As accountants increasingly become partners to the businesses they advise, whether working at a CPA firm or through their own freelance book of business, project management skills grow more essential. These are the technical and project management skills that accountants—and many bookkeepers—need to ensure that client deliverables are produced in a timely and organized manner.
Project Management Software and Accounting Soft Skills
When accountants become advisors, they build deeper business relationships with their clients—analyzing financial statements, enforcing budgets, and working with multiple departments and key stakeholders. This enhanced role requires not only project management skills, but also project management tools and communication acumen to be successful.
CPAs, especially those working in CAS (client accounting services), should have a full-suite understanding of project management software.
Workforce Management Software
Accounting advisors are often responsible for managing tasks among their clients, clients’ business departments and contractors on their own team. To keep all deadlines and deliverables straight, it’s helpful to have an understanding of workforce management software to track each project, assign tasks and see where deliverables are at any given time.
In project management accounting, any financial analysis a professional conducts needs to be backed up by the appropriate data in the company’s source documents. It’s much easier to use one document capturing software to hold all client financial data so that the source documents are easily accessible.
It’s not enough to simply track projects for a client. An advisor needs to be able to communicate with all parties, especially in a remote environment where in-person communication isn’t an option. Thus, an accounting advisor should consider a communication tool like Slack or Microsoft Teams in order to easily reach their team—and reach them in their preferred method (e.g., email, video chat, etc.).
Screen Recording Software
Remote advisors will need to give detailed instructions on what information they need from the client and how to retrieve that information or perform certain tasks. The easiest way for an accountant to do this is by recording a demonstration of the process. This is where a screen recording software (e.g., Loom) could come in handy.
Screen recording software helps ensure that data is properly collected and that accounting tasks performed by the client’s finance team or by a freelance accountant’s team adhere to standardized, documented processes.
Additional Accounting Soft Skills
A successful accountant knows more than just technical accounting skills. To effectively communicate and work in various firms, one must have the following accounting soft skills.
- Time management: Accountants should be able to juggle multiple clients and projects with discipline, including billing and attending meetings on time to avoid delays. .
- Flexibility and adaptability: In the modern business environment, accountants deal with constant change, like new financial regulations or new accounting technologies that disrupt accepted practices. Accountants must be able to adapt to circumstances and be ready to learn new tools and skills.
- Customer service orientation: Maintain positive client relationships by addressing concerns immediately, making clients aware of potential risks or delays in the project and offering empathy and understanding of their challenges.
Top Technical Accounting Skills For Remote Advisory
While accounting soft skills are important for project management in accounting, it’s equally important to develop accounting technical skills to deliver skilled analysis.
When performing compliance tasks, an accountant deals mostly with financial data. However, when an accountant becomes an advisor, they will analyze a larger breadth of company data from departments like supply chain, operations, human resources and more. ERP software coordinates the collection and distribution of data from all different departments through a single source of truth, accessible through any device. Knowing how to use various ERP softwares and cloud systems will give an accountant a head start in their financial analyses.
Depending on the accountant’s specialty and the client’s needs, CPAs may need specific project management software to help them complete advisory tasks. For example, some accountants will need forecasting and budgeting software to provide financial forecasts and budgets to their clients. Other accountants may need equity finance software to organize the sale of company shares. Regardless of the task, the accountant will need to know how to use the software provided to help them complete the project.
Pitch Deck and Presentation Software
Most advisors will need to make presentations to their clients, including a pitch deck to potential investors. To aid their presentations, they can use a design and presentation tool that helps build the accompanying slides and create an engaging pitch.
CRM systems are often used by companies to house customer, vendor and budget information. Accountants will need to be able to access and work with these systems to handle payment and billing tasks.
Technical Accounting Knowledge
Whether a client is a public or private company, technical accounting skills are required for preparing financial statements and reports, audit support and making recommendations around regulatory compliance are more valuable to a company. The more of an expert an accountant is, the better perspective the accountant can provide to the client on their current performance and processes.
Exercise Your Accounting Project Management Skills
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