We’ve made our list and we’ve checked it twice. These are the WorkflowMax features we’d like to see under our Christmas tree.
We’ve been using WorkflowMax for almost 6 months now. Over the course of the journey so far, we’ve made no secret of the fact that while we love some aspects of WorkflowMax, we don’t think it’s quite there yet as a practice management suite for accountants. It’s no surprise really – it wasn’t developed with that specific purpose in mind. And from what we’re hearing, there’s going to be some big, and very welcome, changes coming in the next 12 months or so. If we could have it all now though, what features would we like to see in our virtual Christmas stocking this festive season? Like a good eggnog, we’ve distilled it down and brewed a carefully crafted offering – our top 5 most earnestly desired enhancements.
Speed improvements – This request is exactly as it suggests. WorkflowMax is slow from a data entry point of view. Part of this is the way it works – one entry at a time, saving each entry and rendering a new page every time. For accountants with a lot of entries each day, there has to be a more streamlined way to get data in. But even putting that aside, purely as a website WorkflowMax just seems slow to open links and render pages. For an industry where time is the product, it’s like having a permanent glitch in the assembly line.
- Make timesheets central – In the current iteration of WorkflowMax, timesheets almost seem like an afterthought. Again, to some extent this makes sense when you consider who it was developed for and how it has evolved. But for most accountants (us traditional ones anyway), the timesheet is the centrepiece of our day. Rather than having multiple tabs open all day, it would be so much more efficient to be able to do everything from the timesheet – add jobs and clients, allocate people to jobs, change the state of a job as the entry is made – without having to navigate away to a new section all the time. At the moment, simply to get a day’s worth of time in and manage your work list, you have to go to a multitude of different areas, and because of the problems outlined with respect to speed in request no. 1, this is an arduous process.
- Create a job state that doesn’t appear on job lists – The reality of what we accountants do means that there are simply some jobs that effectively go for an entire year. Maybe you call a client to discuss their tax situation with them, but they don’t send in their info for another six months (just as an example). If the call goes for a while, you may not necessarily want to bill this time, but you need to record it. As soon as you do, that job becomes active and clutters your job list. We’d like to see a job state that can be used without having that job become active.
Include the ability to specify a date range in an individual estimated billings report – For the uninitiated, an estimated billings report in WFM is effectively a WIP report. Incredibly there is no way to specify a date range for this report when looking at a WIP for an individual client (and we had to verify this a few times to be sure, so unlikely did it seem to us). If you’re billing time as opposed to a fixed cost (and we have clients that specifically request we do this), you can’t see a WIP report for a client as of a certain date. It’s all or nothing – there is one report, and it’s the entire WIP regardless of date. So unless you do all your invoices the first morning of the month, before anyone puts any further time in, your WIP reports will have all the time that has been entered for this month in there too. If we have clients that we bill monthly, we quite literally have to calculate the WIP for the previous month manually, subtracting from the WIP report total each and every individual entry subsequent to the end of the month, line by line.
- An integrated and customisable dashboard – There is so much great information in both WorkflowMax and Xero. The problem is that you have to move around so much to get it, customising various reports and repeatedly logging in with your full email address every time you just want to quickly check a figure (for example, your bank balance). And different numbers appear in different applications. Xero handles your bank balance and debtors, while WFM looks after things like billings, productivity and so on. We’re not asking for infinite customisation – there has to be limits of course. It would just be good to have a range of practice KPIs that could be selectively summarised in a single page report.
Ok, so we know we’re being a little childish to expect anything more from the Xero development team between now and Christmas! And we’re not sure whether we’ve been naughty or nice this year anyway. Maybe Krampus is coming to take us away in his sack instead!
But one of the things we love about Xero is that they listen, and they frequently update based on user feedback. So if there is a roadmap for where WorkflowMax is going in the next year or so, we’re hoping some of these features will be on it.
We’re fans of Xero/WFM and their philosophy for practice management. There were things we didn’t like about our old software too, and we were paying a whole lot more for it! After 6 months, WFM is working. We are doing it. But we’re also committed to doing what we can to make Xero and WFM the best they can be, both for ourselves and the industry, precisely because we believe in the Xero approach to running a practice.
It’s been a wild ride this year! Our thanks to the Xero and WFM teams for all their help (and for putting up with us), and to Tim, Daniel and the FGS crowd for getting us this far.
We hope you have a great Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year.
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