Founded in 1994, GJ Walsh & Co is one of Southeast Queensland’s most successful, homegrown accounting firms led by its founding partners, Greg Walsh and David Richardson. The firm prides itself on the outstanding delivery of services including accounting, business advisory, bookkeeping, audits, and self-managed super fund support.
At the start of 2021, with multiple offices all on different software systems and limited integration between them, the firm decided to step into the future and seek out a better way of working. “Our systems were not talking to each other, and that made life unnecessarily difficult,” said Abby Acutt, Client Services Manager at GJ Walsh & Co. “MYOB AE didn’t integrate with other solutions, Handisoft was quite separate, we had one system for one office and a different system for a different office. It made information sharing really difficult and meant updating each solution separately. We knew there was a better way of working so we decided to make the move to get the whole company on the same system.”
Integration wins hearts and minds
GJ Walsh & Co chose to move forward with Xero Practice Manager (XPM), and then began selecting solutions for their cloud stack. FYI was selected because of its fantastic integration with XPM, syncing data so that only a single source of client information needs to be maintained. “As well as XPM we use DocuSign, Adobe Sign, Office 365, BGL, and Now Infinity to name a few,” Abby added. “In my opinion, one of the strengths of FYI is its deep integration. For example, with corporate compliance apps, integration allows for auto-retrieval and auto-filing of each client’s corporate documents. Integration with digital signing apps allows us to simplify our processes and document workflows and deliver a better client experience. FYI integrated with every app, so it was a no-brainer to choose it.”
Smooth onboarding means a happier team
Given the level of change facing the GJ Walsh & Co team, it was essential that the onboarding process needed to go well. Abby continues: “FYI made it very easy for us to move our team of 28 people to a completely new system. Everything was mapped out for us, and since FYI’s filing system was very close to our own, onboarding was painless, and we could hit the ground running. Once we put some effort into setting up our templates, we were off.”
With FYI, GJ Walsh & Co now use templates to automatically create standard emails and documents using client data merged from XPM. They have set up more than 200 email and document templates, and these form the backbone of the processes they have automated. They have even set auto-filing defaults as part of the template so that any emails or documents created are automatically filed to the correct client and cabinet.
Automation and other fantastic features
“We’ve started to explore FYI automations and apply them to a range of processes used by our team. We started with integrations to automatically capture documents, import them into FYI and file them in a cabinet, and then looked at other ways FYI can help us work more efficiently. We’ve found it useful to just play around with FYI and see what we can do,” Abby added.
Automations implemented by the firm so far have included an email reminder for business name renewal – with emails automatically drafted, ready to send to the client – and an automatic notification when end of year jobs should commence.
“We just introduced a new automation that has completely changed one of our processes altogether,” Abby Continued. With COVID, the government’s rules and requirements are always changing, and we need to inform clients about this new information in a timely manner. Previously it would take us a couple of days to get new information out to clients on mass by exporting and segmenting our client list, loading it to DocuSign, and then sending to the clients for signing manually then manually processing their responses.
“We now use FYI’s automation functionality and integration with DocuSign for automatic response drafting of a Word template, the creation and pushing to DocuSign for clients to sign their declarations. The whole process took about half an hour to set up and now we can communicate effectively with clients on mass far quicker and more efficiently than before.”
Another feature loved by GJ Walsh & Co is FYI’s Collaborate tool that allows the firm to simultaneously co-edit documents with various team members, clients, or both, rather than waiting for updated versions. Documents and folders are securely shared with clients who access them via a two-step verification process. Clients can upload documents to a secure folder, which are automatically re-filed and notifications sent to the appropriate team member.
Abby goes on: “Having a secure space that clients can drop documents into is fantastic and far more secure than email, so it provides clients peace of mind. Many of our clients are going completely digital, like us, and prefer having one link to upload documents to, rather than having to print and send.”
More to come on the FYI journey
Only one year into exploring the options for new ways of working with FYI, GJ Walsh & Co is happy with their progress, and excited by what the future holds. The firm has been enjoying the wider benefits of its cloud migration, with the team now having the capacity to work from anywhere – something that has assisted it in weathering the storm that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought.
Abby adds: “Since moving to the cloud, everyone can work freely from wherever they are located, and can still collaborate with each other. Solutions such as FYI really come into their own when you consider remote working. We function the same as a company now whether we are in the office or not as the systems we use are the same.
“We will be reaping the rewards from making the move for many years to come. To any firm starting their journey with FYI, I would recommend just getting in there and experimenting with as much of the system as possible. Look at where your pain points are and I’m sure FYI will have a way to address them to improve your efficiency and deliver a better client experience.”