In my original article, I mentioned that in order to effectively work remotely with your clients, you need to put the appropriate technology in place.
When I first started working remotely, I used a combination of remote login software (I had chosen Teamviewer) and QuickBooks Online. What I found, using the two systems side by side, was that QBO was so much easier. I could access client data whenever it was convenient for me, regardless of location or time of day. (Very handy in those early days – I had a new, very high maintenance baby boy.) I didn’t have to try to arrange time to get into a client computer, I didn’t have to worry that they had shut it down before leaving the office, or closed the login software, or any number of other reasons I had no control over.
About a year or so after I made the move to an online practice, I reached a tipping point. I did NOT want to have to wait until clients were gone for the day; for my west coast clients, that was sometimes 9pm at night, and I really, really did not want to start bank recs that late at night. The other option was to get up very early to login before clients were in their offices. I loved being able to work at home, but my work hours were getting so whacked out, I was losing control of time management and spending time with my kids.
So I made a push to get all of the clients I could on QBO. I scheduled demos for them, I showed them my own data, told them how I’d been using it since 2004 and always had access – how I could look at reports from my phone.
Back in early 2010, there were not a lot of options for QBO add-ons and the current features weren’t available yet, so some of my clients had to stay on Pro, Premier or Enterprise editions of QuickBooks desktop. Rather than continue with remote login, we moved them to a hosted environment with Uni-Data. My clients still had the access they needed all day, and I had the access I needed. From any device, whenever it was convenience for me (or should I say – whenever my son made it convenient for me).
The other software I implemented was Google Drive (called Google Docs back then) to store all of my practice files and do easy (free) file exchanges with Clients. I now use Google Drive solely for storage (I keep very little on my computer hard drives – I’ll explain why in a moment), and now use Dropbox or SmartVault for file sharing and document management.
These days, the list of apps to work with clients is growing by leaps and bounds. The Intuit Appcenter is gaining new offerings on a fast and furious pace. A long time favorite, SOSInventory, is what I use for QBO clients that need advanced inventory functionality like multiple warehouses, assemblies, serial/lot number tracking and alerts when stock gets low. I use Mavenlink for all of my project management; it allows me to invite staff and CLIENTS to participate in a project, and integrates with Google Calendar (if it’s not in my Google calendar, I don’t show up, and if it’s not in Mavenlink, I don’t get it done!) as well as Google Drive. For client collaboration on paying bills, I use Bill.com and always recommend my clients implement ZenCash to manage Accounts Receivable, and TSheets to manage employee time.
Lastly, my hardware transition. I converted from PC to Mac in January of 2012 – mostly so that I could support ALL of my clients with one machine. The fact that I chose an 11” MacBook air was because it was small. I wanted something not heavy and that I could carry in one of my many purses. I have a huge aversion to actually working in my office, so using this, and my ipad as a second monitor and wifi hot spot, gives me the ability to work from pretty much anywhere. I travel quite a bit for work, and unless I set up an out of office autoreply from my email, most of my clients have no idea I’m even gone.
This post makes it sound like all of this was implemented at one time, and I want to be clear that it most certainly did not – it was a process that involved trial an error and quite a bit of research as to what would best both for my practice and for my clients.