[IMGCAP(1)]Tax workflow headaches are abundant, but the investment in technology solutions to improve the annual stressors is traditionally a low priority.

The tax department is like any other function of the business, if there is sufficient return on investment, or avoidance of unfavorable outcomes (risk reduction), then the investment can be validated for review. Until it is cost-justified, there is minimal thought of investing in tax-related workflow improvement.

During tax season, consider these five tax workflow headaches that your team faces and how the proper workflow software can help ease the pain:

1. Collecting financial data needed from clients in a timely manner
2. Tax preparation time
3. Correcting the amount of error rates in downstream tax processes
4. Keeping up with revolving non-tax related work and new client requests
5. Tax return review process and approval

Regardless of whether you are a sole proprietor or a national firm, the procedures to facilitate the tax preparation function of your practice should already be in place, making the creation of recurring templates a simple task.

Tax season is full of recurring steps, including scheduling, workflow, receiving client data, return policy deadlines, collaborating with staff and clients, preparation and review. Each step takes time. The time spent overseeing these tasks and following up with each person involved, both internally and externally, can take anywhere from three to six hours per week depending on the current workflow system.

Incorporating workflow software that allows templates to manage the process is a great start at easing the pain for a high-volume tax department. Templates allow for rinse and repeat processes to be launched across multiple clients and set to recur based on the individual needs. Once a template is created with all of the tasks assigned to team members, the process and status can be monitored by both management and the client.

Workflow software provides ROI in terms of time and money savings, but more importantly it fosters collaboration and keeps an audit trail so that nothing falls through the cracks, which could create liability for both the client and the firm.

Having a single dashboard where your entire team can collaborate on each client, and integrating with email so that tasks are automatically created from client requests, empowers the team but also provides accountability and a resource to identify bottlenecks before they become an issue. Managers are then provided an overview of what everyone is doing and can prioritize work with no interruption or delay in productivity. Following up for status updates is a thing of the past because, once a task is complete, the baton is passed to the next person in line to complete their part.

Kristen Koh Goldstein is the CEO and founder of the workflow automation software company Scalus.

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