Your Accounting Tech Stack Status UpdateSep 05, 2023
It’s New Years Day, January 1, 2024, and for the first time in years you can’t wait to get back to work, because late in 2023 you discovered the “X App.”
This app does everything for you. It pays the bills, syncs everything to QuickBooks Online, and there are never any mistakes.
The X App has AI that predicts the invoices that need to be created and sent to your customers and lets you know so you can review them and confirm. Then it sends automatic follow ups to anyone who hasn’t paid, and if there is no response after 90 days, it sends the clients to your virtual (AI Based) X-App collections agency.
It’s the EVERYTHING app, and it truly does it all. This is going to be the easiest and most profitable year yet.
This is what you’ve always wanted. One great app, to handle everything you need. The X App will greet you first thing every morning and give you a list of exactly what you need to work on, when you need to work on it, and how long it will take. It factors in breaks and also allows for the unexpected disruptions that need to be addressed but couldn’t have been anticipated.
It’s all there. All accounted for.
You just have to show up and get into a Flow State with everything.
The X App is the app to replace all of the apps so you have just one glorious app that makes it easy to do everything. And of course, there is almost no learning curve and it’s super inexpensive.
The X App is the “Excalibur” of all apps and you, sir or ma’am, are like Sir Gallahad, forever in your quest to find it, and pull it out of the rock it was left in by the Lady of the Lake!
But unless your name is Arthur and you have a magical friend named Merlin, I am going to assume that you don’t expect to find The X App and pull it out of whatever rock it lives in by the end of the year.
A Framework for The Apps You Need
Anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with productivity apps, and in particular, what makes a person more or less productive.
At the center of my focus is QuickBooks Online. In other words, I look at these apps that we use for “work management” through the lens of how we can make it easier to manage everything we have to, in order to optimize both the inputs and outputs of QuickBooks Online.
Over the majority of this year I’ve been doing a lot of research and I am developing a system in Notion that I believe will address this problem in a way that is better than anything I’ve seen to date.
It’s called “Nerd’s Bulletproof Notion Project” and I expect to launch it by the end of the year! Maybe THIS will be The X App?I have some beta users playing with the templates I’ve got so far and giving me feedback.
Meanwhile, I want to give you some of the highlights of what I’ve learned over many years and especially from my recent research into how people can eliminate (not just reduce) stress.
My research has many sources, including my own experience, as well as several books and articles I’ve read and clipped on the subject.
The reality is that your perfect day would likely look a bit like I described above.
You get to your desk and you open your Work Management App and you have a clear list right in front of you with everything you need to get done today.
These are items that are scheduled on your calendar. They are non-negotiable and they WILL get done today.
This implies that you did not over schedule yourself, which is a big mistake most of us make. We plan to get way more done than we realistically can, and then we unintentionally create more stress.
We have to start doing the opposite. Schedule much less and even allow time for the unexpected visit from your boss, coworker, or client who has an emergency, regardless of whose lack of planning, or whose fault it is, that needs to be addressed.
If you plan for that and then nothing happens, then you have in your system a pile of “next action items” that aren’t scheduled. So when you have the extra time, because you planned the right way, you can pick from that list and pick them off and get them done.
What I am describing here is a system that you can trust where you capture, clarify, and organize everything you need to do.
Many of you have systems, but you can’t or don’t trust them, even if you think you do. Want proof? When everything you have to do is in a system you can (truly) trust, your brain will know that, and it will stop trying to track and manage the reminders for you. You know those random thoughts that pop up, usually at times when you are in no position to do anything about them and they remind you of that thing you still haven’t done yet?
When that thing is in a system you can trust, you won’t get those reminders.
That thing will be in your system and either scheduled, or in your Next Action Items list. And that Next Action Items List is something that you review regularly (weekly, if not daily) to clarify what is there, what it means to you, and when it needs to get done/scheduled.
If you’ve read the book Getting Things Done by David Allen, then you should recognize this language. Many of you have read it, but I would wager that most of you do not even remember the list I’ve shared with you so far, so now I will complete it for you:
That’s the list that essentially makes up the perfect system for how to manage your work. The book gives you the perfect blueprint for how to do it. Now you just have to decide which app you want to use and then set it up according to this system.
If you’re going to read a book like this, don’t. You must study a book like this, and take notes to determine exactly how you are going to take what you are learning and put it into action.
Don’t do anything yet.
Another book I’ve studied this year gives you the perfect framework for how to organize all of your apps into three major areas.
The CPR Framework
You need up to five apps to manage everything, but I am going to show you how one app can cut it down to three.
