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Client Management / Support

This is for a discussion on client managers (as opposed to the TaxCycle Client Manager, which manages data files.)

I am wondering what people use and benefits / drawbacks of what they use. Also, what do people think are the important functions provided by a client manager. This is to be a discussion without an answer.

Functions
In my view, a client manager should provide the following functions:

  • Track client contacts, correspondence
  • Track work in progress, next actions
  • Link to working files, etc…
  • Link to time sheets
  • Provide templates for work flow actions towards a goal
  • Manage work in progress

Issues
During peak tax season, I find that I am addressing about 175 client files (client file means a billable client household, so anywhere from 1 to 6 persons.) Generally, I can’t handle this through electronic means and I resort to paper lists.

Options/Products
I presently use Asana to handle my client files and next actions. I can link emails into Asana and it is hot linked into my time tracker, so I can run comparison time reports over multiple years. (Right now at four years of data within my time system.) Draw back for me is that the history isn’t that easy to call up and the next action activity is too granular. (Which may be my implementation.)

But I am wondering about “upgrading”.

Someone has mentioned KarbonHQ https://karbonhq.com/ but this does not hot link to my time tracker and I am personally concerned about the thought of 100 client files across my “digital desk”.

I have also looked at SalesForce https://www.salesforce.com which is hot linked to my time tracker. The benefit is that I will be able to follow the “next action” item a little better. But the price is heavy and the ability to extract the data after may be a problem.

I heard great things about KarbonHQ for managing the client contacts, emails & correspondence, and the actual workflow. It does not track time, WIP or invoicing. It does integrate with QBO which would cover those bases.

We use WorkflowMax as a practice and client manager. Pretty solid software and they have an Accountant version called Xero Practice Manager that has some customization for our industry. It’s not going to give you the powerful and simple-to-use email triage of KarbonHQ, but it covers all our need and offers some powerful integration with CRM and file management.

I heard great things about Podio too, one of which being how customizable you can make it, both in terms of built-in features and add-ons you can tack on to it.

Thank you @fabien for your comments.

I tried looking for WorkflowMax/Xero Practice Manager and found it was not hot linked to my time tracker.

Podio is hot linked and appears to have a CRM module. Price is $134.40 USD per person per year for a plus level, or $230.40 USD per person per year for Premium, which allows for contact syncing (free for six months, then $228 per year.)

During this search, I came across teamwork.com which is hot linked, but also offers time tracking within. Price is $108 USD per person per year. Integrate this with teamworkdesk.com ($240 USD per person for Pro)

Our firm implemented Client Track a few years ago, but I would not recommend it at this point, and it doesn’t quite cover off all of the functions you’re looking for @TimParris.

We basically use it for tracking various corporate client deadlines, and for it’s email integration to send out reminders relating to those deadlines.

Unfortunately their “task” system, which is how deadlines are tracked, does not work reliably for us (which is why I was searching through the forum about this today!), and their support has been terrible lately in my experience. For example, their most recent update wiped out our client email templates, and after trying to get help in a string of 10+ emails over a period of a month, I finally gave up and recreated them all from scratch.

We planned to use its time tracking function, but didn’t go ahead with that component as it was not user friendly enough for many of our less IT saavy folks.

Anyways, sorry to resurrect an old thread here, but we will certainly be looking for another solution after this busy season. I would be very interested in hearing about any other experiences that others have had re: practice management software.

Thanks,
Rick

I switched into Podio shortly after my previous communication here.

Given that my degree is in computer programming, Podio was a good choice since it allows you to program it as you see fit. I forgot what the price for the Podio module, but I can let you know about what I have and paid:

  • Podio is the data repository. It holds all the data and handles all the connections.
  • Globiflow is the programming language. It handles the automation (like receive documents, generate and send engagement letter for signature, collect signature and file, etc.)
  • GlobiMail is the email integration. This is the upgraded email system as there is a base within Podio. This tracks if the email has been read, ensures that replies from clients are routed to the right tax return, etc.
  • SmrtPhone is the telephone system. This integrates telephone and text messages into the tax returns.

Here is what I paid:

  • Podio (2 seats, premium, one year) about $500 US. I think that was a workspace and two seats but don’t recall offhand.
  • Globiflow Premium, included (this is the programming side of Podio) Included
  • GlobiMail (monthly fee, $40 US, for up to ten users within the same workspace)
  • SmrtPhone (monthly fee of $50 US, plus number fee ($5 for local and $6 for toll free), plus time and recording fees)

What I get for all of this is all my communications and work on a single return is kept within one place, AND a much easier tracking system for the active work.

What is really neat is how well this integrates to TaxCycle without interfacing the programming API.

What I want to do in the summer is to work out the API for my time tracking software so I can have Podio activate the time tracking. (Right now, I have to start the logging myself.)

And, I want to see if I can take the TaxCycle API and link it into the Podio API. I’ve run a few tests on Podio’s API and it appears to be quite useable. Podio’s API all involve HTTP POST and HTTP GET calls. I think that I could easily send POST, though I have not looked at Taxcycle API yet.

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Here is an extract of the telephone communications from Podio, from today, carrying on conversation with two people.
Telephone%20log
And part of a tax return work folder

Slick. I’m envious.

It is very slick, even if I do say so myself.

In setting things up, I worked with a requirement to cross connect everything as much as possible and to try to keep the communications on the return within the one work folder. It is not an integrated package to manage tax and accounting work, which means that it works independently of TaxCycle, any other tax package, any other bookkeeping package, any other working paper package, or any other document management package.

I designed this as a poor man’s version of SalesForce.

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Just realizing that this is a Citrix product. We already use Sharefile for client portal and secure emails… and they easily integrate together. Oh the possibilities!

Agreed - very slick Tim!!