ourselves up as an advisory first, we needed technology to stay up to date on what was happening in our clients’ businesses.”

Interactive Accounting was an early adopter of Xero’s cloud accounting software which made it easy to collaborate with clients and stay on top of their finances. Several years later, Salesforce has helped the company transform the rest of its business with a fresh approach to practice management.

Interactive Accounting works with many start-ups and other tech-savvy businesses and it’s grown rapidly through referrals. The company’s processes and systems were buckling under the pressure, but it struggled to find an ideal solution to manage the complexities of its practice.

“A lot of practice management solutions are built for traditional accountants who only engage with clients once a quarter or once a year, whereas we engage with some clients on a weekly and monthly basis,” said Bungard. “We stitched together a number of systems to manage the different tasks we do, but we had a lot of manual processes and there was an increasing risk we’d miss something critical like a tax lodgement.”

In order to scale, Interactive Accounting looked outside the industry for a solution to manage all the usual aspects of practice management as well as those specific to its business. Salesforce was proposed by another relationship-based business and Interactive Accounting was sold on the value of having a platform that could be extended to support future needs.

“We want to be bigger and better than ever in the next five to ten years, which is why we needed a solution like Salesforce that could grow alongside us,” said Bungard.

Interactive Accounting engaged Argo Logic to lead the implementation, which included replacing five systems with Salesforce. The consolidation has simplified the company’s IT environment, leading to fewer breakdowns of systems and processes and enabling greater automation. It has also unified teams around one source of truth for practice management.

“One of the first things we did was build a work|ow for onboarding which helps us be really thorough and tick every box. We also record everything in Salesforce so we never have to ask clients the same question twice,” said Bungard.

The onboarding work|ow—powered by Sales Cloud—includes tasks like identity checks. Details like client addresses are checked in CAS 360 which is integrated with Salesforce to streamline compliance.

As a result of the improved work|ow, Interactive Accounting has shaved thirty minutes off the time it takes to onboard each new client, giving the business capacity to grow. Similar work|ows for service delivery provide greater visibility of tasks and ensure nothing gets missed.

“We have 760 month-end tasks and now have dashboards to track those and make sure they’re complete,” said Bungard. “The dashboards also allow us to gamify things and encourage employees to get tasks done sooner.”

More often than not, tasks rely on input from clients. With the reporting in Salesforce, Interactive Accounting can identify which clients submit information late, so they can have proactive conversations to stop this occurring. This has led some clients to upgrade their services and entrust their bookkeeping to Interactive Accounting. The business has also been able to reduce the average time to close month-end for clients from 21 days to 14. For its Virtual CFO clients, this is down to an average of seven days.

Less than a year after its go-live with Sales Cloud, Interactive Accounting has removed friction from its internal processes. Employees are equipped with a single source of truth and are using Slack, the secure channel-based messaging platform, to collaborate internally and externally.

Pockets of the company have been using Slack for some time to communicate with clients and in 2018 it was adopted wall-to-wall with a mission to stop employees from living in their inbox. Interactive Accounting wanted to cut down time spent on internal email and bring noti{cations, conversations, and work|ow into one central space. Slack has done this and much more for the company and is now integral to how work gets done. It even supported the implementation of Sales Cloud, with Interactive Accounting and Argo Logic creating a channel on Slack Connect to collaborate between weekly check-ins.

Slack is now integrated with Salesforce and several other key applications to streamline communication, collaboration, and work|ow. For example, every time a new lead is entered in Salesforce it triggers a notification to the #sales Slack channel. The sales team can then share any existing knowledge about the lead and agree who will follow up. When leads sign-on as customers, another noti{cation is triggered in the channel so the team can celebrate the new win and start the onboarding process that very same day—as opposed to in the past when it might be left to the day following.

Interactive Accounting also uses Slack with all of its Virtual CFO clients and others who require a high level of support. The platform makes it really easy to act as an extension of clients’ teams and provide support or answer questions whenever needed.

“Our clients know we are just a Slack message away which is especially useful when they’re travelling and need an easy way to reach us,” said Bungard. “At the same time, Slack gives us an effective way to send timesensitive messages to clients too busy to keep up with email.”

The ability to connect via Slack has become even more valuable during the pandemic with teams working 100% remotely at times. The company has channels for each of{ce where teams can share important information as well as bond over their shared experiences. Slack huddles—which enable audio and screen sharing—have helped to fill an important gap by facilitating those fast, informal conversations that once took place standing in the office.

“The other day I received a question and I thought I could either type out a ten minute response or hop on a huddle, so that’s what I did and we’re able to wrap things up in two minutes. It’s a great way for everyone to come together and solve things quickly,” said Bungard.

Interactive Accounting is now expanding on the use of Salesforce with apps from the AppExchange. These include AskNicely which the company is using to collect feedback and measure NPS. The feedback gathered so far is helping to shape a current rebranding project by enabling the business to narrow in on the aspects of service clients love most.

Working within a business which loves numbers, Bungard is especially excited about exploiting all of the reporting capabilities in Salesforce and has tapped into Trailhead to learn more about these and other features. She’s already used some of the learnings to build a weekly dashboard that’s sent automatically to management once a week. The dashboard has cut down on ad hoc reporting requests and helped reduce overall time spent on reporting.

The reporting available within Salesforce has additionally halved the time it takes to prepare stats for the business’ weekly all-hands meeting. It also provides account managers with information at their fingertips to monitor team workflow.

“All of the automation and insights we’ve gained are helping us reduce pressure on individual employees and giving us that scalability that we sought at the beginning. The next step is to take advantage of that and make sure we’re handling our referrals in a way that maximises our growth,” said Bungard.

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