Come Up For Air by Nick Sonnenberg gives you the CPR Framework:
Every app you use in any area of your business will fall under one of these three categories. And there are five core processes you need apps for, to cover across the three categories. This is where I depart from Nick Sonnenberg’s thinking a bit. A fair bit, actually.
In short, I don’t love his choice of apps, but I do love his framework and his concepts.
Communications (2 Apps)
You need two apps for communications.
One for internal use, and one for external use.
For example, I would suggest Slack for internal communication, and you will probably use email for external communication.
I’ve played around with Discord and there is a lot that I like about it, but ultimately I would recommend Slack. It is built better for this use case.
If you are a Microsoft house, then you will use Microsoft Teams for internal communication.
Planning (1 app) - Work Management
This is where your work management app goes. Most of you are used to the term “project management,” but project management doesn’t take into account that there are many things we do that aren’t part of a project. So for clarity, I prefer to use the term “work management.” It’s more all encompassing.
There are many tools here. You’re all overwhelmed with them. I’ve used several different tools over the years. For the longest time I used something called ActiveCollab, and I really didn’t think I would ever switch apps.
Then Clickup came along and I started playing with it, but I was very much against the idea that I would switch.
Now this brings up an important rule I have!
And this comes from my own experience, not a book.
If I am going to take on a new app, it has to meet one of three criteria:
- It solves a problem I don’t already have solved.
- It solves one better.
- The app is so good that even though it doesn’t fit in either of the previous two categories, I want to play with it and see if I can use it, not to replace any existing apps, but maybe some processes.
Bublup is an example of number three for me, and you can learn all about it in the replay of this webinar I recently did:
After feeling 1000% sure I would never leave Clickup, I slowly but eventually did.
How I Met Notion
I picked up Notion under category number 2 above. I didn’t really have a good solution for notes anymore. I had used Evernote for years. Before that I used MS One Note. Clickup has a good document feature, but it felt very disconnected to me. You can have a document attached to a task, a list, a folder, and when I didn’t remember what level the document lived on, I was having a hard time finding it.
And I never liked ClickUp’s mobile app!
Finally, I learned that ClickUP quite literally ripped a page out of Notion’s book with their own document feature.
When I started playing with Notion, I began replacing processes rather than the entire Work Management function. I was testing it to see how it compared, and whether or not I liked it better.
For sure, Notion is the best note taking tool in the Galaxy. I am absolutely 100% convinced of that. As far as I am concerned, anyone who doesn’t have that experience, hasn’t taken the time to learn how to use it properly.
Notion is challenging at first, because you quite literally start with a blank page and it is not clear how much you can do with it.
If you start out creating a page and some sub-pages, then it looks very linear in its structure.
But once you get a good look under the hood, you start to find out that it is anything but linear. Notion is sort of like a giant toolbox filled with lots of different tool boxes. And you can link to anything from anywhere, and Notion creates backlinks for you.
Notion requires some assembly. It’s not linear, it is very very much a geometric linking system, and you have to learn how to use it. But once you know what you’re doing, and with the help of some templates that I have already begun to create, I am convinced that this is THE best work management tool in existence.
If you can conceive it, you can create it. Every other tool out there is limited because they are built with “Project Management” in mind.
Notion is built with the blank page in mind and nothing is in the way of infinite possibility. In other words, you get to create what you need as you need it. And it is so easy to update.
This is why I am launching my Bulletproof Notion Project – to help you get into a flow state a lot more often, because you’ll have a mind like water.
A Mind Like Water
If you drop a rock into a calm body of water you will see the ripple effect that it has. The water reacts in the exact right proportion to the stimulus.
Most of us as people are so stressed out that our reactions to things are often very disproportionate to the stimulus.
When you have everything you need to do tracked in a system you can trust, you will experience a mind like water.
You’ve probably experienced being in a flow state before. It happens when you begin to work on something that is challenging, but not impossible. The kind of work where you really have to think and solve problems. Before you know it, everything around you fades into the background, and then time either slows down or speeds up.
Next thing you know you come out of that flow state and you have accomplished something new. Something you were not able to do before.
Flow State is the most extreme state of being in the moment.
And this is where we are at our happiest.
Wrapping up on Work Management Apps
Of course, QuickBooks Online and any of the apps you use to help with accounting workflows like bill pay, accounts receivable management and so on, are all in this work management area.
You have to decide which apps you like best for your business, and then document what you are using, and just as important, how you use it. This is your SOP, which is in your company wiki. More on that below.
Resources (1-2 apps)
Here we have two items to address:
- Company Wiki
- Process Management
These might seem like novelties for a company, but on a group productivity level they are critically important.
