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Publications indicate that nearly half of professional accountants believe that effective project management is the most critical skill future accountants need to learn – and for good reason.

Accounting projects require meeting specific milestones and timelines while staying within budget. This means that much of an accounting firm’s success relies on how its white-collar professionals handle constantly changing project variables like deliverables, cost estimates, resources, client expectations, and more.

Issues with changes in scope and project delivery, such as missing deadlines or leaving out critical information, can quickly harm your firm’s reputation and client loyalty. Here, we discuss essential project management practices for accountants to maintain and improve client relations.

7 Key Project Management Practices for Accountants

Keeping up with large accounting projects requires organization and an “all-hands-on-deck” effort. Here are the top best practices for managing accounting projects.

1. Establish a Project Scope & Objectives

The first step to effective accounting project management is to ensure clear expectations. No matter its size, every project should have a detailed project plan. This includes collecting information like:

  • Project start and end dates
  • Key objectives
  • Deliverable due dates
  • Total budget
  • Any exclusions or constraints
  • Assumptions, dependencies
  • Feedback and approval cycles

Organizing this data into a clear scope of work is critical to keeping your firm’s internal team and client on the same page throughout the project’s lifespan.

2. Break the Work Down Into Deliverables

Once an overall timeline is established, accounting project plans should be broken down into smaller milestones and deliverables to help ensure it’s always on track to meet deadlines. This involves identifying supporting tasks and who’s responsible for them. Creating a schedule of accounting deliverables also enables the client to track your progress.

3. Facilitate Clear & Open Communication

Just because project expectations are clear at the beginning doesn’t mean they’ll stay that way as you dive deeper into the work. Accountants should always have dedicated, easy ways to connect with internal team members and clients for clarification and direction.

Some project variables require frequent check-ins if the project adds or removes costs. For example, if your project scope includes cost recoverability terms for when costs can’t be easily estimated, it’s critical to keep clients updated on how the project’s financials are fairing.

4. Prioritize Project Transparency

It’s hard to maintain accountability for projects that only a few team members can access. A good project management practice is to create a system of transparency that makes due dates, budgets, and timelines visible to all team members in real-time. This can help hold responsible parties accountable for their portions and makes it easier to catch any signs of the project falling behind.

5. Use Resources Effectively

Efficient resource allocation is critical to keeping accounting project costs low. This is where the value of modern technologies, such as project management systems, comes into play.

Project management software can provide built-in tools to analyze and optimize resource allocation based on current and future resource availability. This can help with forecasting future projects and ensure the right placement of staff.

6. Monitor Progress

A significant part of successful project management is monitoring progress. Accountants should check the status of deliverables, costs, and budget use daily to avoid any hiccups that could create delays.

7. Ensure Proper Documentation

Accounting project success relies on detailed documentation. Your accounting firm should have a system to ensure all steps are correctly recorded and that there’s always an easily accessible paper trail that can be pulled for audits. Having this data readily available is vital for maintaining client trust.

How Project Management Software Can Help

Project management solutions can help facilitate each of the above best practices in a way that’s efficient and easy to grasp. Customized client dashboards can provide top-level views of project progress for increased transparency and alert teams when there’s a risk of missing a deadline or deliverable. Additionally, they can also provide helpful tools like:

Find Sustainable Success With Workforce Management Software for Accountants

Organized project management practices are essential for accounting firms that want to find long-term success. coAmplifi’s workforce management system for accounting firms promotes efficiency while increasing work quality and accountability.

Find out why other accounting firms are using coAmplifi for project management. Schedule your demo now!

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