How To Implement A Client Portal For Accountantson 31 January 2024
Every service-based business could stand to use a client portal. After all, having a platform that handles file sharing and requesting, project management, and threaded discussions makes working together a whole lot simpler and more efficient.
For accounting firms, however, client portals are essential. Why?
- Clients hate having to keep up with things themselves.
- Clients are hard to chase down and get the information you need.
- Clients are not always sure of their responsibilities or next steps.
- Client files contain sensitive financial information.
Being able to request files, automatically follow up, and assign tasks to clients—all within a secure environment—makes client portals the best thing since sliced bread for accountants.
If you have an established firm that’s concerned about privacy regulations, you likely already have a client portal.
However, your clients refuse to use it. (Amirite?)
So now you’re looking for a more user-friendly alternative, and how best to implement it at your firm to address the points above.
That’s exactly why we wrote this article. Keep reading to learn the proper steps to implementing a client portal so your team and your clients can get on board and start collaborating more efficiently.
In the time it takes to make dinner, you can learn how to use client portal Glasscubes. That’s how easy it is. Book a free demo today.
How To Implement A Client Portal For Accountants
Here’s the process we recommend for implementing our own secure client portal for accountants, Glasscubes. But it’s not centered around us—it’s centered on you, and the things you need to do to make your chosen platform successful. So whatever portal you choose should have a similar implementation process.
1. Discuss the challenges and limitations of your current client portal with your new vendor.
It’s important for you and your new portal provider to have a firm grasp of how your current portal is limiting your operations and client relationships. That’s why we always start with a conversation about how you use (or don’t use) your portal, what clients say about it, and what your staff thinks about it.
With this knowledge, you can set realistic goals about your new client portal. Assuming that’s Glasscubes, we would tie those goals to specific features to include in your firm’s account.
2. See a tailored trial account.
After identifying your needs and a few general use cases for your firm, we’ll quickly spin up a trial account that helps us demonstrate how your staff and clients will engage on the platform.
In this tailored demo, you’ll be able to see how our portal overcomes the challenges you’re currently facing with client collaboration, and some improvements Glasscubes delivers.
3. Outline the needs and business processes specific to each department.
Next up is meeting with all your key stakeholders to gain an in-depth understanding of the role of each department within your firm. We can then partition your account into areas that reflect each department’s unique needs.
Smaller firms may not have distinct enough needs among departments—if they have departments at all—to warrant partitioning. But larger firms with, say, 2,000+ clients will more than likely need their account partitioned to address specific needs and provide greater control.
For example, if your firm is larger, you likely offer services around payroll, income taxes, auditing, and so on. Each of these may be different departments within your firm, and may even have its own set of clients. Chances are these departments have their own needs that must be met within your portal.
Alternatively, if you’re a small team of CPAs operating with minimal staff, you all likely wear multiple hats and won’t need formal hierarchy or account partitioning.
Wherever your firm lands on the spectrum, your provider should take the time to understand all of your needs and ensure they’re addressed in the portal—so people actually use it!
4. Test a live pilot account.
We’ll configure your account based on what we learned in our meeting. This may include:
- Customized welcome screen
- Predetermined folder structure for files
- Template file requests for your various services (e.g., income tax checklist)
- Template tasks (e.g., make account payment, review payroll)
However, prior to throwing open the doors to all staff and clients, we highly recommend doing a live pilot of the solution with your key stakeholders and a small group of clients. This is important for several reasons:
- It gives your team the chance to see what elements they need added, removed, or modified.
- It provides the opportunity for clients to let you know about usability.
- It avoids giving your entire client base “software whiplash” from switching solutions too frequently should the portal not work out.
Overall, this pilot stage is about getting feedback to inform your rollout—or continued search for the right solution in case it’s not a good fit.
5. Roll out the client portal according to an action plan.
With feedback in hand, we’ll make any final changes to your account and create an action plan for a full rollout in collaboration with your team.
But that’s not the end!
We’ll of course provide customer success and project management support as needed throughout the life of your account to ensure you’re always getting the most value from your client portal.
“We received incredible support from the Glasscubes team—and this support is ongoing, providing great value. From day-to-day user support to making the platform work better for our specific case. We have been very impressed with the platform and available help.”
—Kieran Chandler via Trustpilot
Note: Depending on the size and complexity of your firm, the entire implementation process above can take as little as 2-3 days or up to 2-3 months.
Case Study: Johnston Carmichael
Johnston Carmichael, the largest independent firm of chartered accountants and business advisors in Scotland, implemented Glasscubes to replace its existing client portal, which was clunky and hard to use. Its entire workforce—a team of over 800 employees based across 13 locations—finds Glasscubes easy to use, and our solution has also saved them time.
“More and more data is being processed and passed between stakeholders digitally—a best-in-class system is critical to successfully engage with your stakeholders and client base. For that reason, we would recommend Glasscubes… Glasscubes is a feature-rich product that allows us to interact with our clients in a better way.”
—Ewan Bolt, Head of digital solutions
Implement a client portal made for accountants: Glasscubes
Whether you have a large or small accounting firm, Glasscubes is the perfect collaboration solution for keeping your clients and staff on the same secure page.
You can easily share and organize financial documents, tax returns, and reports securely in one centralized location. This eliminates the need for manual tracking and searching through numerous email attachments, ensuring that everyone has access to the latest versions of documents.
In addition, you can request files in an organized fashion. Whether you need 10 documents or 100, you can collect them all via a single link that navigates to a unique, secure portal where clients can upload the documents you need. Files are checked off as they’re uploaded, so you and clients can easily see progress.
And for keeping client projects separate but on the same platform, create unlimited, customizable workspaces. Team members can share resources and communicate with one another in their specific workspace, and you can access them all for easy oversight.
We’ve already given you the how-to on implementing a client portal, so you already know we do most of the heavy lifting with Glasscubes. Get the process started today by booking a free demo.
“Saving us hours of resource”
“Prior to using Glasscubes, our whole team was involved in contacting our clients multiple times a year to request their records. This was very time-consuming and was not as successful as we would have liked.
We started using Glasscubes this tax year and to date it has saved us around 288 hours of resource, allowing our staff to proceed with actual work. ”
—Sophie M, a manager in the accounting industry, via Capterra