Company Wiki (Notion)
The Company Wiki will have resources, like your HR manual, where employees can go and download and sign it, and then when they give it back to you, goes into your work management area in an Employees section where you keep track of all of that stuff.
Why is this important?
Think about it like this. Say you have two employees, Sarah who was just hired and hasn’t signed the HR Manual yet, and Mariette who has been working there for a while.
Sarah will likely ask Mariette where that HR manual is.
If Mariette now has to go hunting through some file system like Windows or Google Drive, you are now using up two employee’s resources simultaneously, when a well organized company Wiki would empower Mariette to give Sarah the link to it, and off Sara goes. From there she should be able to find and download the HR manual in thirty seconds. Meanwhile, Mariette goes back to work!
One situation like this alone may not seem like a big deal, but if your lack of systems leads to two or more employees spending additional time on something, here’s the math.
Let’s say it averages three people per day wasting five minutes each day, on something that one person could have easily found on their own in five minutes with a well organized company wiki.
No. of people
No. of days (work week)
Weeks per year
Minutes wasted (each)
Minutes per year
Hours per year
Average annual salaries
$50,000 x No of people
Average Annual Salaries wasted
(Hours / 2080 * 3) * Average Annual Salaries
That’s just for three people.
Change to ten and the Average Annual Salaries wasted is $17,361.11.
So a few minutes of employees politely helping one another can add up to a lot of lost time and wages! As the team grows, the impact is exponential.
Similarly, if one person is five minutes late to a meeting with five people who now have to wait, that is five people times five minutes each whose time is being wasted.
You can build a similar model on that and you’ll see that for ‘x’ number of meetings per week, the time wasted and related salaries wasted grows exponentially.
Having a well organized company Wiki can make a huge impact on your profitability.
The company Wiki can include information about anything related to working at your company.
- Places to eat
- Links to educational resources (or the resources themselves)
- Company directory
- Employee handbook and policies
- Organizational charts and team member bios
- Standard operating procedures (your Process Management Section)
- Frequently asked questions
- Project management templates and guidelines
- Marketing and branding guidelines
- Sales processes and best practices
- Employee Onboarding and training materials
- Client onboarding and training materials
- Company history and milestones
- Product documentation
- IT support and troubleshooting guides
- Legal and compliance information
These are just a few examples. The content of a company wiki can vary depending on the size and needs of the organization.
Process Management (Notion)
In essence, this is where your SOP’s live. So if someone wants to know what app is used for Bill Pay, this is where they go to find out. And once there, there should be detailed documentation about how that app is used.
I recently ran a call in my 97 & Up group on How to Create an SOP for a Cleanup Job in Notion.
We start with the end in mind.
What is the last thing that happens when we know the job is done?
In other words, “what does ‘done’ look like?”
We threw out a bunch of bullet points that ultimately came together to form the picture of what it looks like when a cleanup job is done.
Then we went back to the beginning to answer the question:
What do I need to do to move this forward?
As we list out the steps, we are able to close the gap between the beginning and what “done” looks like.
This is the basic formula for creating an SOP for any process you have.
If you do this part well, you would be able to send new employees to the Process Management part of your company wiki (all of which can easily be done in Notion) and the information should be documented so well that minimal to no training is required on behalf of the other employees.
The other thing a well written and organized Process Management document can do is give you something you can sell. Oftentimes a company will buy your processes more than anything else.
There is a wide open opportunity for you here if you take the time to document every possible process really well, and store it somewhere central that anyone can easily access it.
To recap and wrap up, we have our CPR Framework consisting of five primary apps across three areas that you need to run your practice.
- Internal (Slak, Teams etc…)
- External (Email)
- Work Management (Notion)
- Company Wiki (Notion)
- Process Management (Notion)
All of the above is documented in your company wiki, which should be both a fun and rich resource for everyone in your organization to use.
With the above framework, you will have every app you use for every purpose documented in your company wiki.
Then you’ll have a research section, where you can document apps you are researching. As you add apps to your research list, ask the three questions I posed earlier:
- Does this solve a problem I don’t already have solved?
- Does it solve one better?
- Does it represent something that I want to play with and see where it might improve processes within my organization?
Once an app is adopted in your organization, an SOP is written up explaining exactly who is using it, and how it is used.
Every other app you use will come under one of the heading above. QuickBooks Online is a work management application. If you use Routable to pay bills for clients, that is also a work management app. Notion is the primary work management app, because it is what you use to keep track of every client and all of the work you do for all of those clients. Alternatively, you might use Clickup, or Asana, or Wrike, or… or… You get the idea.
If you have any questions I am not hard to find!
This is a paid promotion with Intuit.
PS I would have published this even if they hadn't paid me 😜.
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